Today’s shrimp mac and cheese is a more nutritious take on the simple, easy comfort food you love.
Shrimp Mac and Cheese — a Nutritious Comfort Food
Nothing screams ‘American Classic’ like a pot of sticky mac and cheese. It tastes so good and with just a few ingredients it is so simple anyone can make it without instructions.
Simplicity is beautiful, but it also allows for versatility. We used to think there was nothing special about lettuce and leafy greens, but things changed when ingredients like Ranch or bacon were added. Mac and cheese, delicious as they already are together, can be even tastier with the right additions.
Today’s recipe adds shrimp to the equation. We cook it with garlic, butter, and spices until a plethora of flavors are developed to their fullest. This concoction is then used as the base for our mac and cheese. It’s still that simple dish with ingredients you know and love, only packed with much more flavor.
In short, if you need an easy, cheesy, nutritious meal, this mac and cheese shrimp is definitely worth your try.
What Makes This Mac and Cheese Shrimp Healthy?
The original recipe for macaroni and cheese brings plenty of refined carbs and fats to the table. In this way, it can form a part of a healthy diet, but it would be of more nutritional value should there be some proteins.
Shrimp happens to have just the right kind of proteins plus a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids. These are considered healthy fats known to reduce LDL cholesterol and have positive impacts on the brain.
Mac and cheese, however, tends to be high in saturated fats and calories, and that’s what makes it taste good. We realized that reducing the cheese to the amount we consider healthy greatly affected the taste, definitely not what we wanted.
As a last resort, we crafted this recipe until we found the most delicious ratio of ingredients and made it a side dish instead of a main dish. It does not have the most satisfying portion size as a side, but it does taste great and has a balanced nutritional profile. We suggest pairing it with cooked meats and a salad to make a full nutritious meal.
Ingredients for Mac and Cheese Shrimp
For our shrimp mac and cheese, you’ll need cooked macaroni pasta, shrimp, cheddar cheese, milk, cream, garlic, flour, butter, and a few other ingredients.
With the portion size reduced, we still have to use a moderate amount of cream to keep the saturated fats low. To replicate the exact creamy mouthfeel, we introduce all-purpose flour to the milk-cream mixture. As a result, the sauce thickens when heated, and since there is still real cream present, the authentic taste is maintained.
We also add some chicken broth instead of plain water for yet another layer of flavor.
Since the recipe includes shrimp, it’s also a great idea to use shrimp broth instead of chicken broth, and it’s super easy to make:
- Begin by cooking the shrimp peel in a pot with some canola oil until the bottom chars a little. Deglaze it with a splash of white wine, scrape the bottom, then add water to it and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Other ingredients you can use include garlic, paprika, and fresh parsley. Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking.
How to Make Mac and Cheese Shrimp
There are some shrimp mac and cheese recipes that call for uncooked macaroni, but they end up taking more time than could’ve been. What we did was allow the macaroni to cook separately in the back while we prepped the ingredients to reduce the actual cooking time. The macaroni should be cooked just until al-dente so that it’s still capable of absorbing flavors.
Once it’s cooked and the ingredients are all prepped and measured:
- Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces.
- Melt butter in the skillet and add garlic to saute.
- Add shrimp and cook.
- Stir in paprika and flour.
- Add milk, cream, salt, and chicken broth, and simmer to reduce.
- Add al-dente macaroni and simmer. Preheat the oven to 480°F.
- Divide the mixture among ramekins.
- Sprinkle with cheddar and bake.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
Ingredient measurements are listed in our printable ‘Shrimp Mac and Cheese Recipe’ card at the bottom of this article.
Storing and Reheating the Leftovers
Once any leftovers have cooled to room temperature, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 days. To reheat, transfer them to a room-temperature ramekin, and bake at 480°F for 5 minutes.
The leftovers can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Freezers tend to have less space than the refrigeration compartment, so we recommend transferring each serving into a Ziploc bag first. Reheat as you would with the refrigerated leftovers.
Shrimp Mac And Cheese Recipe
This shrimp mac and cheese recipe is a fine combination of everyone's favorite comfort food and shrimp. It takes 25 minutes, start to finish, and can be easily stored.
- cook TIME 17 mins
- prep TIME 8 mins
- total TIME 25 mins
- COURSE Side Dish
- CUISINE American
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 231 kcal
- 0.5 tbspunsalted butter
- 1 tbspminced garlic
- 6 ozpeeled shrimp (from 12 oz raw shrimp)
- 0.5 tsppaprika
- 4 tspall-purpose flour
- 1 cupwhole milk
- 1 tbspheavy cream
- 0.3 tspsalt
- 0.3 cupunsalted chicken broth
- 6 ozcooked macaroni
- 0.5 ozgrated cheddar
- 2 tbspparsley (minced)
Cut 6 oz peeled shrimp into bite-sized pieces.
Melt 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and sauté 1 tbsp garlic in it for 30 seconds.
Add the chopped shrimp in and stir to cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in 1/4 tsp paprika and 4 tsp all-purpose flour.
Pour in 1 cup whole milk, 1 tbsp heavy cream, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup unsalted broth. Simmer on low heat for 3 minutes.
Add 6 oz cooked macaroni in and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes or until the mixture thickens, like so. While it’s simmering, preheat the oven to 480°F.
Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, and place each portion into a ramekin.
Sprinkle 0.5 oz cheddar on top of the ramekins, then slide into the oven and bake for 7 minutes.
Garnish with 2 tbsp parsley and enjoy.