Stuffed shrimp is one of the all-time great special occasion dinners. For a low-stress version of the classic recipe, make this Baked Crab-Stuffed Shrimp Casserole Recipe. Full of tender shrimp, succulent crab meat and buttery cracker filling, this easy casserole will be the highlight of your holiday!
It's hard to beat a well-seasoned shrimp that's perfectly cooked and steaming hot. But if you bake that shrimp in a sea of savory crab cake mixture and top it with a little melted butter? Yes, indeed. Even better!
You're going to love this baked crab-stuffed shrimp casserole because it's ultra-savory, can feed a crowd, and tastes like a fancy, restaurant-quality dish. The recipe can be prepared in advance and baked right before serving, so it can be on the table in 20 minutes!
It's celebration and holiday-worthy, but simple enough for a casual Sunday supper with friends and family.
A few notes on shrimp: the recipe calls for jumbo shrimp because they make for an impressive presentation and stand up beautifully in the casserole dish. But feel free to use whatever shrimp you have or that fits the budget.
Second, I prefer using shelled, but tail on shrimp, as the tails are reminiscent of a pork crown roast and feel like a fancy touch. But if I've learned anything in my time as a seafood-forward recipe developer, it's that people have very strong opinions about fish bones and shrimp shells. So if the tails are throwing you off your game, by all means, remove them before baking!
What you need to make stuffed shrimp casserole:
Shrimp: I have easy access to jumbo shrimp at a reasonable price, so it's my preferred shrimp size for this recipe. But the beauty of a stuffed shrimp casserole is that you can use any size of shrimp because you don't have to stuff shrimp and get them to stand up in the pan! Be mindful that smaller shrimp will increase the number of shrimp and cook more quickly, so for medium shrimp, plan to cook for about 12 minutes before switching to broil.
Crab meat: lump crab meat would be lovely in this dish. I use claw meat, because it's the easiest for me to access in Portugal. If crab meat isn't in the budget, no worries! Cut up another pound of small shrimp or add bay scallops to the seasoned cracker mixture.
Crackers: buttery clubhouse-style crackers are my favorite flavor and texture in the stuffing, but feel free to use buttery Ritz crackers or even Panko breadcrumbs in the stuffing. If using panko, taste the crab filling before adding to the casserole dish as you may need an extra pinch of Old Bay and salt.
Veggies and fresh herbs: the crab and cracker stuffing in this easy seafood casserole is made even more delicious with finely diced vegetables and garlic. We add celery, shallot and red bell pepper to the mix, along with fresh garlic. Substitute red onion, or green pepper, if needed. Skip the celery if you'll have a mutiny on your hands, but it only adds to the amazing flavors and textures in this dish! Finally, flat leaf parsley is folded into the stuffing, and used as a garnish on our delicious shrimp casserole.
Seasoning: salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and a sprinkle of paprika over the casserole is all you'll need for this recipe. If you don't have Old Bay, grab your favorite seafood seasoning or Cajun spice mix. If you're looking for a spicy kick, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Parmesan: parmesan cheese adds salty, nutty flavor to our baked stuffed shrimp recipe and helps our stuffing hold together. Substitute asiago or romano, if needed.
Dry sherry: seafood and dry sherry are a match made in Heaven. Substitute marsala, dry white wine or stock, if needed.
Butter: we use melted butter to saute our vegetables and garlic, then scatter a bit over our casserole before baking to ensure a crispy browned top to our cracker or breadcrumb mixture. Substitute olive oil, if needed.
Lemon: the zest of our lemon will add big lemony flavor to our stuffing, and we serve the finished casserole with lemon wedges.
Full ingredient list and measurements included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions:
Preheat the oven to 375℉.
To begin, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add shallot, celery, red pepper and garlic. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant and tender.
Add sherry to the pan (carefully, if you’re working over an open flame) and cook for another minute. Finally, add crushed cracker crumbs, Old Bay, black pepper, lemon zest and chopped parsley. Toss the ingredients together and remove from the heat to let the mixture cool a bit.
In a 2 ½ or 3 quart casserole dish, add your shrimp, cleaned and butterflied. (To butterfly shrimp, cut along the outside of the shrimp to clean the vein, then keep cutting until you've sliced almost through the shrimp. Rinse the shrimp and dry very well.) Drizzle the shrimp in the casserole dish with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place shrimp around the dish with the flat, cut side down and the tails up.
Once the stuffing has cooled a bit, add your crab meat and mayonnaise into the room temperature stuffing mixture. Gently fold together without breaking up the crab.
Spoon the seafood stuffing into the pan of shrimp, keeping the tail side of the shrimp coming up through the stuffing. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into small pieces and scatter over the casserole. Sprinkle with a touch of paprika, for additional color and flavor.
Bake in preheated oven for about 15-18 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through and the casserole is golden brown. Broil for the final 2 minutes.
Serve with additional parsley for garnish and lemon wedges for a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
You can! The stuffing can be made up to a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I find that adding the cracker crumbs to the veggies ahead of time made the stuffing softer when baked. So if prepping in advance, I prefer to make the sauteed veggies ahead of time, and prep the shrimp, but then mix the stuffing right before baking.
Panko breadcrumbs or homemade breadcrumbs are a great option. Keep in mind these substitutions will have less salt and seasoning than crackers. So taste your stuffing mixture before baking to determine if you should add a bit more salt or Old Bay to the mix.
The casserole packs plenty of flavor on its own. But if you like serving your crab cakes with sauce, you might add one here, too. Include cocktail sauce, creamy mustard garlic sauce or a spicy aioli on the table for your guests to add, as needed.
This shrimp casserole will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, warm gently in a 350℉ oven until just heated through.