Shrimp and Polenta: A Classic Comfort Dish

Looking for a comforting and delicious meal? Look no further than shrimp and polenta, a classic dish that combines the robust flavors of succulent shrimp with creamy polenta. This seafood recipe is a staple in Italian cuisine and is sure to satisfy your cravings for a hearty and satisfying dish.

Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy family dinner or hosting a dinner party, shrimp and polenta is the perfect choice. It’s quick and easy to prepare. So, in no time, you can have a restaurant-quality dish that will impress your guests or provide a comforting meal for your loved ones.

The Versatility of Shrimp and Polenta

When it comes to versatility, shrimp and polenta take the crown. This classic dish from Italian cuisine is not only delicious but also offers a complete meal on one plate. Whether you’re planning a fancy dinner party or need a quick weeknight meal, shrimp and polenta is the answer.

Picture this: succulent shrimp cooked to perfection in a flavorful sauce, served over a bed of creamy polenta. The combination of protein from the shrimp and carbs from the polenta creates a balanced and satisfying dish that will leave you wanting more. And let’s not forget the burst of freshness from the juicy tomatoes that add a delightful touch to every bite.

But what makes this dish even more appealing is its gluten-free nature. Say goodbye to worries about dietary restrictions and enjoy a flavorful meal without compromising your health.

With shrimp and polenta, the possibilities are endless. For a complete Italian experience, serve it with a side of garlic bread and a crisp Caesar salad. And, of course, don’t forget a bottle of your favorite Italian wine to complement the flavors.

Shrimp and polenta topped with coriander in plate with fork on a table.

Ingredients for Shrimp and Polenta Recipe

Creating this dish requires a balance of fresh and pantry ingredients to enhance both flavor and texture:

  • Polenta Ingredients: Coarse ground cornmeal, chicken stock, and milk form the base, with butter added for richness.
  • Shrimp Preparation: High-quality shrimp are essential for the dish’s protein component, seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
  • Aromatic Base: Minced garlic and red chili flakes create a flavor foundation that’s aromatic and slightly spicy.
  • Vegetables and Herbs: Cherry tomatoes provide sweetness and moisture, while fresh basil adds a herby freshness.
  • Sauce Liquids: White wine and additional chicken broth are used to deglaze the pan and form a succulent sauce.
  • Finishing Touches: Butter is stirred in at the end for a silky finish, and Parmesan cheese can be sprinkled for added umami.

These ingredients come together to create a harmonious dish that showcases the versatility of polenta as a comforting base complemented by a robust topping.

Shrimp and polenta topped with rosemary in a bowl with fork and knife on table.

How to Make Shrimp and Polenta

  1. Cook the Polenta:
    • To cook the polenta, start by bringing chicken stock and milk to a gentle boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the ground polenta to avoid lumps. Continue stirring for about 20-25 minutes or until the polenta is creamy and smooth. After cooking, add 4 tablespoons butter and stir until thoroughly blended.
  2. Sauté the Shrimp:
    • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and sauté until they turn pink and are fully cooked, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet and set them aside.
  3. Cook the Aromatics and Tomatoes:
    • Using the same skillet, add more olive oil, minced garlic, and a pinch of red chili flakes. Sauté for about a minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add halved cherry tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes until they soften and begin to release their juices.
  4. Create the Shrimp Sauce:
    • Add a splash of white wine, chicken broth, dried thyme, and fresh basil leaves to the skillet. Let everything simmer for about 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly and the flavors to blend.
  5. Finish the Shrimp Sauce:
    • Return the cooked shrimp to the skillet along with a knob of butter. Stir until the butter melts and the shrimp are coated in a creamy sauce. Cook for a few more minutes to ensure the flavors are well combined.
  6. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Spoon the creamy polenta into bowls, top with the rich shrimp sauce, and garnish with fresh basil leaves for added freshness.
Shrimp and polenta bowl topped with basil and tomatoes, alongside spoons on a table.

Related Article: Looking to simplify the polenta-making process for this recipe? Explore our Baked Polenta and Instant Pot Polenta recipes for convenient alternatives without the constant stirring.

Tips and Variations for Shrimp and Polenta

Looking to take your shrimp and polenta dish to the next level? Here are some tips and variations that will elevate your cooking game:


  • Use good quality shrimp for the best flavor.
  • Pay attention to the consistency of the polenta and adjust with a splash of milk or water if needed.
  • Be careful not to burn the garlic while sautéing it.
  • Use a decent white wine that you enjoy drinking.


  • Experiment with different types of shrimp, such as jumbo shrimp or tiger shrimp, to add variety to your dish.
  • Add other seafood, like scallops or mussels, to create a seafood medley.
  • For a spicy kick, sprinkle some red pepper flakes or drizzle hot sauce over the finished dish.
  • Try using fresh herbs like parsley or basil, or opt for dried herbs if you don’t have fresh ones on hand.
  • For a richer flavor, substitute part of the chicken stock with seafood stock.

With these tips and variations, you can add your own personal touch to the classic shrimp and polenta dish, making it a standout meal that will impress your family and friends.

Pairing Suggestions for Shrimp and Polenta

Shrimp and polenta can be enjoyed on its own as a well-rounded meal, but it also pairs well with various side dishes. When serving this delightful comfort dish, consider adding a refreshing salad to complement the flavors and add a touch of freshness to your plate.

Here are a few salad suggestions that work beautifully alongside shrimp and polenta:

  • Mizeria Cucumber Salad: This Polish salad features thinly sliced cucumbers in a creamy sour cream dressing, accented with fresh dill. The coolness and crisp texture of the Mizeria cucumber salad provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the shrimp and polenta.
  • Arugula Goat Cheese Salad: Elevate your meal with a salad that combines peppery arugula and creamy goat cheese, tossed with a simple vinaigrette. The Arugula goat cheese salad adds a sharp and tangy flavor that complements the creamy polenta and enhances the overall dining experience.
  • Greek Horiatiki Salad: With ingredients like ripe tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, briny Kalamata olives, tangy feta cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil, Greek salad adds a burst of flavor and texture to your shrimp and polenta.
  • Caesar Salad: The classic combination of crisp romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons, tangy Caesar salad dressing, and grated Parmesan cheese adds a satisfying contrast to the creamy polenta and succulent shrimp.
caesar salad with croutons on a white plate.

In addition to these delightful salads, a glass of wine can elevate your dining experience when enjoying shrimp and polenta. A white wine that complements seafood, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio, pairs beautifully with the flavors of the dish and adds a touch of sophistication to your meal.


Shrimp and polenta is the ultimate comfort dish that brings together the succulent flavors of shrimp and the creamy goodness of polenta. This classic Italian cuisine is a versatile delight that can be enjoyed for any occasion, whether it’s a cozy family dinner or a weekend gathering with friends.

With its easy preparation and rich flavors, shrimp and polenta has become a go-to comfort dish for seafood lovers everywhere. The combination of tender shrimp and the smooth texture of polenta creates a dish that satisfies both your taste buds and your soul.

What makes shrimp and polenta truly remarkable is its versatility. It can be customized to suit various dietary preferences, such as being gluten-free, and the addition of fresh herbs and aromatics can add exciting and flavorful twists to the dish. Whether you prefer a spicy kick or a hint of citrus, you can easily adapt this recipe to your taste.

So, why not treat yourself and your loved ones to a gourmet dining experience at home? Whip up a batch of shrimp and polenta, savor each velvety bite, and let the comfort and versatility of this dish transport you to the heart of Italy.

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Shrimp and Polenta

Shrimp and Polenta: A Classic Comfort Dish


A flavorful duo of succulent shrimp atop creamy cornmeal polenta. A satisfying blend of textures and flavors in every bite.



For Polenta:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, to taste

For Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For Aromatics and Sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Additional knob of butter


  • Step 1 – Cook the Polenta. Bring chicken stock and milk to a gentle boil over medium heat in a saucepan.
  • Step 2 – Once boiling, gradually add ground polenta while stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
  • Step 3 – Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently until creamy. Once done, stir in butter and set aside.
  • Step 4 – Stir in butter and set aside.
  • Step 5 – In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper, and sauté until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Step 6 – In the same skillet, add more olive oil if needed, then sauté garlic and chili flakes for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Step 7 – Deglaze the skillet with white wine, add chicken broth, thyme, and basil, and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce slightly reduces.
  • Step 8 – Return shrimp to the skillet, add a knob of butter, and stir until the butter melts and shrimp are coated.
  • Step 9 – Serve the shrimp and sauce over the creamy polenta. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.


Is shrimp and polenta gluten-free?

Yes, shrimp and polenta is gluten-free, making it suitable for those with dietary restrictions.

Shrimp and polenta topped with herbs on a plate on a table.

Is this shrimp and polenta recipe suitable for a low-carb diet?

Polenta is high in carbs, but you can reduce the portion size of polenta and increase the shrimp and vegetables to better fit a low-carb diet.

Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?

Yes, you can use frozen shrimp. Just make sure to thaw them properly before cooking to maintain the best texture and flavor.

What type of polenta works best for shrimp and polenta recipes?

For a creamy texture that pairs well with shrimp, use fine or medium-grain polenta. It cooks smoothly and blends nicely with the flavors of the shrimp.

How should I store and reheat shrimp and polenta leftovers?

To store shrimp and polenta leftovers, keep the shrimp and polenta in separate airtight containers. The shrimp mixture can be refrigerated for a couple of days, and the polenta can last up to five days. When reheating, microwave the shrimp mixture or warm it on the stovetop and slowly reheat the polenta on the stovetop with some additional water.