Pumpkin Polenta with Butter Berbere Shrimp

Pumpkin Polenta with Butter Berbere Shrimp

If you haven’t tried berbere spice yet, it’s time, and this butter berbere spice shrimp with pumpkin polenta is the perfect entry point for you! We used to always do cajun spice on shrimp, but lately have been using berbere and butter and the shrimp comes out incredible! Spicy, garlicy, and so savory, and the butter adds a much needed richness to everything.

The inspiration for this recipe

Lately Georgina has been planning our weekly menu, looking around on her favorite blogs and saving them to a spreadsheet for us to choose from. We have been really fortunate to be able to cook together a lot more often, and I love following all the recipes she plans for us. Today’s recipe was inspired by a few of the dishes we have had lately. One was this fantastic pumpkin coconut tortellini soup from Orchids and Sweet Tea. Another was a buttery steak recipe from the cookbook Ethiopia by Yohanis Gebreyesus – I used a similar sauce to form the base sauce from the steak for the shrimp, and the pumpkin, coconut, spicy flavor profile from the soup

Making the pumpkin polenta

I debated between calling this polenta or grits cause it is sort of a cross between the two, but I went with polenta since it is a finer grain of cornmeal than I would usually do for grits. Despite that, this dish is obviously inspired by shrimp and grits to some extent.

making the polenta

I mixed some coconut milk, pumpkin, and garlic broth together to make the cooking liquid for the polenta. Then added the cornmeal. These are all the ingredients in the pumpkin polenta.

  • canned pumpkin
  • canned coconut milk
  • chicken or garlic broth
  • fine cornmeal
  • butter

Making the shrimp

Start with some melted butter, then add the shrimp and then the spices. In addition to berbere I also added fresh garlic, celery salt, and oregano.

making the shrimp

Serving the butter berbere shrimp with pumpkin polenta

Spoon out the polenta onto the plates and top with tons of shrimp and as much of the amazing sauce as you can from the pan.

Pumpkin Polenta with Butter Berbere Shrimp

I wanted this to feel “fall AF” and it definitely had those vibes to it. The pumpkin polenta was so creamy and was the perfect balance for the spicy shrimp.

Pumpkin Polenta with Butter Berbere Shrimp

There was LOTS of butter and you could taste it, but it still didn’t feel like you needed to take a nap after. And the bit of scallion on top was just the thing to cut through the richness.

So good!

Twists on pumpkin polenta with berbere butter shrimp

This dish is close to being dairy free and it’s easy to use vegan butter to get it all the way there if needed. In the other direction, this would be good with some sausage too. Maybe some andouille or even chorizo! I probably would use some sage filled loose breakfast sausage.

You could also use a coarser cornmeal if you want this to be more like grits!

If you want more grits, check out my pork belly and grits burger, or these cool ranch doritos chicken and grits!

Pumpkin Polenta with Butter Berbere Shrimp

A creamy pumpkin and coconut polenta served with shrimp smothered in an Ethiopian berbere spice and butter sauce
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 639kcal



  • 14 ounces canned pumpkin
  • 14 ounces canned coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken or garlic broth
  • 3/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound shrimp peeled, deveined, tails on
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon berbere spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • chopped scallions for garnish


  • Mix the pumpkin, coconut milk, and stock in a pot and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the cornmeal. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and continue to cook at a slow simmer for about 30 minutes. Finish with the butter before serving, taste and add salt if needed.
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the shrimp. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring and flipping the shrimp.
  • Add in the garlic, berbere, celery salt, and oregano and continue to stir and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the vinegar and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  • Plate with the polenta first, then top with some shrimp. Garnish with scallions.


Calories: 639kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 32g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 230mg | Sodium: 1133mg | Potassium: 896mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 15984IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 6mg


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