Shrimp Mac and Cheese

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Shrimp Mac and Cheese is rich and scrumptiously creamy, loaded with juicy, Cajun shrimp and buttery panko breadcrumb topping.  It’s super easy to make but it tastes like you’re dining at the finest restaurant! You can have this baked mac and cheese recipe on the table in under an hour!

Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese in pan

How do you make America’s favorite comfort food, mac and cheese, even better?!  Add flavorful, juicy seafood, of course!

Shrimp Mac and Cheese

Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese is one of the most comforting, decadent, crave-able foods on the planet!  This is a baked mac and cheese casserole, with a subtle heat from Cajun seasoning, and a not-so-subtle ooey, gooey, cheesiness.

The cheese remains wonderfully silky because instead of using just a roux to create the sauce, I also use evaporated milk whisked with some cornstarch to stabilize the silkiness that doesn’t separate or curdle when baked!

If seafood isn’t your thing, I have plenty of other easy mac and cheese recipes! For a fun Tuesday taco night twist, you could make Southwestern Mac and Cheese. Or, sneak some veggies into your meal with Broccoli Mac and Cheese.

shrimp macaroni and cheese close up

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Medium shrimp – fresh or frozen works. Try to find the medium size, which typically come packaged about 20 shrimps per pound.
  • Cellentani pasta – I prefer using this pasta over regular elbow macaroni, because Cellentani has ridges that hold the cheesy sauce better. Really, any small pasta shape works great – bowtie, rotini, or even Cavatelli pasta.
sautéing shrimp in a skillet.

Helpful Recipe Tips for Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

  • Buy peeled and deveined shrimp.
    I suggest using medium uncooked shrimp, and get them already peeled and deveined. Unless you live in an area where fresh seafood is available year-round, you may need to buy frozen shrimp.

    Buying prepared shrimp makes your job much easier, because all you have to do is defrost the shrimp.  You could also substitute chopped, uncooked chicken. 
  • Feel free to mix up the cheeses! 
    I love gruyere in shrimp macaroni and cheese. It melts beautifully and has a sweet yet sharp, caramelly, nutty, buttery flavor.  Monterey Jack cheese would also be delicious.  You need 4 cups of cheese total, so mix and match to reach 4 cups.
  • Adjust the seasoning to meet your needs.
    The spice level for this recipe is completely customizable.  As written, I find 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to be medium heat.

    Using 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper makes it a bit spicier, which is expected from a Cajun pasta. 

    If you don’t want any heat, just flavor, then omit the cayenne pepper.

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

baked mac and cheese with shrimp, close up.

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shrimp mac and cheese with breadcrumb topping.

Shrimp Mac and Cheese

Donna Elick
Shrimp Mac and Cheese is your favorite comfort food with a scrumptious seafood twist! Baked with a breadcrumb topping, it’s irresistible!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Oven, Stovetop
Servings 6

Ingredients
 

Shrimp

  • 1 pound medium uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 pound cellentani pasta, or elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese

Breadcrumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoon melted butter

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cook pasta to al dente in salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  • Add shrimp to a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large (3.5 qt) oven proof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in an even layer and cook 2-3 minutes, flip over and continue to cook 2-3 minutes or until until cooked through. Remove shrimp to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut into thirds. Set aside.
  • To the now empty skillet (don’t wipe out) melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat then whisk in flour. Cook, while stirring for 2 minutes. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in milk. Whisk cornstarch into evaporated milk and gradually add to skillet followed by all remaining spices/seasonings.
  • Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly until thickened (but not overly thick). Turn heat to low then whisk in sharp cheese until melted followed by Gruyere until melted. Add shrimp and pasta and stir until evenly coated.
  • Spread pasta into an even layer then top with Parmesan. Whisk panko with melted butter and evenly sprinkle on top. Bake 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Turn oven to broil to toast panko for 2-3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn’t burn.
  • Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 1043cal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Cholesterol: 251mg | Sodium: 1752mg | Sugar: 15g | Fiber: 4g | Calcium: 1122mg | Iron: 3mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published October 2019.

shrimp macaroni and cheese in a blue baking dish.

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4 Comments

  1. leave tails on? how do people eat food with shrimp with tails on? seems very messy, or am I missing something…

  2. 5 stars
    The shrimp are so awesome in mac and cheese! Never thought of this before but I love it! I’ll be making this on rotation now for my family.

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