Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

The 30 days of macaroni and cheese are back! Every January/February for the last few years I have teamed up with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to share a new macaroni and cheese recipe with you in conjunction with their blog, 30 Days, 30 Ways with Macaroni and Cheese. I am all-in with anything that involves large amounts of pasta and cheese, so creating these recipes is right up my alley! This year, the WMMB put a new spin on the mac n’ cheese recipes; we’re taking favorite classic dishes and turning them into macaroni and cheese. The possibilities for this are absolutely endless and I had a heck of a time narrowing down my ideas. In the end, I settled on a rendition of Cajun shrimp, which is a popular dish in the south. Spicy shrimp is cooked up and served alongside either rice, grits or a loaf of bread for sopping up the spicy sauce (yum). I thought that spicy shrimp would be the perfect pairing for a creamy mac and cheese dish; turns out, I was right!

Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

I loaded up my favorite basic baked macaroni and cheese recipe (seen here and here) with spicy shrimp, pepper jack cheese for an extra kick, and topped it with light-as-air Panko bread crumbs. The dish isn’t too spicy (my mom is really sensitive to spicy dishes, and she thought the mac and cheese was fabulous, the spice not too overpowering), so if you like your Cajun shrimp to be fiery hot, I’d add a little cayenne pepper to the blend of seasonings. All in all, the creamy, cheesy pasta is the perfect partner for the spicy shrimp. A match made in heaven, for sure.

My brain won’t stop trying to convert all of my favorite dishes into macaroni and cheese now! I’m still not convinced that’s a bad problem to have, though 😉

Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

What’s your favorite version of macaroni and cheese?

Head over to the Macaroni and Cheese Blog and spend an entire month drooling over macaroni and cheese recipes. That’s my plan!

Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

One year ago: Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
Two years ago: Hot Reuben Dip
Three years ago: Cranberry-White Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Five years ago: Black and White Chocolate Cake

Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

A spicy Cajun shrimp version of my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.


9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, divided
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 pound cavatappi pasta (or shaped pasta of your choice)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
12 ounces Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (about 3 cups), divided
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided
1 cup Panko bread crumbs


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Heat a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta; cover.

2. In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the shrimp and ½ teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is all pink and cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the box directions for al dente pasta (if your box doesn't specify al dente, cook it for 1 to 2 minutes shorter than the time called for - it shouldn't be cooked the whole way through). When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it in a colander.

4. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, until the flour starts to brown a bit and smells nutty, whisking constantly. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.

5. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, stir in 9 ounces each of the Pepper Jack and 6 ounces of the cheddar cheese, adding a handful at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted before adding the next handful. Season with the remaining ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, and turn off the heat.

6. Add the cooked, drained pasta and shrimp to the sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined and evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

7. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the Panko bread crumbs.

8. Sprinkle the macaroni and cheese with the remaining shredded cheeses. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of the cheese.

9. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

(Recipe adapted from ABC News)


35 Responses to “Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Heidi @ Bits of Sunshine on February 5, 2013 at 1:11 am

    30 days of mac and cheese = bliss! I love this twist on it!


  2. Arthur in the Garden! on February 5, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Yummy! Shrimp makes anything better!


  3. megan @ whatmegansmaking on February 5, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Yum, this sounds incredible! You really can’t go wrong with mac and cheese 🙂


  4. Teobucatar on February 5, 2013 at 7:06 am



  5. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on February 5, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Your macaroni looks amazing!! I love the idea of shrimp in it!! Awesome recipe!!


  6. Cassie | Bake Your Day on February 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Such a great idea for mac & cheese!


  7. Lorry on February 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

    We have an awesome little restaurant here in Central Ohio. It is at the Unusual Junction and called The Lava Rock Grill. They make mac and cheese and you can order your own add ins. It is awesome! I get broccoli, ham, tomatoes and mushrooms. They mix it all buttered bread crumbs and broil them toasty. Heaven! You can like The Lava Rock Grill on facebook. I hit Pittsburgh often. My daughter and her family live in Edgewood. Love your blog!


  8. angela@spinachtiger on February 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

    This would make my husband so happy. He loves mac and cheese and seafood.


  9. Heather @ SugarDish(Me) on February 5, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I bet this is super good! Awhile ago I made this:
    after reading the phrase “Firecracker Shrimp Mac ‘n’ Cheese” on a restaurant menu. It’s still one of my favorites!!


  10. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on February 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Homemade mac and cheese is the best! Love the addition of shrimp!


  11. marie @ little kitchie on February 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

    OK, I have already seen this all over pinterest and I LOVE it! Such an amazing idea. Going to for sure make this for my husband, who loves mac and cheese AND all things Cajun! YUM!


  12. Holiday Baker Man on February 5, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    What a great change up!


  13. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on February 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Definitely not a problem – the more mac n cheese creations, the better! Nothing beats homemade mac n cheese!


  14. Tracey on February 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    This sounds amazing, and I love that it isn’t too spicy. I’m a big heat wimp 🙂 And how cute is your little bowl, just perfect for the dish!


  15. Jenny on February 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I just made some macaroni and cheese and threw some green chili into it. I am from PA originally and never really ate green chili, but I moved to AZ 10 years ago and it’s everywhere here. Anyway, it was FANTASTIC. So maybe you can come up with a new recipe for green chili mac & cheese with chicken or something. YUM!


  16. Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife on February 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Mac and cheese is so good and comforting, love your twist!


  17. Megan on February 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Ohhhh holy geez!! I have been loving Mac n cheese month – and this one totally just took the whole thing. I did spinach artichoke mac for the mac month- but I’ve been having unrelenting cravings for shrmp and cajun things lately, this totally pushed me over the EDGE!!


  18. Katharine on February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    This is definitely getting made for Fat Tuesday along with the Buckeye brownies from yesterday….if I can wait that long! 🙂 I may have to have a “practice run night”!


  19. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on February 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    This sounds so good- I love spicy! There seriously are so many different variations to choose from for mac & cheese, but I’ve never thought of adding shrimp!


  20. JanetFCTC on February 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Oooo, I think I’m in love with you now. Shrimp is a definite favorite of mine so to incorporate it and spiciness into mac and cheese makes me very very happy…and hungry


  21. Meghan on February 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    This could very easily become my new favorite mac and cheese recipe! Looks fantastic!!


  22. Tiffiny Felix on February 6, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Oh. My. Wow. Totally pinning this. I love the idea of these flavors together! 😀


  23. Duoscreed on February 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Perfect meal for lent!


  24. Gail Hebert on February 8, 2013 at 9:08 am

    this sounds delicious, do you use uncooked shrimp?


    • Michelle on February 10th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Gail, Yes you start with uncooked shrimp; it gets cooked in step #2.


  25. Molly_Bakelette on February 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Um that mug-ish thing is ADORABLE! Where could I get me hands on one?


    • Michelle on February 10th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Molly, I got it at either Marshalls or TJMaxx (can’t remember which one). It was one of those one-off things in their kitchen section that was too cute not to snatch up!


  26. Photo Booths Oak Brook Il on February 10, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Making this one on Wednesday… the start of lent and lots of fish 🙂


  27. Liz on February 10, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    What size shrimp did you use?


    • Michelle on February 11th, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Hi Liz, I believe I used medium-size shrimp, but it truly doesn’t matter since you’re chopping it up.


  28. Peteer @Feed Your Soul Too on April 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Love cajun and your recipe. Featured it on my Friday Five – Cajun addition over @ Feed Your Soul Too –


  29. Renee on December 18, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    my second batch of this is cooking in the oven as I type. first time I made it it was awesome.. I also added chicken along with the shrimp and cooked it the same way as the shrimp….love this recipe


  30. Yacoub on February 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I’d like to bring this to a potluck… but, how would I warm it up the next day?


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Hi Yacoub, I would cover it with foil and cook at 350 degrees until warmed through.


  31. Nilüfer Satılık Daire on November 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Oh. My. Wow. Totally pinning this. I love the idea of these flavors together!


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