This savory and rich Seafood Mac and Cheese recipe combines shredded cheeses and elbow macaroni into an ultra-creamy sauce, generously filled with your favorite seafood like lobster or shrimp, then baked to a golden brown, cheesy delight.
Make ordinary mac and cheese into something memorable by adding seafood! This easy, cheesy baked mac and cheese seafood is topped with a crunchy scattering of breadcrumbs for the perfect finish.
Why You’ll Love This Seafood Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Flavorful: The contrasting flavors going on in this dish are amazing! From the briny seafood to the velvety cream-based sauce loaded with plenty of cheese, this meal is never boring!
- Ready in an Hour: This is a from-scratch recipe, but it doesn’t take long to assemble. You’ll need just 20 minutes of prep time to make the sauce and assemble the full dish, then let the oven finish the cooking.
- Great to Make Ahead: This seafood mac and cheese can be put together up to 24 hours before you want to serve it, and it makes great leftovers.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- For the Macaroni: elbow macaroni, butter, olive oil, garlic, all-purpose flour, whole milk, half and half, nutmeg, salt, pepper, gruyere cheese, parmesan cheese, and cooked seafood.
- For the Breadcrumb Topping: Breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and fresh parsley.
How to Make Seafood Mac and Cheese
- Prep. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with melted butter.
- Pasta. Cook the elbow macaroni and drain.
- Breadcrumbs. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, butter, parsley, and salt and set aside.
- Make the sauce. In a large skillet, cook the garlic in the butter and olive oil. Whisk in the flour and mix until it turns a light brown. Slowly pour in the milk. Once it thickens, add the half and half and whisk until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Add cheese. Stir in the gruyere and parmesan cheeses, whisking until smooth and creamy.
- Add seafood. Gently fold the cooked seafood into the cheese sauce.
- Assemble. Place the cooked pasta into the baking dish and pour the seafood cheese mixture over the top. Gently mix everything together until well combined. Sprinkle the parmesan breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top.
- Bake and serve. Bake the casserole until the top is golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbly. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Garnish with some fresh parsley and enjoy!
Tips & Variations
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Make sure not to overcook the pasta – cook it just to al dente because the pasta will cook a bit more in the oven.
- Try a combo of seafood. Keep things simple and do crab seafood mac and cheese, or try a combination of seafood. I like crab, lobster, and shrimp in this recipe.
- You can use frozen seafood. If you can’t get fresh seafood, you can easily use frozen (such as frozen shrimp). You’ll want to follow the package directions for defrosting the seafood before you use it in the recipe.
- Add sausage. For an extra hearty and flavorful touch, add some spicy sausage along with the seafood. Or try chopped ham.
- Throw in some veggies. You can add frozen vegetables – my favorites are peas and corn – for a little texture and a pop of color to the mac and cheese.
This hearty seafood mac and cheese recipe just needs a few vegetables or a salad to balance it out. Add a side vegetable like Romano Beans in Garlic Butter or Roasted Brussels Sprouts. A fresh salad, like my Avocado Tomato Salad, will add a burst of juicy flavors to this rich dish. Make a fresh loaf of No Knead Bread and serve slices with seafood mac and cheese to mop up any leftover sauce!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Transfer cooled seafood mac and cheese to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the mac and cheese thoroughly in the fridge before eating.
- To reheat, place a portion of seafood mac and cheese on a microwave-safe plate and heat it in the microwave at 30-second intervals until hot. Or, place the pan of mac and cheese in the oven at 325°F and heat it until it’s heated through.
More Easy Seafood Dinners
Seafood Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- 2 cups freshly grated gruyere cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pound coarsely chopped cooked seafood, like lobster, shrimp, crawfish, or crabmeat, or a combination
Parmesan breadcrumbs topping:
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with melted butter or cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the pasta following the package instructions until almost al dente (about 2 minutes less than the cooking time indicated on the package). Drain and transfer the pasta to the baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, chopped fresh parsley, butter, and sea salt. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat.
- Add the minced garlic to the skillet and cook for 20 seconds or until fragrant.
- Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns a light brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat.
- Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Then, add in half and half, and continue to whisk until combined and smooth.
- Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, whisking until completely smooth. The sauce should be smooth and creamy.
- Gently fold the coarsely chopped cooked seafood (lobster, shrimp, crawfish, or crabmeat) into the cheese sauce.
- Pour the seafood cheese mixture over the pasta in the baking dish. Stir until well combined.
- Sprinkle the prepared Parmesan breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
- Cook pasta to al dente; avoid overcooking as it’ll cook further in the oven.
- Mix up the seafood! Simple crab or a mix of crab, lobster, and shrimp both work great.
- Frozen seafood is fine. Just defrost according to the package before using.
- Spice it up with sausage or chopped ham for added flavor and heartiness.
- Add peas and corn for extra texture and color to your mac and cheese.
- Store seafood mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw well before reheating.
- Reheat in the microwave in 30-second bursts or the oven at 325°F until hot.