Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese is a homemade copycat version of a popular restaurant dish, but its been lightened up and simplified. Crispy breaded baked shrimp that has been marinated in your favorite hot sauce is scattered over creamy homemade macaroni and cheese for easy and filling comfort food at its best.

Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Sometimes you just hafta let the food do the talking…

Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese does an awful lot of talking.

This meal packed such a punch I was rendered a little bit speechless.

I was inspired by a blurb on a restaurant menu– I only read the title “Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese” and squinted my eyes at a little thumbnail picture. I didn’t order it, but I filed the idea away for later. I’m so glad later FINALLY came.

Marinate the Shrimp in Hot Sauce

I marinated raw shrimp in my favorite hot sauce.

Panko Bread Crumbs and Crushed Red Pepper for Breading Shrimp

I cut crushed red pepper, garlic powder, a little cayenne pepper and a pinch of kosher salt into panko bread crumbs.

Bread the Marinated Shrimp

I dredged my marinated shrimp in the breadcrumb mixture and lightly oiled a baking sheet. I spread them across the baking sheet in an even layer and baked them at 350 for about 15 minutes- the crust turned out crispy and the shrimp pinked up nicely without being chewy.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

I made my mac’n’cheese with this recipe from Andie @ Can You Stay for Dinner? This is the recipe I ALWAYS use for macaroni & cheese… (and we rock the buffalo part when we’re feeling spicy). If you’ve never read this blog, put it on your to do list.

When the shrimp comes out of the oven, toss it on top of the creamy macaroni & cheese, and sprinkle generously with some chopped green onions.


Snip the ends off of fresh green beans. Toss them in a pot of boiling water for 4 or 5 minutes and then drain (love my beans with a little crunch). Heat some olive oil in the pan and toss in a couple cloves of chopped garlic. Saute the garlic until it’s soft. Drizzle the oil and garlic over the green beans.

Garlic Green Beans RecipeGarlic Green BeansFirecracker Shrimp Macaroni n Cheese with Garlic Green Beans

Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 pound raw, peeled & deveined shrimp, tails off
  • 1 cup Texas Pete
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used cavatappi)
  • 1 cup cold milk (I used lowfat milk)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¾ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used lowfat cheese)
  • 2 chopped green onions for garnish ***optional***
  1. At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, pour the Texas Pete over the shrimp in a medium sized bowl, cover, and place in the fridge to marinate. The longer the shrimp sits in the sauce, the spicier it will be.
  2. Combine the panko bread crumbs, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and kosher salt in a food processor OR cut the ingredients together with a knife.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  4. Dredge the marinated shrimp in the bread crumb mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes (shrimp will be pink, breading will be crisp).
  6. While the shrimp cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  7. Whisk the cornstarch into the cold milk and then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat stirring constantly and melt the butter in the liquid. Stir in the cheese, keep stirring until it’s all melted into a happy sauce.
  8. Pour over the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Cover the macaroni & cheese with the crispy cooked shrimp and garnish with the green onions.

Thank you to Andie @ Can You Stay for Dinner for posting to the most delicious (and simple to make + cut some calories) macaroni and cheese. And thank you to the Copper River Grill for putting something as obscene as Firecracker Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese on your menu to give me something to fantasize about.


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  1. says

    After reading your post, I can imagine the nice crunchy and flavorsome crumbs are like firecrackers in your mouth. Sounds very exciting. Got to bookmark this recipe and try cooking for myself.

  2. says

    I promise you, my belly did a flip when my eyes saw the first pic! That looks dangerously good! Its being zonks since i made Mac and Cheese, but mainly cos I am so crap at it :-( So will be nosying in on the recipe for that too…

    Good post Heather! :-))

    • says

      You CAN do this, Caroline! I can’t actually believe you’d have trouble making anything… just sayin. This is the easiest “from scratch” mac n cheese I’ve ever made- it comes together really quickly too.And thank you!

      • says

        Pah! Trust me, its the good stuff that gets posted LOL! No, I am bad at it….husband’s mum makes a good one that he always compares to. And mine never quite reach the same level lol…good thing I love his ma to bits, or it’d be handbags at dawn!

  3. Peggy Campbell says

    I wish I liked shrimp! I know, I am one of the few….but it does sound yummy! When did you go to Copper River Grill? That is where we spent hours driving around trying to find! Chuck loves that place!

    • says

      You could SO do this with chicken! Just substitute chicken pieces for the shrimp.

      I saw this on their menu online after you guys told me your story about driving for hours– it’s almost in Spartanburg, which from here is about 30 minutes. From there it would probably take you 2 hours (since you guys always observe the speed limit :) ). We went last weekend because of Chuck’s rave reviews; figured if he was willing to get lost for hours to eat there it HAD to be good. But it was BUSY. Too busy for my taste (we waited till 9 to go eat and still had to wait 30 mins for a table). When we finally got sat it was at that tiny half booth/half table two top in between two other couples, so it was like dining with strangers. If it were a Japanese steakhouse I would have expected that, but note to all restaurants: NO ONE WANTS TO SIT AT THAT LITTLE TABLE. We had to holler to hear each other, so the strangers around us could hear every word lol. The food was great & the service was good (except the waiter forgot our appetizer). We will go back, but NEVER on a weekend night. Maybe for lunch sometime :)

  4. {Main St. Cuisine} says

    Heather, your pics are awesome! I adore Panko breadcrumbs and it looks like you got the flavors just right. My hubby would give me a hug if I presented firecracker shrimp macaroni & cheese at the dinner table (he’s good that way!).

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