Baked Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese is an easy and decadent take on the classic Lobster Mac and Cheese. Three cheeses create the perfect flavor combination for an ultra-creamy sauce all topped with a golden brown breadcrumb topping that is baked to crispy, buttery perfection.
While I adore a succulent nibble of lobster, shrimp is much more available and economical on an everyday basis. And frankly, who wouldn’t love shrimp that is perfectly pan seared in buttery garlic and liberally swirled thoughout a scratch made cheese sauce that is the perfect compilation of sharp cheddar and creamy gruyere?
This is one of my family’s favorite dishes. Seriously. My kiddos will literally argue about who gets take any leftovers to school the next day. I love that while it’s quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal, and we do exactly that frequently, this recipe is totally company and holiday worthy with the necessary ‘WOW’ factor.
What is Macaroni and Cheese?
I think almost everyone is familiar with that oh, so comforting dish called Macaroni and Cheese. Also called mac ‘n’ cheese or macaroni cheese, it is a dish of cooked macaroni pasta and cheese sauce, usually cheddar. It can also incorporate other ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, meat and vegetables.
Traditional macaroni and cheese is a casserole baked in the oven; however, it may be prepared in a sauce pan on top of the stove or using a packaged mix. The cheese is often first incorporated into a Béchamel sauce to create a Mornay sauce, which is then added to the pasta.
How to make Baked Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese
Begin by adding butter, olive oil, shallot, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to a large saute pan and then turn the heat on to medium. This helps to flavor the oil and butter and prevents the garlic from burning and becoming bitter.
When the garlic begins to brown, turn the heat to high and add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook briefly and flip. Remove them immediately from the hot pan.
Melt butter in the pan and then add flour, stirring to cook through for several minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook until it begins to thicken.
Grate the sharp cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan cheeses. I love the really versatile five sided cheese grater by Microplane.
Add the cheddar and gruyere cheeses along with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to the béchamel in batches, whisking until it is well incorporated. Stir in the shrimp and macaroni that has been cooked to al dente. Pour into a 9″x13″ baking dish.
For the breadcrumb topping, stir together panko breadcrumbs with shredded parmesan, melted butter, and parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Bake until bubbly and golden.
Tips for the perfect Baked Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese.
- Slightly under-cook the shrimp as they will cook up a bit in the oven.
- Make sure the pasta is only cooked to al dente in salted water as it will continue to up-cook as well.
- The flour needs to cook long enough in the butter to remove the raw flour taste. Don’t rush it.
- Do not use pre-shredded cheeses. They include caking ingredients that affect both the taste and melting properties.
- Add the cheeses in batches off the heat to avoid any separating of the sauce.
Love Shrimp? Try these!
- Garlic Shrimp with Mango Cucumber Salsa and Coconut Rice
- Coconut Shrimp with Peach Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
- Fettuccine Pasta Alfredo with Shrimp
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Baked Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese
- 24 ounces shrimp, raw peeled and deveined, sized 31-35 per pound
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces macaroni pasta, cooked to al dente
- 3 cups whole milk, room temperature
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, fresh grated powdered nutmeg may be substituted
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Cook the pasta to al dente per the package directions and drain well.
- Add one tablespoon butter, one tablespoon olive oil, the shallot, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes to a large skillet or fry pan. Then turn on the stove heat to medium. Cook until garlic starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat to high and add half of the shrimp in a single layer to the bottom of the pan, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minutes just until the shrimp is slightly opaque. The shrimp should be slightly under-cooked as they will continue to cook up in the oven.
- Immediately remove the shrimp from the pan including any bits of garlic. Repeat the process with the second half of the shrimp, adding additional oil and butter if no drippings remain.
- Turn the heat on the pan down to medium and melt the 3 tablespoons of butter for the sauce.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.
- Slowly begin whisking in the milk until everything is smooth and well incorporated.
- Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken. It does not need to boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and then the cheeses in batches, whisking to combine until the cheese is completely melted and smooth.
- Stir in the shrimp and drippings and the cooked and drained macaroni into the sauce. Pour into the 9×13 greased baking dish.
- Combine the Breadcrumb Topping ingredients together in a small bowl and then sprinkle evenly over the tops of the mac and cheese.
- Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until the sauce is bubbly around the edges and the breadcrumbs have begun to brown.
Mother, Gardener, Book Devourer, and Food Obsessor. I love being inspired with fresh, seasonal ingredients and relish every opportunity to elevate my home cooking. Join me!
I’ve made this SEVERAL times now & I LOVE IT! I can’t even eat mac & cheese, well, when I make it, I HAVE to have shrimp in it! I make some for my son who doesn’t care for shrimp but for ME, it’s the BEST thing EVER! THANK YOU for making such a GREAT dish!
I love hearing this! Thanks for the feedback.