The Best Creamy Shrimp Mac and Cheese recipe is baked as a casserole and it’s cheesy, creamy, and loaded with tender pieces of shrimp. Topped with a crunchy, smoky crust, makes our shrimp mac and cheese SO flavorful – it is out-of-this-world! If you’re craving Lobster Mac and Cheese but lobster doesn’t fit your budget? Then this recipe is more economical and even better!
This recipe for the best creamy, cheesy shrimp mac and cheese is worthy of making…
A fabulous and delicious meal, this shrimp mac and cheese is an ideal casserole to make for holidays, dinner parties, special occasions, and family Sunday dinners.
Best of all, it is pure comfort and very affordable!
With a few easy-to-follow steps, you too can make this gourmet casserole look and taste like a million dollars!
Why is this the BEST shrimp mac and cheese?
- It’s loaded with tender pieces of shrimp in every bite.
- This recipe is easy to make and bake.
- It’s made with quality ingredients.
- The cheese sauce is SO flavorful, everyone will go bonkers over this mac and cheese!
- You can serve it alone with a salad as the side.
- It is put together in 20 minutes.
- And, because the shrimp is chopped into smaller pieces, ensures they are evenly distributed through the casserole. Everyone gets shrimp in every bite! (it’s the best!)
How to Make the BEST Shrimp Mac and Cheese?
Ingredients Needed for this Recipe…
- FROZEN or FRESH SHRIMP: Choose large “raw” frozen (or fresh) shrimp. If frozen, choose already deveined, and with tails off (for easy prep). They come in packages of 2 pounds. You will only need about 15 to 17 shrimp. Reserve the rest for another recipe. Just thaw and rinse them well. THEN PREP: On a cutting board, cut each shrimp into 4 pieces. Set them aside.
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: Is used to sauté the shrimp.
- GARLIC CLOVES: You will only need 2 cloves. Fresh garlic is essential for flavoring the shrimp.
- PASTA: Choose your favorite pasta, cavatappi, shells, or elbows. You will need 1 pound (16 ounces). Cook until al-dente. Do not overcook.
- CHEESES: For this recipe, I used shredded Gruyere and sharp Cheddar cheese for the cheese sauce. Plus, you will need some grated Parmesan cheese for the topping.
- FLOUR: You will need only 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour to thicken the sauce. If not flour, you can use cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons to thicken the sauce.
- DAIRY: You will need 1 pint of Half-and-Half and 1 cup of milk, along with 6 Tbsp. of butter.
- BREAD CRUMBS: To offer a “restaurant-style” crunchy topping, I used Panko bread crumbs, and it was perfect!
- SEASONINGS: you will need salt, cayenne pepper, Old Bay seasoning, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
Some of the ingredients…
Directions How To Make Shrimp Mac and Cheese…
(*Full recipe card on the bottom!)
1. FIRST, PREP & SAUTE THE SHRIMP: On a cutting board, cut each shrimp into 4 pieces. NEXT, in a medium-sized skillet, on moderate heat, add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and toss in the garlic. Sauté the garlic for 1 minute. Toss in the shrimp and cook the shrimp until it turns pink, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set it aside.
2. NEXT, COOK THE PASTA: Meanwhile, bring a pasta pot filled with water to a boil, and add 2 tsp. of salt. Toss in the pasta and cook until it is al-dente. Drain and run under cool water to stop the cooking. Transfer to your casserole dish.
3. MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE: While the butter melts in a saucepan, pour in the half-and-half, along with the milk. Add in the Dijon mustard and the seasonings. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until the flour is well incorporated, and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. TURN OFF the heat. Toss in both Gruyere and Cheddar cheese. Stir until both have melted and are well combined. NEXT, stir in the cooked shrimp.
4. ASSEMBLE THE CASSEROLE: Slowly pour the “cheese and shrimp” sauce over the pasta. Grab a spatula and work with the sauce, spreading it evenly and getting into the pasta as best you can.
Scatter on top with grated parmesan cheese, then with panko bread crumbs, and finally smoked paprika.
5. BAKE: Then bake in a 375 degrees preheated oven, for 25 minutes, until golden on top and bubbly around the sides. Garnish with freshly chopped chives on top. Then serve!
Your Shrimp Mac and Cheese is now ready to serve!
- Best when served immediately. The pasta with soak up that lusciously creamy sauce the longer it sits.
- This recipe yields about 6 to 9 servings.
- Serve with a green salad on the side, and dinner is done.
Storing and Reheating…
- TO STORE: Store any leftovers in a sealed container and keep them chilled in your refrigerator. It is best for up to 2 days.
- TO FREEZE: Always allow the casserole to cool completely before freezing. Then transfer any leftovers to an air-tight container and freeze. You can freeze this mac and cheese for up to 3 weeks. Be sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in a 300F oven for 20-30 minutes.
- DIRECTIONS TO REHEAT: Keep in mind, you can reheat any leftovers in the microwave, do it in increments (depending on the size of the portions). Also, the cream sauce usually is absorbed after it sits for a period of time, so you may add some half-and-half (about 2 Tbsp. or more if you prefer) over the mac and cheese before reheating it to gain the creamy texture you desire.
Additional Delicious Ideas for Seafood Dinners…
- Easy Shrimp Dinner
- Filet of Sole Francese
- Skillet Salmon with Chili Sauce
- Shrimp over Creamy Polenta
- Perfect Mussels Provencale
For the PASTA:
- 16 ounces dry pasta (cavatappi, or shells, or elbows) or GF pasta
For the SHRIMP:
- 15 to 17 large shrimp (about 1. 5 pounds) - cleaned, deveined
- 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves - minced
For the CHEESE SAUCE:
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 2 cups of Half & Half
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasonings
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of shredded Gruyere cheese
- 2 cups of shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
For the TOPPING:
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
- freshly chopped chives, as garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (190C). Place your 9 x 13 (3 qt /2.8L) baking dish on the counter nearby.
- Prep the Shrimp: On a cutting board, take each shrimp, one at a time, and cut each shrimp into four pieces.
- SAUTE THE SHRIMP: In a medium-sized skillet, heat olive oil and toss in the minced garlic, sauté for 1 minute to fragrant. Add the shrimp, and sprinkle a pinch of salt over them, and sauté for about 2 minutes, until they turn pink. Do not overcook them. Turn off the heat, and set them aside.
- COOK THE PASTA: Bring a pot of water to a boil, toss in about 2 teaspoons of salt, and cook the pasta until it is al-dente. Drain and run it under cool water for about 1 minute to stop the cooking, continue to drain. Next, transfer to your casserole baking dish.
- MAKE THE CHEESE SAUCE: In a medium-sized sauce pot, melt the butter over moderate heat, and pour in the half-and-half, milk. and add the Dijon and all the seasonings. Whisk in the flour, and continue to whisk until the flour is well incorporated, and the mixture is slightly thickened.
- Turn off the heat. Add in the shredded Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Stir the mixture until the cheeses are completely melted.
- STIR IN COOKED SHRIMP: NEXT, stir in the cooked shrimp into the cheese sauce with all the liquid and garlic as well.
- Slowly pour the "cheese-shrimp sauce" over the entire pasta. Take a spatula and gently move the pasta, to allow the cheese sauce to fall in-between and combine with the pasta.
- ADD THE TOPPINGS: Scatter on top with a layer of grated parmesan cheese, then top with a layer of Panko bread crumbs. Finally, sprinkle over the topping with smoked paprika.
- BAKE (on the center rack) uncovered, for 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Do not overbake.
- Remove and scatter with freshly cut chives, as garnish.
- Serve immediately.
TO CLEAN SHRIMP PROPERLY: THAW FIRST. Then run the shrimp under cold running water for about 4 to 5 minutes, this will help remove most of the iodine from the shrimp. Then allow them to drain in a colander.
QUICK NOTE: This recipe uses cooked shrimp. But you can make it with cooked Lobster. Use tails of lobster and cook them in a skillet, to flavor them as we do with the shrimp. Two or three small tails should be enough. Be sure to chop lobster meat into smaller pieces before combining with the cheese sauce.
Serving Size:1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 423Total Fat: 31.2gCarbohydrates: 16.2gFiber: .4gSugar: 2gProtein: 21.1g
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xo anna and liz