Bake and serve this creamy seafood mac and cheese and watch your entire family gobble it up! This bubbly, cheesy casserole loaded with macaroni, shrimp, and scallops is the definition of comfort food.
When you want to make something that the entire family will enjoy, you will always please everyone with pasta dishes. From buffalo mac and cheese and meatless baked ziti to stuffed pasta shells and baked feta pasta – you can never go wrong!
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Creamy Baked Seafood Macaroni and Cheese
Made with two types of cheese and a combination of shrimp and scallops, this casserole is creamy, cheesy goodness. It’s made completely from scratch and is such a wonderful recipe for special occasions, dinner party as a main dish or even a side dish with prime rib, filet mignon or other steak.
Seafood macaroni and cheese is ready in 30 minutes. So, even though it cooks as quickly as the boxed stuff, you’ll notice a difference in the taste and texture. The creamy cheese sauce, elbow macaroni, and juicy seafood all combine perfectly and is even better than what you’d get at any restaurant.
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this easy recipe. Scroll down to the full recipe card with amounts.
- Elbow Macaroni – This is the best kind of pasta to use for mac and cheese, as it has fun nooks and crannies, but you can use shells or rotini too.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter so you can control how salty the dish is.
- Shrimp: Save time by using shrimp that’s already peeled and deveined. If using frozen shrimp, so you’ll want to thaw them first and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Scallops – Tender buttery scallops come in different sizes. Bay scallops are the small ones that look like mini marshmallows and the large ones are sea scallops and they look like bigger marshmallows! If using large ones you’ll need to cut them into quarters first.
- Flour: Used to thicken the cheese sauce. You can use gluten-free flour if you need it.
- Whole Milk: Full-fat milk will give the cheese sauce the best flavor and richer consistency.
- Heavy Cream: Used the same way the milk is, but takes it even further with the extra fat it contains, making it extra velvety.
- Seasoning: Onion and garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Cheddar Cheese: Freshly grate the sharp yellow or white cheddar cheese to give it the freshest flavor. The sharpness of fresh cheddar in seafood mac and cheese is amazing.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Fresh mozzarella cheese gives you the best cheese pull! It’s more mellow than cheddar, so they balance each other so nicely.
1. Swap the onion powder for ½ cup chopped sautéed onions. You could also use ½ cup of finely diced red peppers.
2. Baby spinach would make another easy veggie addition.
3. Old Bay Seasoning or Cajun seasoning would pair well with the seafood giving the dish extra flavor.
4. Use lump crab meat or lobster or imitation crab meat instead of the shrimp and scallops. Use a combination of any two favorite seafood or make just shrimp mac and cheese.
5. To add a little heat, sprinkle in a bit of cayenne pepper or creole seasoning.
6. I love sharp cheddar, but you can use any favorite kinds of cheese. Mild cheddar or another one like Colby Jack, Monterey Jack cheese, gruyere cheese or even a pepper jack cheese.
7. top it with ½ cup of cooked bacon crumbles if you love bacon in your Mac.
8. You can also top the mac and cheese with Parmesan cheese or Panko breadcrumbs for added crunch.
9. Stir in 2- 3 tablespoon of softened cream cheese.
How to Make this Seafood Mac and Cheese Recipe
Make this homemade seafood mac & cheese in just over 30 minutes, completely from scratch. Serve it with a simple salad and dinner is served!
Step 1: Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions, but reduce the cooking time by ¼ of the time listed so it is al dente. It will continue cooking as it bakes. Drain the pasta into a colander in the sink and run it under cold water. This stops it from cooking.
Step 2: In a large skillet, add shrimp and scallops and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. The shrimp will be pink and no longer translucent and the scallops are nicely seared on the outside. Set them aside in a bowl.
Step 3: In the same skillet, melt butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Then, slowly add the milk and heavy cream, while stirring continuously.
Step 4: Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, and then add the shredded cheese. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until the cheese has completely melted.
Step 5: Toss the cooked seafood in the cheese sauce to coat. Transfer the cooked pasta into a 9” x 13” casserole dish. Pour the seafood cheese sauce mixture over top and stir to coat well.
Step 6: Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese (or Parmesan or Panko bread crumbs) and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the top is golden brown and melty.
Still craving seafood? Use any leftover shrimp to make shrimp scampi for a light dinner.
- I highly recommend grating your cheese fresh from a block. The pre-shredded cheese that comes in a package (although convenient) comes with anti-clumping agents that prevent it from melting properly. It also doesn’t taste as fresh.
- Add salt to the pot of boiling water. It won’t make your pasta salty, but it will add flavor. It’s good practice for any time you boil pasta.
- For a gluten-free seafood mac and cheese, go ahead and use gluten-free pasta and gluten-free flour.
- Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any potential drips if you’d like.
Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For smaller portions, you can use the microwave. Cover the bowl with a moist paper towel and heat for 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Be careful not to overdo it or the seafood may become rubbery.
Use the oven for larger portions. Heat at 350° F for 15-20 minutes until heated through. Cover the dish with aluminum foil to prevent it from browning too much. Stir in a tablespoon of milk or cream before reheating if the cheese seems dry.
If reheating in the same dish it was cooked in, always place a cold dish in a cold oven and then turn the oven on.
Easy Seafood Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups elbow macaroni pasta uncooked
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces scallops
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- In a large pot of water, cook the pasta following the package directions but reduce the cooking time by ¼ of the time listed. (Example: if it says 8 minutes on the box, cook for just 6 minutes).3 cups elbow macaroni pasta
- Then drain the pasta into a colander in the sink and run cold water over it to stop it from continuing to cook.
- In a large skillet, add a tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the shrimp and scallops and sauté them for 3-4 minutes or until the shrimp turn pale pink in color and are and cooked evenly.3 tablespoons butter, 8 ounces scallops, 1 lb shrimp
- Remove them from the skillet and place them in a bowl.
- In the same skillet, add two tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Then, add in flour and stir to combine well. Slowly add the milk and heavy cream, stirring continuously.3 tablespoons flour, 2 cups whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream
- Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and then add the shredded cheddar. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until the cheese has completely melted.½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste, 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Add the cooked seafood to the cheese sauce and toss to coat.
- Place cooked pasta into an 9” x 13” baking dish and pour the seafood mixture over top and stir to coat well.
- Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.
Nutritional facts are estimates and are provided as a courtesy to the reader. Please utilize your own brand nutritional values to double check against our estimates. Nutritional values are calculated via a third party. Changing ingredients, amounts or cooking technique will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.
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