Made with shellfish and crabmeat, a traditional white sauce, and Parmesan cheese, this seafood lasagna recipe might break all the outdated rules about not combining seafood with dairy. This pasta is a delicious, richly flavored dish that’s perfect for any weeknight dinner or special occasion.
All sorts of beloved dishes today marry seafood and dairy. After all, who doesn’t love New England clam chowder, party-favorite baked crab dip, or classic tuna melt sandwiches? Lobster Newburg has been around since the 1800s, and a myriad of chain restaurants have at least one creamy seafood pasta dish on the menu (shrimp alfredo fettuccine, anyone?).
Seafood lasagna is right there on our list of beloved dishes with seafood and cheese. This recipe contains a few steps, as does any baked lasagna, but once you have an assembly line of ingredients ready, it’s a cinch to put the layers together and get dinner into the oven.
Ingredients for Seafood Lasagna
- Shrimp: Fresh or frozen shrimp is fine to use; if using frozen, thaw it first. Here’s a great primer on choosing the right types of shrimp for any recipe, along with our guide for how to clean shrimp. If you buy frozen shrimp, you can use up the rest of your bag with our shrimp recipes.
- Scallops: Bay scallops are the little, bitty, bite-sized scallops caught in the colder waters off the East Coast. They’re sweet, tender, and easy to cook alongside other shellfish. The larger, more widely-available sea scallops are sourced from waters all over the world. If you can’t find bay scallops, one pound of sea scallops cut into smaller pieces will suffice. Again, fresh or frozen works, but if frozen, thaw the scallops first.
- Crabmeat: Our seafood lasagna recipe calls for imitation crabmeat, but it would be delightful with fresh or frozen real crab. You’ll often see cans of blue crabmeat at grocery stores. That’s a great substitute for imitation crab (just make sure to clean out any shells or cartilage).
- Chicken broth: Cooking the shellfish in broth helps create a flavorful base for the sauce, a building block for the lasagna. If you don’t have chicken broth, vegetable broth is fine to use. You can also just use water.
- Clam juice: Clam juice brings out the savory, briny flavor of the seafood without making the dish overly fishy. You’ll find it in the soup aisle at the grocery store, near the seafood stock. It’s fine to omit if you don’t have any on hand; just replace the same volume of clam juice with more seafood stock, chicken broth or water.
- Dairy: You’ll use both milk and cream for the white sauce in this lasagna. Use 2% or whole milk for the recipe; skim will be too thin. Half-and-half would work, as well. Use the same amount as the milk and cream combined.
- Cheese: Unlike red-sauce lasagna, this isn’t a heavy, gooey, cheesy dish. Instead, we use nutty Parmesan cheese, which is added to the white sauce and sprinkled on top for browning.
Step 1: Cook the seafood
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion, and cook until tender. Stir in the broth and clam juice, and bring to a boil. Add scallops, shrimp and crab, plus 1/8 teaspoon of white pepper, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the shrimp turn pink and the scallops are opaque and firm, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the seafood, reserving the cooking liquid. Set the seafood mixture aside.
Editor’s Tip: To know when shrimp are cooked, look at the color (should be pink) and shape (should be a nice C shape). If you’re using real crab instead of imitation crabmeat, don’t cook in the broth. Add it to the seafood mixture later.
Step 2: Make the white sauce
In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter, then stir in the flour until smooth. Combine the milk and reserved cooking liquid, and gradually add to the saucepan, whisking until fully combined. Add salt and remaining pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat, and stir in the cream and 1/4 cup cheese. Stir 3/4 cup of the white sauce into the seafood mixture, reserving the rest for layering.
Step 4: Build the seafood lasagna
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Gather all of your components in front of you: the white sauce, noodles, and seafood mixture. To build the lasagna, spread 1/2 cup of the white sauce in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Top with three noodles, then spread half of the seafood mixture on top and 1-1/4 cups of the white sauce. Repeat layers once. Top with the remaining noodles, sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Editor’s Tip: For ease, use no-bake lasagna noodles in place of cooked and drained lasagna noodles.
Step 5: Bake the lasagna
Bake the lasagna, uncovered, until it turns a nice golden brown on top, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the lasagna stand for at least 15 minutes before cutting. If desired, top with additional chopped green onions and shredded Parmesan cheese.
Editor’s Tip: It’s important to let any baked lasagna or pasta dish rest before serving so it has time to come together. Otherwise you’ll end up with a liquid, oozy mess.
- Use different seafood: Try all shrimp, all scallop or all crabmeat in this recipe. Or try using salmon in place of some of the shellfish called for (other fish might be too strong of a flavor for the delicate white sauce). If you use salmon, cook it first, and flake it into the seafood mixture.
- Add vegetables: Fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) spinach makes a nice addition to this lasagna. Mushrooms or artichokes also work. If using mushrooms, cook them first to get rid of excess moisture. Canned or jarred artichokes should be drained. Add these to the seafood mixture or as an additional lasagna layer.
- Spice it up: For a little oomph, add a pinch or two of cayenne, smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning to the white sauce.
- Try more or different cheeses: Classic red-sauce lasagna recipes use ricotta and mozzarella, so if you want to make this a real cheesy beast, add either or both.
How to Store Seafood Lasagna
Store leftover seafood lasagna covered (or in an airtight container) in the refrigerator for three to four days. It’s also a great dish to make ahead of time. You can build the lasagna, cover it, and store in the refrigerator until it’s time to bake. Alternatively, you can bake off the whole lasagna first, then let it cool, cover it, and store in the refrigerator.
To reheat a pan of lasagna, place in a 350° oven until warmed through. Or reheat individual slices in the microwave on high for two to three minutes.
How to Freeze Seafood Lasagna
Like all lasagna recipes, this seafood lasagna recipe freezes well, either before or after baking. You can even split this recipe into two smaller pans, bake one off, and freeze the other. A few tips on how to freeze lasagna: Cool it completely, cover tightly and label it. Seafood lasagna is good in the freezer for up to three months. To freeze an unbaked lasagna, build the layers, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and store in the freezer for up to three months.
To reheat frozen lasagna, whether already baked or not, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while your oven preheats to 375°. Remove the plastic and foil, cover with new foil, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Test if it’s heated through with a digital thermometer inserted in the center (it should read 165°). Remove the foil, and bake the lasagna for 10 more minutes or so to brown the top.
Seafood Lasagna Tips
How do I keep seafood lasagna from being too watery?
By cooking the seafood ahead of time and draining it, you’ll prevent the seafood lasagna from being too watery. Using the reserved broth as the base for the white sauce gives it more flavor. It also makes good use of that excess liquid.
What do you serve with seafood lasagna?
With seafood lasagna, serve a crisp mixed green salad, lemony green beans or roasted asparagus, garlic bread, and a dry white wine.