Overhead shot of chipotle mac and cheese with blackened shrimp in white bowl with tomatoes and avocado

Chipotle Mac and Cheese with Blackened Shrimp

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Southwestern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 main dishes
Calories: 784kcal
Author: Caroline Lindsey
Chipotle mac and cheese is topped with blackened shrimp, fresh tomato and avocado for a colorful contrast of flavors and textures. This dish presents beautifully for company and is simple enough for a weeknight dinner!
Print Recipe


  • 16 oz dried cavatappi pasta or penne, rotini, or macaroni
  • 5 tbsp butter divided
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded colby jack cheese
  • 7 oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 1 large avocado ripe but firm, diced

For the blackening seasoning

  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp paprika use smoked paprika if possible!
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook cavatappi pasta according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, mix together blackening seasoning ingredients. Reserve 2 tsp of the spice blend for later.
  • Pat shrimp dry with paper towels, then toss with the rest of the blackening seasoning in a bowl or ziploc bag.
  • Preheat a skillet (I like to use cast iron) to medium heat (medium high if using non-stick instead of cast iron). Melt 1 tbsp butter and arrange the seasoned shrimp in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until opaque. Remove from heat and cover with a lid or on a plate with foil to keep the shrimp warm. 
  • Drain pasta. In the now-empty pasta pot (I leave the pasta in the colander for a bit), melt 4 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir frequently for a couple minutes or until the mixture takes on a bit of a golden hue. 
  • Slowly whisk milk into the roux (the butter-flour mixture) until well combined. The sauce should thicken fairly quickly. When thickened, turn heat to low and add cheese and reserved 2 tsp spice blend.
  • Remove seeds from chipotle peppers and finely chop them. Add chopped peppers and 3 tbsp adobo sauce from the can into cheese sauce. If you like your pasta spicier, you can add some of the chipotle seeds back into the sauce, to taste. Stir drained pasta into cheese sauce.
  •  Serve in bowls topped with shrimp, fresh chopped tomatoes, and avocado.


Calories: 784kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 269mg | Sodium: 2335mg | Potassium: 765mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 45.1% | Vitamin C: 15.5% | Calcium: 58.9% | Iron: 26%