Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta

This spicy shrimp over creamy polenta is perfectly spiced and full of smoky flavor. Made with fresh shrimp, spicy tomatoes and creamy cheesy polenta. 

Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta Recipe by Nutmeg Nanny

I made this dish a few weeks ago when I was craving seafood like something fierce. I had been wandering around the grocery store and slowly walked past all the fresh seafood.

I saw these GIANT fresh wild shrimp and I knew I had to buy some. I had zero ideas what I wanted to do with them, but I knew they were coming home with me.

So after I got home with my shrimp I decided I was going to make shrimp and grits…errrr creamy polenta. Grits/polenta, do you think they are the same? My vote is yes. Although I normally consider grits something I eat for breakfast (with lots of butter and salt and occasionally some brown sugar) and polenta something I eat as a side with my dinner.

Let me know your opinion. Do grits = polenta or is there a solid difference between the two?

Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta Recipe by Nutmeg Nanny

Can I Use Frozen Shrimp?

Yes, technically you can.  However, if possible fresh is always best!

Be sure that if you do use frozen shrimp, you thaw it out in a bowl with warm water for only about 5 minutes. If frozen shrimp is thawing in water for any more time then that it will begin to absorb the water and the flavor will be diluted.

How Spicy is this Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta?

I wanted this dish to be spicy because lately I have been craving heat. It is at this moment I totally realize I’m my father’s daughter. He loves heat on EVERYTHING and slowly I have been going down that same road.

My heat tolerance is nothing compared to his but I do crave a bit of a spicy bite.

If you wanted to cut down on the heat you could omit all the cayenne pepper from the recipe, but the cheesy polenta will help cut down on the heat as well.

Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta Recipe by Nutmeg Nanny

Love this Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta recipe?

Try my Spicy Garlic Cilantro ShrimpPasta with Shrimp and Feta, and Chipotle Shrimp Fajita Bowls.


Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta

This spicy shrimp over creamy polenta is perfectly spiced and full of smoky flavor. Made with fresh shrimp, spicy tomatoes and creamy cheesy polenta.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes


For shrimp:

  • 1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

For tomato mixture:

  • 2 cans Rotel tomatoes
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt, to taste

For polenta:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup course grain polenta
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt, to taste


For shrimp:
In a medium sized mixing bowl add shrimp, olive oil, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, kosher salt and optional cayenne pepper. Toss together until all the shrimp is coated.

Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add shrimp to the skillet. Cook until the shrimp turn pink and remove from the heat. Place shrimp on a plate and wipe out skillet.

The shrimp will also be warmed when added to the tomato mixture so keep that in mind when cooking the shrimp.

For tomato mixture:
In the skillet you cooked your shrimp (and wiped clean) add both can Rotel tomatoes, garlic, smoked paprika and kosher salt to taste. Cook on medium heat until the mixture is hot.

Add in shrimp and cover while you prepare polenta.

For polenta:
In a large high sided skillet add water and milk. Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in polenta. Once all the polenta has been added turn the heat down to low and slowly whisk until thick. On my stove this takes about 7 minutes.

Once creamy and cooked remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and salt.

Add polenta to the bottom of a bowl and top with tomatoes and shrimp.

36 Responses to “Spicy Shrimp Over Creamy Polenta”

  1. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — April 28, 2014 at 6:56 am

    I’ve actually never had grits or polenta! We don’t really eat it in Canada, where I am from. But, they’ve been on my “to eat” list since I moved to The States! I do LOVE shrimp..and spice, so this looks like a hit! Pinned!

  2. #
    Aimee @ Simple Bites — April 28, 2014 at 9:09 am

    This is so going on our weekly menu. Gorgeous!

  3. #
    foodwanderings — April 28, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I think I saw this pic on Pinterest and pinned it. Such a beautifully striking dish. Love the flavors of the paprika and cayenne.

  4. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — April 28, 2014 at 9:24 am

    This looks fantastic!

  5. #
    Jenn @ Deliciously Sprinkled — April 28, 2014 at 9:26 am

    This looks delicious, I have never had polenta but I can’t wait to try your recipe! Pinned 🙂

  6. #
    Christine from Cook the Story — April 28, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I can’t get over how awesome this looks!

  7. #
    Claire Gallam — April 28, 2014 at 10:18 am

    That shrimp. So luscious and juicy. I want to marry it.

  8. #
    Angie — April 28, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    This looks so good! I love shrimp and grits, or polenta. I really think they’re the same too. Maybe if you add garlic and/or Italian cheese, it’s polenta, otherwise grits or cheese grits. It’s so confusing, lol

  9. #
    Christiane ~ Taking On Magazines — April 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I’m drooling over here. I get cravings for shrimp too but I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed of eating this way. Next time I want some I’m going to bring it to your house.

  10. #
    Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes — April 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Anything seafood is right up my alley. This looks sooo delicious!

  11. #
    Paula - bell'alimento — April 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I’m sorry I couldn’t focus on the writing after I was hypnotized by the photos. Swoon!

  12. #
    Alexandra — April 28, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    This looks fabulous! I’m not sure what the difference is between grits and polenta but I’m pretty sure there is one haha. I think they are made with different parts of corn.

  13. #
    Jamie @ Love Bakes Good Cakes — April 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Oh my …. this looks soooo good!!

  14. #
    Lora @cakeduchess — April 29, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I had a super early breakfast and am now ready for lunch…wow! This looks fabulous!!

  15. #
    Lindsay @ Life, Love and Sugar — April 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Ok, this seriously looks amazing!!! I am making it ASAP!

  16. #
    Rebecca {foodie with family} — April 30, 2014 at 9:09 am

    You cook my love food. Was that weird? Sorry. I just really want this polenta.

  17. #
    Joanne — April 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Are grits just polenta with more butter? Because that’s how I always feel when I’m eating them. Though I could be wrong.

    I want to lick this bowl clean.

  18. #
    Kathy Greathouse — July 29, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Oh my deliciousness!!!!! This dish is simply fantastic! Thank you for this! Zero leftovers.

    • nutmegnanny replied: — July 30th, 2014 @ 8:25 am

      I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you for coming back and letting me know 🙂

  19. #
    MsRyan — November 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Am I missing how many servings this makes?

    • nutmegnanny replied: — November 27th, 2014 @ 10:58 am

      Hi MsRyan! The serving size is 4. I added that to the recipe 🙂 Thank you and I hope you enjoy!

  20. #
    MrsT — January 10, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Very good! I used mild Rotel tomatoes, and I’m glad I did–original would have been way too hot for our tastes! I’m wondering, too, if I might only use one can next time instead of two, as I will end up tossing lots of tomatoes. The shrimp was absolutely delicious, and goes perfectly with the polenta. This was the first time I’ve made polenta myself, and it was easy and delicious. Good stuff–thank you!

    • nutmegnanny replied: — January 16th, 2016 @ 10:57 am

      Hi MrsT! Thank you so much for letting me know you enjoyed the recipe. I usually add a lot of tomatoes b/c I’m obsessed with tomatoes but this recipe is super simple to adapt so I’m glad it worked out well for you. Have a great weekend!

  21. #
    Nanci J. Hvasta — May 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    As far as I know American/Southern Grits Italian Polenta They are GREAT 🙂 GREAT recipe Thanks. njh

  22. #
    Bec — May 26, 2017 at 3:20 am

    made this tonight – super quick and super delicious! I used a mix of smoked hot paprika and smoked sweet paprika – it was great!
    Thank you so much – even my super fussy boyfriend liked it!

  23. #
    Briana — April 24, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    I’ve only made polenta a few times. On my package of polenta it says to cook them in a double broiler, which I don’t have so I always just use two pots instead. Is that necessary? Do you use quick polenta? I only have regular, wondering if it makes a difference in how they’re prepared? Excellent recipe!! Trying tonight!!!

  24. #
    Maddy C — March 30, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I’ve made this twice in a week, so simple, so delicious!!

  25. #
    K. Dickey — April 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Polenta is not Grits. See “The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook.” Pgs. 172 – 179.

    Not familiar with Rotel tomatoes. How many oz. per can?

    • nutmegnanny replied: — September 6th, 2019 @ 9:03 pm

      Hi Karen – Rotel is diced tomatoes with some spicy peppers included. It usually comes in 10-ounce cans but you could substitute a normal can of diced tomatoes. I would drain off some of the juice in the can or cook it down a little longer. Thanks!

  26. #
    susan — May 31, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    I made this last night, way out of my cooking comfort zone but it turned out great and everyone loved it! Thanks!

  27. #
    Lisa Walker — August 15, 2019 at 1:24 am

    This recipe was delicious in every way! 4
    out of 4 family members loved it! I don’t think
    that happens anymore!! Will be making a few
    times a month.

  28. #
    Diana Jean White — December 24, 2019 at 9:05 am

    The polenta was great; made it in the instant pot. The shrimp needed a little tweaking, in my mind. More garlic, maybe a little onion. I added some chipotle pepper seasoning.

  29. #
    Abby — April 5, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    An easy recipe that’s delicious, too! I did not have Rotel tomatoes so I used Hunts diced tomatoes and diced up a jalepeneo for some spice. I also only had enough smoked paprika for the shrimp, so I used regular paprika for the tomatoes. Still delicious, but I want to try the recipe as is next time!

  30. #
    Regina R — May 12, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    I didn’t have the exact ingredients. Only had a can of stewed tomatoes so diced them and used in place of the Rotel. I didn’t have any Paprika so used extra cajan and some seafood seasoning. I made 2lbs of shrimp (by mistake) so added even more extra seasoning during the marinated part. I sauted some scallions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 3 TBS of tomatoes paste before adding the the tomatoes.

    Even with all of that (use what you got) this was delicious. I can’t wait to try the full recipe as written.


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