Lobster mac and cheese couldn’t be easier to make at home than with this recipe so you can say good-bye to $30 restaurant prices for lobster mac! And it’s even better than what you’ll find in Maine!
When early June rolls around each year, I start dreaming of lobster. Not quite literally, of course, but it’s a food I feel no summer in New England would be complete without.
Bright red, juicy claw meat dipped in butter. The struggle to bust the tail out of the shell without ripping your fingers to shreds.
And then that sigh with the first bite. Heaven!
It’s quite a meal and my gosh how I do love it!
Sometimes I hold off on this dreamy meal if we have a Maine vacation planned so that I can indulge at a wooden picnic table under an umbrella with the salty sea air spritzing my face. But this summer I couldn’t wait.
Until the last couple weeks of July, we had no vacation planned and I was starting to fret that I’d miss out on one of my favorite summer treats. So I made lobster mac and cheese. It’s a recipe I’ve had on my to-make list for what seems like years and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
And really, it was no more difficult to make than regular mac and cheese.
Here’s the basic shopping list you’ll need for this lobster mac and cheese recipe. Be sure to keep scrolling down to the recipe card to check out the full ingredient list!
- Dry pasta like cavatappi or elbow macaroni
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Milk – skim, whole, or reduced-fat all work great here
- Gruyere cheese
- Extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Ground nutmeg
- Cooked lobster meat – Any part of the lobster will work: tail, claw, or knuckles
1 cup panko bread crumbs
If you can’t find cooked lobster in your seafood market or grocery store and if you’re petrified of cooking a whole lobster, see if you can find frozen tails. You’ll need to thaw them in the fridge first, but steaming them only takes about 10 minutes.
That’s the most complicated thing about the whole recipe. The rest is just a basic and super easy homemade mac and cheese recipe. It’s so so easy to make!
Lobster Mac and Cheese with Lobster You Can Actually Taste
And like any great mac and cheese recipe, it’s super creamy, cheesy, and flavorful. It’s also completely chocked full of lobster. I’m not talking little bits of lobster that you can barely see or worse, barely taste.
It’s chocked full of CHUNKS of lobster meat! You know, just the way lobster mac and cheese should be!
We devoured this lobster mac and cheese for a casual Friday night dinner (a halved recipe for the two of us) and ate the leftovers for lunches for the next couple of days.
So trust me here: this is the BEST lobster mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten. EVER. It’s even better than the lobster mac I’ve eaten in Maine! And boy, that’s saying a lot!!
- 1 lb cavatappi or elbow macaroni
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk (skim, whole, or reduced-fat)
- 12 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
- 8 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ lbs cooked lobster meat, cut into ½-inch chunks (see note below)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Set aside a 13x9-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large stockpot but cut the cook time down by 3 minutes - it will finish cooking in the oven; drain pasta well and return it to the hot pot.
- Meanwhile, melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 ½ minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture (called a roux) until no lumps remain. Heat the milk, stirring frequently, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and starts to bubble in the center of the saucepan (this should take about 5-7 minutes). Once it bubbles, let it cook, stirring the bottom of the pan to prevent burning, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, add in a handful of cheese, stirring it into the milk with a rubber spatula until it is completely melted; repeat with the remaining cheese. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- While the cheese sauce cooks, melt the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Toss in the bread crumbs with the melted butter and toast them until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally at first then frequently towards the end. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- Add the lobster meat into the cheese sauce then pour the entire mixture over the hot pasta in the stockpot. Mix everything together well, making sure the pasta is well-coated with the sauce. Transfer to the baking dish(es) and place it/them to a baking sheet to avoid spillage on the bottom of the oven. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the mac and cheese.
- Bake the large dish for 45-50 minutes and the smaller dishes for 30-35 minutes, until the mac and cheese is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
If you can't find fresh lobster near you, frozen uncooked tails work great! Just thaw them overnight in the fridge and then steam them in a few inches of water for about 12 minutes until they are bright red.
adapted from Ina Garten
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