Indulgent Seafood Mac and Cheese: A Decadent Twist on a Classic

Imagine a dish that combines the irresistible creaminess of macaroni and cheese with the savory goodness of shrimp and crab. Introducing Seafood Mac and Cheese! This mouthwatering recipe features a luscious 3-cheese sauce with a delightful Creole kick, topped with a crispy panko crust. Whether you serve it as a holiday side dish or a comforting one-dish meal, this elevated version of mac and cheese is guaranteed to impress.

The Perfect Pairing: Seafood Mac and Cheese with a Twist

What to Serve With Seafood Mac and Cheese

As a satisfying one-dish meal, Seafood Mac and Cheese pairs well with a fresh green salad and some delicious short-cut Pull Apart Rolls. If you’re in the mood for a fancy surf and turf experience at home, serve it alongside a sizzling Cast Iron Skillet Steak. And for your holiday feasts, this dish is sure to steal the show when served alongside turkey, prime rib, or ham, instead of the usual macaroni and cheese.

Ingredients to Delight Your Taste Buds

To create this culinary masterpiece, you’ll need a handful of flavorful ingredients. Gather some spiral pasta, like cavatappi or fusilli, lump crab meat, large shrimp, sharp cheddar cheese, Gruyere cheese, cream cheese, green onions, minced garlic, all-purpose Creole seasoning, butter, flour, whole milk, and panko breadcrumbs. These ingredients work their magic together to create a symphony of flavors that will leave you craving for more.

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How to Make Creamy Seafood Macaroni and Cheese

Making this delectable dish is a breeze. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Begin by cooking the pasta until it’s al dente. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. In a skillet, sauté onions and garlic in butter. Add the crab, shrimp, and Creole seasoning, and sauté until the shrimp turn pink. Add this mixture to the cooked pasta and toss gently.
  3. In the same skillet, melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and Creole seasoning, whisking continuously. Add grated cheddar, Gruyere, and cream cheeses, and whisk until melted and creamy.
  4. Pour the sauce over the seafood and pasta, tossing until well coated. If desired, add an additional cup of milk for an extra creamy texture.
  5. Transfer half of the pasta mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish. Top with grated cheese and layer the remaining pasta on top. Finish with another layer of cheese and a generous sprinkling of panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle with melted butter.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbly. Allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tips for Creamy, Delicious Macaroni and Cheese

To ensure your Seafood Mac and Cheese turns out perfectly every time, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make the sauce a bit saucier than you think you should. The pasta will absorb some of the sauce, and its starch will continue to thicken the sauce as it bakes.
  • Cook the pasta al dente, ensuring it’s firm and not overcooked. Overcooked noodles will make the dish mushy, while undercooked ones will soak up too much sauce, resulting in a dry mac and cheese.
  • Use whole milk or evaporated milk for the sauce. Heavy cream lacks sufficient water content to keep the dish saucy while baking. Half and half can be a suitable substitute, but use it sparingly.
  • Keep the roux (flour and butter mixture) loose by whisking it just until smooth. Avoid letting it thicken too much, as it will affect the creaminess of the sauce.
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Choosing the Perfect Cheese for Mac and Cheese

When it comes to mac and cheese, opting for block cheese that you grate yourself is key. Pre-packaged grated cheese often contains potato starch, which prevents smooth melting and results in a less creamy texture. Sharp cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere, Mozzarella, and Swiss cheeses all melt beautifully and are ideal for creating the perfect mac and cheese. Hard cheeses like Parmesan or Romano can be used sparingly for added flavor. For an extra touch of creaminess, consider using Fontina and cream cheese in your sauce.

Selecting Shrimp and Crab for Your Seafood Mac and Cheese

To achieve the best flavor and texture in your dish, opt for lump or jumbo lump crab meat. Lump crab is both delicious and more budget-friendly. Imitation crab meat is not recommended for this recipe. If fresh seafood is not readily available, frozen shrimp will work just as well. Be sure to choose large shrimp that has been peeled, deveined, and had their tails removed.

Make-Ahead and Freezing Tips

Unfortunately, due to the dairy content, Seafood Mac and Cheese does not freeze well. Freezing and thawing the dish can cause the dairy to separate and compromise its texture. To prepare ahead of time, cook the pasta and sauté the seafood. Toss them together, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to proceed, make the sauce, assemble the mac and cheese, and bake it according to the recipe. This way, you can enjoy the dish freshly made and at its best.

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Expand Your Side Dish Repertoire

If you’re craving more tantalizing side dish options, consider these flavorful casseroles: Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping, Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole (no soup), Easy Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole (no soup), Creamy Green Bean Casserole (no soup), Southern Cornbread Pudding, and Southern Chicken & Dressing.

More Pasta Recipes to Explore

If you’re a pasta lover, these recipes are sure to capture your heart: Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole, Easy White Ravioli Casserole (shortcut lasagna), Ultimate Baked Spaghetti Casserole, Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole, and Easy Creamy Fettuccini Alfredo.

If you’re a fan of mac and cheese and have already tried this recipe, please let us know your thoughts and give it your highest rating. We love hearing your feedback! You can also tag us on social media @SouthernDiscourse to be featured. Happy cooking!

Rich and creamy Seafood Mac and Cheese

This article is proudly presented by Hook’d Up Bar and Grill.