Shrimp Mac and Cheese – It’s Gourmet!

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Shrimp Mac and Cheese elevates this childhood favorite to a gourmet recipe that kids and adults will love! Fancy enough for a special occasion, easy enough to make every day.

Shrimp Mac and Cheese in a small bowl with shells around it

Have I mentioned that a macaroni and cheese obsession has been going on at our house…since I can’t remember when? Yep. We have it several 4-5 times a month…at least. And, we’re not talking about the microwave version with questionable cheese. It’s the real deal! It doesn’t take much longer to make either.

This is our special occasion version that incorporates lobster-like rock shrimp to take this recipe over-the-top.

It’s quick to make because the shrimp is boiled, along with the pasta. Another option is to cook it on the stove-top. Check out this technique in Rock Shrimp in Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce (except you won’t need the extra sauce.)

The result is a creamy, delicious gourmet mac and cheese!

Clean-Eating Swaps for Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Since this family favorite is here to stay, my only choice in the matter was to join the party and make it follow the guidelines for clean-eating. One easy switch was exchanging white pasta for a high fiber alternative. To that end, I have boxes and boxes (and boxes) of high fiber pasta shells in my pantry so I can whip up a batch at a moment’s notice.

We also used whole wheat pastry flour to make the roux and used whole milk products for milk, butter and cheese. No short-cuts with pre-shredded cheese either.

The result is absolutely decadent, “adult” gourmet mac and cheese. It may not be the lowest calorie recipe I’ve ever made. But, it is one of the most delicious and has a place in a clean-eating diet. (Insert very big smile!)

I’d take this over sugary dessert any day of the week!

Large glass bowl with Shrimp Mac and Cheese Recipe in itg

How to Make Shrimp Mac and Cheese

This mac and cheese recipe follows the typical process of preparing a roux, adding milk and spices and cooking until it thickens. Sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheeses are stirred in and then the entire cheesy mixture coats pasta shells and shrimp. The final dish will make you swoon!

We used rock shrimp, but any type will work. In case you’re not familiar with rock shrimp, it tastes a bit like lobster and looks like a tiny lobster too. Sometimes, I refer to this recipe as my fake-out lobster mac and cheese!

Raw rock shrimp that is peeled and deveined

To save time and a pot, we cooked the pasta and shrimp at the same time. However, they can be cooked separately.  Rock shrimp cooks very quickly and can be cooked on the stove-top or broiled too. See Spicy Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits and Shrimp Zoodles for a quick stove-top method to cook shrimp and change the spices according to your tastes.

Either way, serve it on a special dish and savor every bite with someone you love!

Fancy Gourmet Mac and Cheese with Shrimp on a clam shell

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5 from 2 votes

Shrimp Mac and Cheese Recipe

Shrimp Mac and Cheese elevates this childhood favorite to a gourmet treat that kids and adults will love! Fancy enough for a special occasion, easy enough to make every day.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 621kcal


  • 1 pound pasta whole wheat, elbows or small shells
  • 1 pound shrimp we used rock shrimp; peeled, deveined and tail off
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded


  • Cook pasta according to package directions, adding about 1 cup of additional water and adding the shrimp to the pot during the last 3 minutes of cooking.
  • Drain the pasta and shrimp and set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for about one minute to form a roux. 
  • Add milk, salt, white pepper and dry mustard to and stir to combine.
  • Raise heat to medium-high and continue whisking until the mixture just begins to bubble and sauce has thickened. Remove from heat.
  • Add cheeses to the pot and stir until melted.
  • Add pasta and shrimp to and stir to thoroughly coat with cheese.
  • Enjoy.


Calories: 621kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 253mg | Sodium: 1198mg | Potassium: 432mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 3.1mg | Calcium: 582mg | Iron: 4.8mg
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  1. Sounds & looks great! I don’t think I’ve tried rock shrimp, will have to keep my eyes open for some.

  2. This looks like the best mac n cheese ever! I am always looking for new ways to make it as it’s my favorite food.

  3. I’d gladly eat mac & cheese EVERY day! Love the idea of adding shrimp

  4. I’m with you the creamier and cheesier the better

  5. I absolutely love the healthy changes that you made…whole wheat pasta, ww pastry flour, etc. That’s exactly how we like to eat pasta and I know my family would love this recipe.

  6. The healthy substitutions are practically irrelevant because this mac and cheese looks so creamy and delicious that I doubt their full fat counterparts are even missed. My family would love this one!

  7. I really like all the healthy subs…from looking at the photos and how creamy it is, you’d never know! The photos with the shells are so pretty and Florida, Marjorie!!

  8. How cute to serve it in a shell, love it! Love the hidden treasures of shrimp too!

  9. Hello gorgeous. You can never go wrong adding shrimp!

  10. This is such a decadent looking mac and cheese, I can’t believe there are so many healthy swaps!

  11. This is suome of the best looking mac and cheese that I’ve ever seen. I especially love that you’ve added the shrimp. I adore shrimp, pasta and cheese!

  12. This mac and cheese recipes looks great! A very nice way of making it. I adore shrimp so I really love this. It is very fascinating!

  13. This looks so good, I always need a good Mac and cheese recipe!

  14. Yum!! I love mac and cheese with lobster, but don’t think I’ve ever had it with shrimp! Such a great idea 🙂

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