Food & Drink

How to Make Classic Shrimp and Grits

Take cues from generations of cooks on Edisto Island, South Carolina: Master this basic recipe, then build on it

Photo: The Voorhes

Raised on Edisto Island, South Carolina, the author Theresa Jenkins Hilliard learned to make shrimp and grits from her grandmother, whom she honored in the cookbook Mama Doonk’s Gullah Recipes. “She used basic seasonings, but she had a way of capturing the essence of the flavor of the shrimp with every bite,” Hilliard says. Use this recipe as a framework, as generations of cooks have done on Edisto Island—in season, Hilliard swaps in fish or fresh oysters for the shrimp.



  • Yield: 4 servings

    • 4 slices bacon

    • 1 medium onion, chopped

    • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

    • 15 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    • 2 cups cooked white grits


  1. In a cast-iron pan, fry the bacon. Remove meat from the pan, and leave about 2 tbsp. of fat. Add the onion to the fat, and sauté 3–5 minutes or until soft. Add the flour and stir until it becomes light brown, about 3 minutes.

  2. Add shrimp, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a fork until the shrimp are pink, about 2–3 minutes per side. Break the bacon into pieces and add them to the mixture.

  3. Add about 1 cup water, depending on desired consistency, and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Pour over warm grits.