Auntie Monica's Seafood Mac and Cheese


Loaded with fresh shrimp, crab, and lobster and layered with a rich mixture of cheeses, this macaroni and cheese gets an extra boost of spice from liquid shrimp-and-crab boil. The boil seasoning lends its long-cooked flavor to the casserole without overcooking the delicate seafood. This recipe comes from Monica Williams, chef Kia Damon's auntie and former drill instructor for the United States Marine Corps.

Auntie Monica’s Seafood Mac and Cheese
Photo: Stacy Howell
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins


  • 3 quarts water

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1 pound uncooked penne or large elbow macaroni 

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 

  • 3 cups whole milk 

  • 2 cups half-and-half 

  • 12 ounces Gouda or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 3 cups) 

  • 12 ounces Muenster or mild cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups) 

  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) 

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • ¼ cup diced yellow onion

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt (such as Lawry's) 

  • 1 tablespoon liquid shrimp-and-crab boil (such as Zatarain's) (optional) 

  • 2 to 3 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco), to taste

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided 

  • 1 pound peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp

  • 8 ounces steamed lobster (such as Luke's), chopped into chunks

  • 8 ounces fresh lump crabmeat, drained and picked over

  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large stockpot over high. Add 3 tablespoons kosher salt to boiling water. Add pasta; cook, stirring once, 2 minutes less than package directions for al dente. Remove from heat. Drain pasta; do not rinse. Return pasta to stockpot, and gently toss with 1 tablespoon oil.

  2. Microwave milk and half-and-half in a large microwavable bowl on HIGH until warmed, 3 to 4 minutes; set aside. Stir together all cheeses in a large bowl; set aside.

  3. Melt butter with remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly, until combined but not browned, about 1 minute. Add thyme and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in warm milk mixture until smooth. Stir in seasoned salt, liquid shrimp-and-crab boil (if using), hot sauce, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add 3 cups cheese mixture; remove from heat, and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Stir in drained pasta until fully coated.

  4. 4. Place shrimp, lobster, crabmeat, remaining ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl; toss gently to combine. Lightly coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray; pour in half of pasta mixture. Sprinkle half of seafood mixture in an even layer on pasta; sprinkle with 2 cups cheese mixture. Repeat layers once with remaining pasta mixture, seafood mixture, and cheese mixture. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Make Ahead

Seafood mac and cheese can be assembled up to 1 day in advance; cover tightly with plastic wrap then aluminum foil, and refrigerate. One hour before baking, remove plastic wrap, and re-cover with foil. Bake as directed.

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