Chef John's Lobster Mac and Cheese


Learn how to cook lobster tail for decadent mac and cheese to take this classic dish up a notch. You can actually prep ahead and bake just before that romantic, possibly Valentine's, dinner. You probably want to take them out and let them warm up for 30 minutes before baking. By the way, only bake these until the tops are browned and the inside is just hot.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • 2 lobster tails, split in half lengthwise and deveined

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cups cold milk

  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 3 drops Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

  • 4 ounces grated sharp white Cheddar cheese

  • 1 ounce grated Gruyere cheese

  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, or more to taste

  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves


  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter two gratin dishes.

  2. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Cook lobster tails in skillet until slightly golden and about halfway cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer tails to a plate to rest. When cool enough to handle, remove lobster meat from shells and chop meat. Reserve shells.

  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook and stir until a paste forms and raw flour taste cooks off, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cold milk to flour mixture; whisk until completely incorporated. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low, and stir in paprika, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

  4. Stir Cheddar cheese and Gruyere cheese into milk mixture until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and stir Worcestershire sauce into cheese sauce.

  5. Bring a large pot of water with reserved lobster shells and a pinch of salt to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Remove lobster shells and set aside, or discard. Drain pasta.

  6. Stir macaroni into cheese sauce with thyme leaves. Divide macaroni mixture between the two prepared gratin dishes. Top macaroni with chopped lobster meat, poking meat down into the macaroni mixture with a fork.

  7. Stir bread crumbs and melted butter together in a bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and stir. Top each gratin dish with bread crumb mixture.

  8. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes.

    closeup of a lobster tail on a serving of macaroni and cheese
    Nikki Chaney

Cook's Note:

Make sure your mac and cheese mixture is wet and saucy in the pan, otherwise it might get dry when it bakes. Don't be afraid to add a splash of the pasta water to loosen things up.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

975 Calories
53g Fat
62g Carbs
63g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 2
Calories 975
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 30g 151%
Cholesterol 283mg 94%
Sodium 1767mg 77%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 22%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 63g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 915mg 70%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 913mg 19%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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