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Chef John's Lobster Thermidor

Rated as 4.64 out of 5 Stars

"I used a nice light sauce on this iconic special occasion dish--lobster thermidor--rather than the thick, cheesy sauce popular in the '80s. Lobster is sweet and rich tasting on its own, so the lighter sauce makes so much sense. And what's even better, you can prep these ahead of time and just pop them in the oven when your guests arrive!"
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1 h servings 590
Original recipe yields 2 servings


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  1. Cut bottom shell of lobster tails using kitchen shears along each side where it meets the top shell; do not remove the shell at this point.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place lobster tails cut side down in the butter. Cook, covered, about 3 minutes. Turn lobster tails over (they are curved so will lean to 1 side); cover and cook 1 minute. Lean them to the other side; cover and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Remove from heat. Transfer lobster tails to a bowl. Remove any shell pieces from the skillet.
  4. Place 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet over medium heat; add shallots and pinch of salt. Cook and stir until pan starts to deglaze and shallots soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook stir until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add flour; stir until mushrooms are coated and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in cognac; use a kitchen torch to flame cognac to burn off alcohol. This will take just a few seconds. Add milk; cook and stir until pan is completely deglazed and milk begins to thicken and turn bubbly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in creme fraiche. Let cool.
  5. Remove lobster meat from the shell, leaving top shell intact. Remove any bits of bottom shell from the meat.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking pan with crinkled up foil. Make 4 channel-like indentations in the foil to hold and stabilize the lobster tails as they bake.
  7. Slice lobster meat down the middle and check for and remove any dark veins. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer meat to a mixing bowl. Add cooled sauce, tarragon, pinch of salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir gently until well blended.
  8. Divide mixture among the lobster tail shells; place in prepared foil-lined pan. Sprinkle each lobster tail with about 1/2 teaspoon bread crumbs and 1/2 teaspoon grated cheese. Drizzle melted butter on the stuffed shells.
  9. Bake in preheated oven until nicely browned and heated through, about 10 minutes. If you like, you can turn on the broiler and broil 1 minute until tops are golden and crispy.


  • Chef's Note:
  • This recipe makes 2 main dish or 4 appetizer-size portions.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 590 calories; 35.3 13.8 41.4 220 1008 Full nutrition

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  1. 47 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

Thank You Chef John Armand Mitzewich for this, and all the delicious recipes You have shared with us. With Your clear and easy to follow instructions, You have helped so many of us to experience...

Most helpful critical review

tasted pretty good.

Most helpful
Most positive
Least positive

Thank You Chef John Armand Mitzewich for this, and all the delicious recipes You have shared with us. With Your clear and easy to follow instructions, You have helped so many of us to experience...

This recipe was fabulous.

Chef John you did it again. Great recipe. Easy prep. Impressive presentation. Tasted great. Lots of compliments. I docked it one star because I was so tempted to eat the tails after the first ...

Oh. My. God. I never liked Lobster Thermidor because of the horrible heavy sauce. Chef John fixed it. Thank you so very much for this recipe. My 23rd wedding anniversary was memorable, in part ...

My husband loved it!

Excellent. Made exactly as directed but scaled everything by 50%.

It was a treat, living in Massachusetts makes it affordable

We thought these were good. The tarragon was just a little overwhelming, so next time (and there will be a next time) I will cut that in half.

one unbelievable recipe! There are no words for the flavor. made this with a side dish of penne al la vodka with shrimp.