Lobster mac and cheese is not just one of the ultimate, decadent comfort foods, it’s perfect for a family meal, a cozy date night or special celebration!
Since we’ve been eating and cooking so many meals at home these last few months, my husband offered to cook one night a week to give me an evening off. One of the first dishes he tackled was homemade lobster ravioli (overachiever). We might not have eaten until 9 that night, but he did a great job!
I’m not one to go in for a full lobster with drawn butter and all that. I much prefer it paired with a sweet, buttery roll or pasta. Throw some gooey, melty cheese into that mix and I’m in heaven!
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Ingredients for Lobster Mac and Cheese
Lobster — I recommend lobster tail or pulled meat as they will add little to no effort to this recipe. Because lobster begins to breakdown very soon after meeting its maker, removed tails and meat are frozen almost immediately. When purchasing tails or pulled meat at the grocery or fish market, make sure it’s frozen. If you want to go the extra mile and cook a whole lobster, you’ll want to purchase a live one.
Cheese — Go for at least two different types of cheese to strike a balance between meltability and flavor. Some good choices are sharp cheddar, gruyere, fontina, brie (rind removed), cream cheese, gouda, goat cheese and parmesan. I went with two good melters: gruyere for its nutty flavor, and a slightly sharp muenster. Also, break out the box grater — freshly grated cheese off the block is best. Pre-shredded cheeses often come with added ingredients.
Pasta — You can’t go wrong with classic elbow macaroni, but don’t hesitate to choose any small pasta with a fun shape and nooks + crannies for the cheese sauce to grab on to. I went with cavatappi, elbow’s longer, curly cousin.
Broiling Lobster Tails
Don’t let the hard shell fool you — lobster tails are pretty easy to deal with. Chances are your tails came with the top shell already split. Place the tail on a cutting board and insert a large knife where it’s split. Press down to crack the bottom shell. You don’t need to cut all the way through, you just need to make it pliable enough to splay open and expose the meat, essentially butterflying the tail.
Place the tails on a sheet pan, drizzle with melted butter and season with salt. Broil the tails in the upper third of your oven (NOT right under the broiler) for 4 to 5 minutes. Once cooled, you should be able to lift the meat out of the tail in large sections. Using your thumb, lift the section closest to the body end and peel it back toward the tail end. Chop or tear the lobster meat into bite size pieces and set it aside.
The remainder of this recipe is really easy to pull together starting with a classic béchamel (combination of butter, flour and milk). The addition of herbs, spices and cheeses round out the sauce. Assemble the casserole, top with breadcrumbs and pop it in the oven!
Variations for Lobster Mac and Cheese
Recipes are written to be changed, so experiment with different ingredients to make it your own or to bring other flavors to the party.
Instead of cayenne, try nutmeg, paprika, chili powder or Old Bay. Swap chives for thyme, tarragon, or chervil. Try shrimp or crab instead of lobster.
Weather permitting, grill your lobster tails instead of broiling them. Try some yummy add-ins like crumbled bacon or diced pancetta, and diced jalapeño, chili crisp or sriracha — but not too much if you want the lobster to be the star of the show.
This dish is best when cooked and served immediately. Leftovers are okay the next day — warm it up in the microwave in 30 second bursts so you don’t overdo the lobster or separate the sauce (which won’t be as creamy the next day anyway).
If you’re making this as a main dish for four or as a side dish for more, cut the recipe in half to avoid leftovers and waste.
This Lobster Mac and Cheese will be a crowd pleaser anytime! I’ve got one more recipe up my sleeve for our Feast of the Seven Fishes. If you’re a fan of scallops, check back soon!
Lobster Mac + Cheese
- 4 lobster tails (4 to 5 oz each) or 1¾ cups cooked lobster meat
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 1 lb cavatappi pasta
- 3 tbsp flour
- 4 cups 2% milk warmed, using the stove or microwave
- 1-2 tbsp brandy optional
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- 5 cups shredded cheese any good melting cheeses
- 2 tbsp chives minced, plus extra for garnish
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- dash paprika
Prepare the lobster (skip this step if you purchased precooked lobster meat)
- Move one of your oven racks to the upper third of the oven and preheat the broiler. With a large, sharp knife, crack each lobster tail down the center and split it open to reveal the meat. (No need to cut it completely in half.)
- Place the tails on a sheet pan with the meat facing up. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush or drizzle it over each, then sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Broil the tails for 5 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- Once cool enough to handle, slide your thumb under a section of meat (at the cut end of the tail) and gently pull the meat away from the shell in one large piece. Repeat with the remaining tails.
- Chop or tear the lobster meat into bite size pieces. Set aside for later.
Prepare the mac + cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Return the rack to the center of the oven. Lightly mist a casserole (approx. 9"x13") with cooking spray.
- Fill a large pot with salted water and set it to boil over high heat.
- In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Next, whisk in warm milk, brandy, cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Watch that your pot does not boil over and reduce the heat if it creeps toward the top. It will thicken only slightly.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta according to the package directions — probably about 9 minutes for al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Reduce the burner under your sauce to low. Add the shredded cheese and chives. Stir for about 1 minute until the cheese has completely melted. The cheese will thicken the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
- Add the lobster meat and cheese sauce to the pasta pot and stir to combine. Transfer the pasta to the casserole.
- Place the panko in a small bowl and add a dash or two of paprika. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, add it to the breadcrumbs and give it a stir to evenly distribute. Sprinkle this all over the top of the mac + cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.
- Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.