This seafood shells & cheese recipe is basically fancified mac & cheese. Make it as Shrimp Mac & Cheese, Lobster Mac & Cheese or Scallops Mac & Cheese! Smoked cheese in the sauce and ground almonds in the crumb topping makes it extra special.
This seafood shells recipe is comfort food elevated to a whole new level. This is a versatile dish that can be used with any seafood you like really. I most often make it very simply with shrimp for an inexpensive indulgence but you could easily use lobster, scallops or crab as well. For special occasions, a combination of any of those would be incredibly delicious.
I love the slightly smoky note of the smoked cheese in this recipe but if that isn’t to your taste, just use an un-smoked variety. Mild cheeses will work best in this recipe, so substitute another that you may like better too.
This is quite a rich and indulgent dish, so a little goes a long way. One f my favourite ways to serve it is in individual small gratin dishes as the first course at a celebration dinner party, where it can be enjoyed to it’s fullest when serving something a little lighter as the main course.
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Originally published Oct 20, 2007, Updated Dec 2017 to include the option for metric measurements and to provide nutritional information.
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Seafood Shells and Cheese. A rich, indulgent version of mac and cheese ideal for a celebration dinner.
- 2 cups medium sized shell pasta uncooked
- 1 pound shrimp or other seafood either Lobster, Crab, Scallops
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 4 ounces smoked Gruyere cheese grated (You can substitute Asiago, Parmesan or Romano.)
- 1 tsp fresh chopped tarragon or dill
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard preferably whole grain
- 4 ounces mozzarella
- 4 ounces Monterey Jack Emmental, Swiss or Jarlsberg Cheese, your preference.
- 1 cup cracker or bread crumbs I use Ritz cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup ground almonds
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp chopped tarragon
- Pinch of cracked black pepper
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water to al dente. Do not over cook it. Slightly undercooked would be preferable.
Begin by lightly steaming the seafood. It is important not to over cook the seafood for this recipe. Under cooking it by 5 minutes or so is preferable because the seafood does get reheated and cooks somewhat in the oven as well. Shrimp and scallops can be used uncooked if you prefer. Uncooked large shrimp or medium size scallops or large chunks of cooked lobster, crab or cod or a combination of all work well.
Scald the milk in the microwave or on the stove top to almost boiling.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook together the 3 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp flour, salt and pepper for 2 minutes.
Whisking constantly, slowly pour in scalded milk. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in the Gruyere cheese, tarragon and Dijon mustard. Set aside
Grate the other cheeses, mix them together and set aside.
Grease an 8-10 cup casserole dish well with butter (or 4 large individual gratin dishes)
Place 1/3 of the pasta in the bottom of the dish.
Pour on 1/3 the sauce.
Scatter half the seafood over the surface.
Repeat the layers ending with the grated cheese on the top.
Mix all of the ingredients for the crumb topping together and sprinkle evenly over the grated cheese.
Cover casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 15 minutes longer.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.
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