Make Ahead Shrimp Casserole With Tomato Sauce
This make ahead shrimp casserole recipe is one of my favorite dishes to take to a potluck dinner or serve on a buffet. Made with tomato sauce, cheese and Ziti pasta (along with the shrimp), it’s a big hit with all of my friends. On top of that, it’s easy to make and freezes well (so you can cook it well in advance), and you can see why I love it so much!
This easy-to-make shrimp casserole dish is one of my favorite recipes to take to a potluck dinner.
With its tomato sauce and combination of Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, it tastes a lot like lasagna (and who doesn’t love lasagna?)
But because it’s made with Ziti pasta and shrimp which both come in bite-sized pieces, it’s easier to serve on a buffet than lasagna.
And the shrimp makes it a little out of the ordinary so it goes over well at special events and holiday parties.
Plus, it can be made ahead of time and frozen (and you know how much I love recipes I can do in advance!)
This recipe was part of the 2019 12 Days of Holiday Ideas event, hosted by Shirley of Intelligent Domestications and Erlene of My Pinterventures.
Which means at the bottom of the post you will find a whole bunch of links to other delicious potluck recipes, so you’re sure to find some you like!
And if you want to see the rest of our blog hop topics for 2019, you can find a list of them the Kick-Off post HERE.
And now on to our shrimp casserole recipe.
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This recipe makes 12 to 15 servings of casserole depending on how big you make the slices.
For a potluck, I just put out a large spoon and let people scoop it themselves (rather than cutting it). This usually means you get more servings out of it, since most will only take a spoonful or two.
Here’s your shopping list:
- Dairy: 4 oz cream cheese, 2/3 cup sour cream, 4 oz mozzarella cheese (or 1 cup shredded), ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Oil: 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh vegetables: 1 large onion, 2 garlic cloves
- Spices: 1 teaspoon dried parsley, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Seasoning: ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Canned goods: 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes, 1 14-oz can of tomato sauce
- Seafood: 2 pounds raw shrimp. It needs to be peeled (and de-veined) for this recipe, so you can save yourself some time by buying it that way. But make sure it isn’t cooked.
- Pasta: 2½ cups of Ziti pasta
- If you don’t have tomato sauce, use an 8-ounce can of tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water instead.
- Substitute 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning for the parsley, basil and oregano.
- You can use any small pasta such as rotini instead of the Ziti.
How To Make Shrimp Casserole
If you are going to bake the shrimp casserole right away, pre-heat the oven to 350 deg. F.
Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator a couple of hours beforehand to let it soften.
If you forget to do this, you can also heat it on LOW power for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave. Make sure to remove the foil wrapper and don’t zap it for too long (you don’t want it to be totally melted).
Chop the onions.
Mince the garlic.
If your shrimp hasn’t been peeled and de-veined, you’ll need to do that now.
Make the cream cheese layer
With a mixer, mix the cream cheese and sour cream together in a large bowl for a minute or two.
The mixture should be smooth and creamy.
Make the tomato sauce
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. About 5 minutes.
Next stir in the parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
Then add the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Boil the pasta
In the meantime, boil 2½ cups of pasta in a medium-sized pot for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. It will cook some more in the casserole so you don’t want it too soft now, or it will end up being too mushy.
Then drain the water and set the pasta aside.
Note that most boxes of Ziti contain more than 2½ cups so measure before you add it.
Don’t be tempted to add the whole box. Too much pasta will make the casserole dry.
Cook the shrimp
When the tomato sauce mixture has finished simmering, add the shrimp to it.
Cook the shrimp for about 5 minutes or until it has turned pink.
Put the casserole together
Stir the pasta into the tomato sauce and shrimp mixture. I do this in the same pot that the tomato sauce was in so I don’t have to dirty another bowl.
Spread half of the tomato sauce and pasta mixture in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
Then layer the cream cheese mixture on top of the tomato sauce.
Next, spread the other half of the tomato sauce mixture over the cream cheese.
Finally, sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheeses over the top.
Cover with foil.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Serve hot and enjoy!
I like to serve this shrimp casserole with this garlic bread recipe and some Caesar salad…which I’m sorry to say I usually buy in a kit from the grocery store 🙂
How to make it ahead of time
To make this dish ahead of time, make it all the way up to the point of baking it. (So it has been put together, but not cooked yet).
Then store it in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to cook it.
If you are putting it in the refrigerator, it will keep for a day or two. Take it out 30 minutes before cooking to let it warm up to room temperature first.
It will store in the freezer for up to 3 months. I usually wrap it in plastic to make sure it is sealed. Then take it out a few hours early so that it thaws before you cook it.
Other casserole recipes you might like
Other shrimp recipes you might like
- Electric mixer and bowl
- Large pot
- Medium pot
- 9" x 13" baking pan
- 4 oz cream cheese
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
- 2 pounds shrimp peeled and de-veined
- 2 ½ cups Ziti pasta
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the oven to 350ºF.
- In the mixer, combine the cream cheese and sour cream. Set aside.
- In the large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper
- Add the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil some water in the medium-sized pot.
- Cook the pasta for 8 minutes, or until al dente.
- Drain and set aside.
- Once the tomato sauce has finished simmering, add the shrimp.
- Cook for about 5 minutes until the shrimp has turned pink.
- Add the pasta to the tomato sauce and shrimp mixture.
- Spread half of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of the 13" x 9" baking dish.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the tomato sauce.
- Spread the other half of the tomato sauce mixture over the cream cheese layer.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top.
- Cover with foil.
- Bake for an hour, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes.
- To make ahead of time, make the casserole up to the point of baking it. Then wrap it in saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for a day or two. Take it out 30 minutes before baking to let it warm to room temperature.
- This casserole can also be frozen for up to 3 months. After you have put it together in the 9″ x 13″ baking pan, but before you have baked it, wrap it in saran wrap and put it in the freezer. To serve later, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw for a few hours. Then bake as in the directions above.
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
More Potluck Recipes
And now, as promised, here are all of the other bloggers’ pot luck recipes.
Just click this link to see all of their ideas.
Do you have comments or questions on our make-ahead shrimp casserole? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on November 29, 2019 but was updated with new content on October 12, 2022.
I love seafood casseroles! We will definitely have to try this!
Thanks, Cherryl! I love seafood casseroles, too…and this recipe is definitely one of my favorites 🙂
This sounds yummy and much easier to make than lasagne. We’re big shrimp lovers over here, especially during the holidays so this sounds perfect. Pinned
Thanks, Marie! We’re big shrimp lovers, too 🙂 And this is one of our favorites!
Your recipe list of ingredients calls for a 14 Oz. can of tomato SAUCE, but the recipe directions say to add the tomato PASTE. So which is correct, 14 Oz of tomato Paste or Sauce???
Hi Anne…sorry for the mistake. It’s Tomato Sauce (not tomato paste). I’ll fix that. Thanks for letting me know! Wanda.
This look so easy my favorite dishes l will try it for real thanks for the idea