Cajun Grilled Salmon with Cheesy Jalapeno Grits

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain’t grandma’s grits!

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Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!

I’ve always been impressed by skilled taste testers.  Nearly every food and drink profession relies on taste testers to judge their products on flavor, aroma and everything in between.

Several years ago when Laura and I visited Napa Valley, we sat in the tasting room of a nice winery and watch the sommelier pour 3 bottles of wine down the sink.  He opened each one, took a sip and then dumped it.  Finally on the 4th bottle, he was satisfied and served us a glass.  He noted that the previous three bottles were corked.

While I’m familiar with the term ‘corked wine,’ I wonder if I would actually know if a wine is corked?  This was a reputable winery, and I’m assuming none of their wines were downright terrible.  I know sommeliers go through extensive training, and I’m sure identifying bad wines is part of the process.

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!

Speaking of flavors, I can’t help but note some of the odd descriptions that are used to describe bourbon.  Laura and I have gone all-in on the bourbon boom – we like to say that we spent our COVID travel budget on bourbon since we couldn’t go anywhere.  Either way, our appreciation for this brown liquid has grown substantially.

We subscribe to a well-known whisky magazine, and it’s been a great way to learn about the nuances of various whiskys.  Each issue includes tasting notes on a variety of bourbons, and I dutifully read each one.  But that’s where things sometimes get odd.  One recent bourbon was described as having a “vanilla and delicate spice draped in leather and dusty oak floorboards.”  Uhhh…what?  To be fair, I’ve had that bourbon, and I do understand where the reviewer is coming from.  But still…dusty oak floorboards?

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!

Before we move on to the Cajun Grilled Salmon recipe, I have to mention one more bourbon review.  “Licorice, charcoal smoke, cured tobacco, black pepper” are used to describe this one.  Ok, I get the vibe.  But then it continues on to include “pencil eraser” and “bicycle tire.”  Really?  I haven’t tried that bourbon, so I should reserve my thoughts until I try it…but pencil eraser and bicycle tire don’t exactly make me want to run to the store to find a bottle of it.

Cajun Grilled Salmon with Cheesy Jalapeno Grits

This tasting discussion came up when we made this Cajun Grilled Salmon with Cheesy Jalapeno Grits.  No, this recipe does not taste like pencil erasers or bicycle tires.  It also doesn’t taste like dusty oak floorboards. 

Instead, both Laura and I commented on how deliciously buttery the grits were.  Creamy, buttery and delicious.  But get this – there’s no butter in the recipe!  Many recipes for grits do call for butter, and I occasionally use butter when making grits.  But this time, I opted for cheese and cream…but the grits still ended up with a wonderful buttery flavor.  I have no idea how that works…but I’m not complaining!

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!

Grits often get a bad rap.  I get it.  Bad grits are lumpy, flavorless and unappetizing.  But good grits?  Oh, they’re amazing!  Grits are sometimes called Southern polenta, and I can definitely see the similarities.  NPR published a very interesting article about the similarities between grits and polenta – it’s worth a read sometime when you’re bored!

In my opinion, the key to good creamy grits is authentic Southern stone-ground grits.  All I can find in the stores up here are huge containers of instant grits.  Fortunately, Amazon is always there when my stash of Southern grits runs low!  (I typically use Palmetto Farms’ stone ground grits.)  The important part is the stone ground grits…and I guess the addition of cream and cheese helps, too!

While these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are good enough to eat as a meal by themselves, I topped this one with Cajun Grilled Salmon.  A quick homemade rub of dried herbs and seasonings takes this grilled salmon to a whole new level.  There’s a ton of flavor in this rub, and a tiny bit of heat thanks to the cayenne (you can certainly adjust the cayenne to your taste preferences).

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!


For a similar version using shrimp instead of salmon, I highly recommend this Charleston Shrimp and Grits recipe. We make that one for company all the time, and it always gets rave reviews!

If you’re looking for one heck of a delicious meal, then put this Cajun Grilled Salmon with Cheesy Jalapeno Grits on the menu!  As Laura noted after one bite of these grits, “Why don’t we eat grits every single night?”  She’s right, we don’t eat grits enough.  I plan on fixing that problem…starting with another round of these cheddar grits!  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!

Did you make this Cajun Grilled Salmon with Cheesy Grits at home?  Leave a comment or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!

Cajun Grilled Salmon with Cheesy Jalapeno Grits

Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 606kcal


For the Grits

  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 jalapenos ribs and seeds removed, diced
  • cups corn grits
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock can substitute vegetable broth
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • cups shredded cheddar cheese I used Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese

For the Cajun Salmon


For the Grits

  • Using a medium saucepan with a lid, add olive oil and place over medium heat. Once hot, add diced jalapenos. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until jalapenos have softened.
  • Add grits, salt, chicken stock and hot water; whisk until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cream and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until grits are tender and have thickened. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm. (Note: Cheese will be added later.)

For the Cajun Salmon

  • Preheat grill to high heat. (Note: The salmon can be cooked in a skillet or grill pan indoors, too. Just preheat skillet to medium-high and then cook salmon for ~4 minutes per side, or until cooked to your liking.)
  • Using a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the salmon and olive oil; stir until well combined.
  • Brush tops and bottoms of salmon fillets with oil. Sprinkle seasoning mixture evenly on top of salmon.
  • Brush grilling racks with vegetable oil to prevent salmon from sticking.
  • Place salmon on grill skin-side up. Grill for 2-3 minutes.
  • Reduce grill heat to medium, flip salmon and continue grilling for 2-4 more minutes, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
  • Add shredded cheese to grits and stir until cheese has fully melted. (Note: If necessary, add a splash of water to the grits to loosen them up.)
  • To serve, divide grits onto plates and top with grilled salmon filet.
  • {Optional} Garnish with chopped green onions before serving.


For an easier version, just omit the spices for the salmon portion and use 3 Tablespoons of Cajun seasonings instead!
Topped with a flavor-packed piece of Cajun Grilled Salmon, these Cheesy Jalapeno Grits are delicious!  These ain't grandma's grits!

Looking for more tasty Southern recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

This Homemade Southern Banana Pudding is a classic dessert...and it's super easy to make!  It'll leave your family and friends begging for your “secret family recipe!”

Homemade Southern Banana Pudding

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy are an iconic Southern comfort food.  Whip up a batch for brunch this weekend!

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Atlantic Beach Pie is a staple at seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast. One bite, and it will be a staple in your kitchen, too!

Atlantic Beach Pie

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  1. will be making this soon for the grits can i use vegetable broth / coconut cream and vegan cheese and for the salmon can i use mushrooms as am a vegan can i use air fryer instead as i dont have a grill at home perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    1. Hey Ramya! Yes, you can absolutely vegetable broth for the grits – that will work just fine. As for the mushrooms, I do think mushrooms would pair quite well with creamy grits, so that will work, too! Enjoy!

    1. Haha – those “creole spice mixtures” can be so frustrating, Mimi. Each one is wildly different from the others! I’ll admit that I’ve used them in the past, but I much prefer to make my own spice mix!

  2. 5 stars
    I wasted no time with this one! Delicious! Those grits!!! Oh my gracious! I did use Paul Prudhommes cajun seasoning (poultry blend) because after living in Baton Rouge for 4 years- it’s hub’s favorite! It’s rainy here so I broiled the fillets and sautéed up some shrimp for my daughter who doesn’t care for fish. Super fast. Super yummy! Another thumbs up, David! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Marla! I’m so glad you jumped right in on this recipe – it’s a good one! I totally know Paul Prudhomme’s seasoning mix – I lived in Baton Rouge for a number of years, too. 🙂 And, yes, broiled salmon works quite well in a pinch. It was storming here last night, so we went with leftovers instead of firing up the grill. Haha! Thanks again, and I hope you are doing well!

      1. I forgot to mention to you…. McEwen & Sons coarse grits from Wilsonville, AL. Google and try them! I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

        1. Ah! Thank you so much for the recommendation, Marla. I haven’t heard of McEwen & Sons until now, but you better believe it’s on my list! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    I think it would be sad watching 3 bottles of wine going down the sink. I mean, it might not be up to the highest standard, but can’t you utilize it other ways like turning into wine vinegar, etc? But at least I’m not sad when looking at this dish. Indeed, it makes me utterly hungry. The salmon looks cooked to perfection, and the creamy, cheesy grits? Who can resist?!

    1. You might be right there, Ben. I honestly have no idea what you could do with bad wine, but I feel like there’s got to be something! Oh well. And as far as this recipe? Yum! It’s packed with flavor, but still easy enough to pull together on a busy weeknight. That’s how we roll around here!

  4. 5 stars
    LOL at the bourbon reviews — why would anyone know what pencil eraser or bicycle tire tastes like?! But these grits look so creamy and delicious — a shame that it’s not super well known food item up here.

    1. That’s my point exactly, Michelle! I mean I can imagine what pencil eraser and bicycle tires might taste like, but there have to be better descriptors than that out there!! Either way, I do highly (!) recommend putting stone-ground grits on your Amazon list. They aren’t well known here in the northeastern part of the US either…but man are they amazing when you cook them the right way! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    David, great recipe! You know I love grits, can’t live without them. Mater of fact, I import them from the US (likely some of the most expensive grits around), so taking my beloved salmon and marring it to my cajun roots (via Texas) you truly hit the mark on this one. I can’t wait to give this one a go.
    Corked wine, well I’m no wine expert, but I know the smell of a corked bottle. For me, it tastes like a musty root cellar. Once you’ve been there you never forget that smell.
    Bourbon, you know me, I’d just as soon share my bottle of Weller’s 12 yo with you guys and talk about stuff than try to try to describe the taste of it…

    1. Thanks so much, Ron! I do remember you mentioning your love for grits – I get it. They’re amazing! And if I lived abroad, I would also have to import grits!

      You make a good point about corked wine – once you know it, you know it. It was just surprising for us to watch that sommelier pour 3 consecutive bottles down the drain! And I’d love to take you up on that bottle of Weller 12 yo. We could offer up some Weller CYPB in return. 🙂

      1. I’ve not had an opportunity to sample the CYPB, but would love to experience it. My son is holding a bottle of Weller Antique 107 to bring me next summer when they can hopefully visit. I’ve not tried that one either, but am looking forward to it.
        When we lived in KY, we lived about 20 minutes from Bufalo Trace, so it was on our standard tour route when we had out of town visitors.

        1. Ah, I wish you still lived in Kentucky! These bourbons are getting so difficult to find. The funny thing is if I look back at Google images of liquor stores from say 3-4 years ago, there are so many rare bottles just sitting on the shelves. Maybe not CYPB and Antique 107, but plenty of Blanton’s, EH Taylor, etc. Crazy bourbon boom! I have tried Antique 107 at a restaurant (just recently actually) and it was fantastic…dare I say I think I liked it better than Weller Full Proof. However, I might need to do a side-by-side tasting before I can make that call. Either way, if you ever end up in upstate New York (or Asheville, NC in about 2 years…yup, that’s happening!), then I’ll have a pour of CYPB waiting for you!

  6. 5 stars
    I know what you mean, I have a friend who is a wine enthusiast and he can distinguish where in New Zealand the grape was grown and what period, I was really impressed and blind tested him. I too have something similar but on food, I can distinguish most of the elements used on the dish. BTW that Salmon looks so tasty and crispy

    1. Wow – he can actually nail down the growing region and the year!? That’s a skill…and he proved it via the blind taste test. I’m impressed!

  7. 5 stars
    Those bourbon reviews are something else! They made me chuckle a bit when I read them…dusty oak floor boards… hmmm…. but I guess that is better than old bike tire!!! I have never actually had grits, but I have had polenta. I think I need to explore southern cuisine a bit more! This cajun salmon looks like a good place to start. Everything looks wonderful!

    1. Haha – you and me both, Kathy! In the end, I guess those descriptions are pretty good as they make me think of an exact smell/taste. However, it doesn’t make me want to try a bourbon that tastes like an old bike tire. 🙂

      Ah, if you’ve never had grits, then hop on Amazon and order a package of stone-ground grits. They get a bad rap (like Brussels sprouts!), but when they are prepared correctly? Holy cow! Thanks so much, my friend!

    1. Yes! I’m so glad you’ve discovered the beauty of good grits, Marissa. They’re amazing!! 🙂 And then go add a piece of Cajun-rubbed salmon on top? Yum!

  8. I’m a big fan of both grits and polenta! And I’m sure I’d love this dish!

    Btw, that article was interesting but they do overlook the fact that some polenta, specifically they way they make it in the Veneto, is made from white corn rather than the usual yellow. And polenta can be ground very fine (fioretto), medium (fumetto) or rather coarse (bramata), with the last one quite close to the grind you get in grits. So just to confuse things a little further…

    1. Interesting point there about the white corn polenta – that definitely throws a wrinkle into the comparison game. Either way, I still put grits and polenta into the same family tree…maybe cousins? Thanks, Frank!

  9. 5 stars
    Delicious! Simple instructions, and very easy to make. Save the list of ingredients so to use on other fish and meats.

    1. Hey Jannie! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. We love this one here in our house! In fact, we just made a version of this but used smoked salmon instead. Grits get a bad rap sometimes, but when prepared the right way, they really are delicious! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment here. 🙂

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