Healthy Shrimp and Grits: Yes, there is such a thing!

Healthy shrimp and grits! Indeed, this Southern comfort food doesn’t have to be laden with extra calories, sodium and saturated fat. And the taste is still amazing.

healthy shrimp and grits

Healthy Shrimp and Grits

I grew up in Florida and was raised to love grits (as well as all types of citrus fruit and seafood). My kids – born and raised in Virginia – grew up to love them too. Being from the North, my husband though was a grits convert. But alas the entire family can sit down to enjoy a breakfast or dinner with a side of grits. The entire family enjoys traveling too, and as we’ve traveled throughout the South, we’ve ordered shrimp and grits from many a restaurant. I decided it was time to healthify this favorite southern comfort food. And this recipe for healthy shrimp and grits does not disappoint.

healthy shrimp on grits in a bowl

Delicious! I promise!

How I made Healthy Shrimp and Grits

I started with whole-grain grits instead of a refined product. I prefer the yellow grits for flavor and color, but feel free to swap them out for white grits. Just skip the quick-cooking varieties. To keep the calories down, I used as little oil as possible and avoided butter. I’m not much of a fan of bacon or ham, so I omitted them too, but kept the smoky flavor with the addition of smoked paprika. This helps to keep the calories and saturated fat in check. For a boost of umami, I sautéed some mushrooms. If you want even more umami, add a little Parmesan cheese to the grits or sprinkle some on top of the dish before serving.

healthy shrimp and grits with mushrooms

Healthy shrimp and grits are made beautiful with yellow whole-grain grits and smoked paprika.

If you have diabetes and find that this recipe puts your meal total for carbohydrates above your goal, you can cut the portion of grits to 2/3 cup to save about 9 grams of carbohydrate.

Healthy Shrimp and Grits

If you prefer white grits, feel free to make the substitution. Be sure to look for a stone ground, whole grain variety and avoid quick-cooking or instant grits. Use whatever mushrooms your prefer. My preference is a combination of cremeni and shiitake mushrooms.
4.25 from 4 votes
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Course: Entree
Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 330kcal
Author: Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, FAND


  • 1 cup stone ground whole grain yellow grits (may be labeled polenta)
  • 3 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (use low sodium broth to trim the sodium even more)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms (start with 8-10 ounces untrimmed mushrooms)
  • 6 scallions, cut into approximately 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  • Combine the chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Gradually pour in the grits and stir vigorously. Reduced the heat to to medium low, so the grits cook at a low boil. Keep the pot covered except to stir periodically to prevent clumping. Remove from the heat when the grits are at the desired consistency, after about 6 to 8 minutes. For this recipe, I prefer my grits on the wetter side, but you can continue to cook them until they are the way you prefer them.
  • While the grits are cooking, toss the shrimp with the salt, crushed garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to cover the pan. Add the shrimp and cook on each side until just pink, a total of about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet.
  • In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and scallions. Sautée on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Return the cooked shrimp to the skillet. Sprinkle the thyme and pepper over the shrimp and vegetables and stir.
  • To serve, scoop up about 1 cup of grits and 1 cup of shrimp and vegetable mixture into each of 4 bowls. If you have leftovers, store the grits separate from the shrimp for easier reheating.


To reheat, add additional chicken broth to the grits, stir and heat on high in the microwave or on medium in a pot on the stove. The shrimp are best reheated when covered with a damp paper towel at a moderate power in the microwave.


Serving: 1cup grits and 1 cup shrimp mixture | Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 220mg | Sodium: 785mg | Fiber: 3.5g

So you see, this healthy shrimp and grits recipe proves that wholesome food can be comforting. Check out other healthy comfort foods.

Cheers to happy, healthy eating!

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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  1. Mrs. York on March 25, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    The smoked paprika really gave it the smokey bacon flavor. Loved this recipe. Super quick to make!

    • Jill Weisenberger on March 25, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      So glad you like it! I’m not much of a bacon eater, but I do love the smoked paprika. Happy to know that you do too.

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