Grilled Green Chile Polenta With Citrus Shrimp

Shrimp marinated in a citrus, garlic, and achiote oil mixture, sit atop queso fresco and green chile polenta, and get topped with luscious roasted salsa verde, a dab of red chile purée, and fresh cilantro… Green Chile Polenta With Citrus Shrimp is an elegant and flavor-packed dish perfect for a special occasion!

Grilled Green Chile Polenta and Citrus Shrimp

While this can be a weeknight meal – if you have made the polenta and roasted salsa verde ahead – it probably is best reserved for a special weekend meal. However, I always expect to make a blog recipe several times, so the pan of polenta and batch of roasted salsa verde made the first time were sufficient for 2 additional meals.

With the more time-consuming components of the dish out of the way, it comes together rather quickly. Polenta is awesome on the grill, but it requires thorough chilling prior to cutting it into squares for grilling. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days, so I always make the polenta in advance.

My Roasted Salsa Verde will keep at least that long (but I bet it won’t last that long  πŸ˜‰ ).

The shrimp needs only about 30 minutes in the marinade; while it marinates, I make a salad and salad dressing. I highly recommend pairing Grilled Green Chile Polenta And Citrus Shrimp with a mango and avocado salad dressed with a citrus and red chile vinaigrette.

Making Grilled Green Chile Polenta and Citrus Shrimp

To bring this dish together, cut your 9 x 9 pan of thoroughly chilled polenta into 9 squares, and lift them carefully to a plate with a small spatula. Remove the shrimp from the marinade with a slotted spoon. Warm the Roasted Salsa Verde (cold salsa on this dish no es bueno!).

While your household grill master grills the polenta (my husband in our case), dress the salad and pour your favorite drink. The polenta takes about 12-15 minutes to grill, but the shrimp only need 3-5 minutes over direct high heat. Don’t overcook the shrimp! If you cook them until they’re completely opaque, they’ll be overcooked as they continue to cook after removed from the heat.

Place a square of grilled polenta on a small plate, top with one-fourth of the grilled shrimp and a generous spoonful of the Roasted Salsa Verde, squeeze a nickel-sized dab of red chile purée, and garnish with chopped cilantro. Perfecto!

I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work.
Let God worry about your modesty; I want to see your enthusiasm.

~~ Robert Farrar Capon, American Episcopal priest, author, and chef

I definitely smiled “out loud” with the first bite! The spicy Mexican flavors just danced on my tongue.

We loved a Green Flash Treasure Chest with this dish! This beer is a special-release IPA infused with grapefruit, hibiscus, and prickly pear. It was an amazing pairing, and raising a glass of this beer benefits cancer research. I highly recommend this beer, but it would be lovely with any citrusy, well-balanced IPA or saison. If you have beer and wine pairings that you love, please send them my way via a comment here or my “Contact Me” page. I love to suggest pairings, but I have limited opportunities to try different pairings!

Grilled Green Chile Polenta and Citrus Shrimp

Yield: 4 servings

Grilled Green Chile Polenta With Citrus Shrimp

Green Chile Polenta With Citrus Shrimp Feature

Gulf shrimp marinated in a citrus, garlic, and achiote oil mixture, sit atop fresh cheese and green chile polenta, and get topped with luscious roasted salsa verde, a dab of red chile purée, and fresh cilantro... Green Chile Polenta With Citrus Shrimp is an elegant and flavor-packed dish perfect for a special occasion!

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Polenta 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes


Green Chile Polenta

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup chopped Hatch green chile see notes
  • 2 ounces queso fresco, cubed (see notes)
  • several grinds pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

Shrimp and Marinade

To Finish


Make the Polenta

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat.
  2. Using a whisk, incorporate the cornmeal. Whisk vigorously to avoid lumps.
  3. Reduce heat, and cover. Cook 20-30 minutes on low - stirring occasionally.
  4. Add green chile, queso fresco, and butter or olive oil. Stir to combine.
  5. Spoon into a 9 x9 glass pan coated with cooking spray. Press flat. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.


  1. Combine 1/4 cup achiote olive oil, citrus juice(s), garlic, salt and pepper in a small prep bowl.
  2. Add shrimp.
  3. Marinate 30 minutes.


  1. Spray clean grill racks. Preheat grill to high heat.
  2. Grill polenta squares until you have nice, browned grill marks. Turn. When somewhat crispy and brown on second side, remove.
  3. In a grill basket, grill shrimp 3 to 5 minutes stirring occasionally, until nearly opaque. Remove.

To Serve

  1. To 4 small dinner plates, add 1 square grilled polenta, 1/4 of the grilled shrimp, 1 tablespoon of the warmed salsa verde, a nickel-sized dab of red chile puree, and garnish with fresh cilantro.
  2. Enjoy!


Hatch green chile is pretty widely available in the U.S. If you can't find it, substitute roasted chiles like poblano or anaheim, peeled and chopped.

I loved queso fresco in this. The cubes barely melt and stay intact. The chewy bite is lovely. Use your favorite Mexican cheese - cotija, asadero, etc.

I have done this with lime, and with blood orange and lime. Use a combination or citrus or whatever is fresh and available.

Achiote (annato) olive oil: 1 tablespoon annato seeds and 2 tablespoons olive oil simmered until oil is bright red. Cool and strain.

I use purchased red chile puree when I can't make my own.

I make large batches of Roasted Tomatillo and Hatch Green Chile Salsa, but have been known to substitute a good commercial one.

Nutrition Information:



Amount Per Serving: Calories: 489Total Fat: 12gCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 33g

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Grilled Green Chile Polenta and Citrus Shrimp

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  1. Well you know I’m all over this one! For breakfast we have grits and green chile and cheese about 3 times a week, so the polenta with GC and cheese is an easy conversion. πŸ™‚ So beautifully topped with shrimp and other ingredients. On heck of a dish Tamara!

    1. Thanks MJ! Yes, this was a winner! My husband and I just looked at each other the first time we took a bite πŸ™‚ Don’t you love it when that happens?

  2. I have never tried cooking with polenta and I have no idea why1 But I bought some shrimps today, so maybe I should try this as it sounds wonderful!

  3. Lovely presentation!! I have trouble getting my polenta to stick together when sauteeing. I imagine it would ooze right through the grill! Is this easier with thicker slices of polenta?

    1. I’ve never had any trouble when using this ratio of cornmeal to liquid, cooking it longer, and then thoroughly chilling before slicing. Yes, thicker slices hold up better to the grill. You have to do it a little differently when serving slices… Thanks for a great question!

  4. This is a gorgeous recipe! I’ve never made polenta before, but this makes me want to give it a try, also hatch chiles! I had never even heard of them until last year and now feel like I’m just starting to see hatch chiles in grocery stores all the time. I’m not sure if it’s because I am suddenly noticing them or if more people are cooking with them so my local stores are stocking them.

    1. Thanks Tracy! You are seeing Hatch chiles in the stores because they are finally being marketed nationwide! It’s so exciting… I was so relieved when I recently moved from New Mexico to the way south Texas city of McAllen, and found fresh Hatch chile last September! I had 30 pounds roasted at the store, and they’re in my freezer like they always were when I lived in NM. The frozen ones that you see in tubs and bags in the freezer section are awesome!

  5. I didn’t know you could grill polenta! Mind > blown. I will definitely try this the next time we fire up the grill. I love all the garlic, citrus, and chili flavors. Yum!

    1. Then by all means, Kylee, make this for him! We have to keep our husbands happy πŸ™‚ Annato seeds are available in the Mexican food section of many markets, and I’ve gotten them in our International Foods aisle at HEB, and in the regular spice section. They are also called achiote. If you find them already ground, you can use it the same way, and skip straining the oil. That’s what gives the glorious red color to many Mexican and Caribbean dishes…