Lobster Mac and Cheese
Lobster mac and cheese is true indulgence but it doesn’t have to be hard to make. We love this version with tender, more delicate Langostino lobster tails, a true homemade cream sauce, and just the right cheeses. No eggs, no Velveeta or nonsense mystery ingredients. Make this one part of your special occasion menu and you’ll be talking about it for years.Jump to Recipe
Macaroni and cheese is one dish you can warp a thousand different ways. Make it a one pot wonder with the addition of cooked chicken, shrimp or ground beef and some vegetables and dinner is deliciously done.
But have you had your mac and cheese dressed up with lobster? You haven’t lived until you do.
I tested this recipe for my Mac and Cheese Cookbook that launched a few years back and with all the versions I went through, this one was the one that made me stop and savor each bite. It was the one my assistant and I talked about for weeks after we made it.
What you’ll need for this creamy lobster mac and cheese
This list may be a bit longer than some other recipes out there but when it’s time for a treat or special occasion meal, it’s not the time for shortcuts.
- flour (gluten free works)
- milk (2% or whole, heavy cream is too rich)
- red or white wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Old bay seasoning (this one is a must!)
- Langostino lobster tails or pre-cooked diced lobster meat
- nutmeg (optional)
- parmesan cheese
- Swiss cheese
The top 5 tips you need to know before cooking lobster mac and cheese
- Keep the heat on medium to medium low and stir constantly when the sauce is thickening. If you walk away the sauce can split and look grainy. It will taste fine, it’s just not going to be creamy and smooth.
- Never use pre shredded cheese. The anti caking agents cause it to clump and get gluey.
- If you feel the recipe is bland (gasp!) adjust the seasonings before you bake or broil. Please taste your sauce before baking or broiling it.
- Use any pre cooked lobster, langostino lobster tails, or cook lobster from scratch.
- Baking this dish is optional. A quick broil makes it really toasty on top and super creamy inside.
How to make your lobster macaroni and cheese amazing and creamy
Add flour to melted butter. Gluten free flour is great here. Stir to combine and cook one minute until no dry pockets of flour remain and the raw flour has been cooked out.
Add milk and seasonings and cook over medium/medium low heat until the sauce thickens and will coat the back of a spoon. About 5 or 6 minutes. Make sure you don’t walk away from your sauce here. Stir constantly so the sauce doesn’t split.
Add the cheeses and parsley and stir melt them. You can just turn the heat off here and let the cheese melt slowly. Make sure you aren’t using pre shredded cheese so your sauce doesn’t get gluey.
Drop in the lobster or langostino lobster. It’s already cooked so your goal here is just to heat everything through. Stir in the pasta–it will be really creamy and cheesy! Taste your mac and cheese for seasoning and add any extra salt and vinegar if you feel it needs a flavor punch.
Mix melted butter and bread crumbs together and sprinkle over the top if you’re using them. I prefer fresh ones, but you can use dried if that’s what you prefer. Panko might work here but they are going to be pretty crunchy after they bake. That’s an option though.
Should you bake or not?
I’ve done this one both ways with great success. Lately I’ve just been broiling it to keep the sauce super creamy (plus it’s faster!). Some people say that baking it dries it out so I’d recommend keeping the oven time down to just 15 minutes or so so the edges just start to bubble.
Baking already cooked lobster should also be done carefully so it doesn’t come out rubbery and tough.
Troubleshooting tips before you start (Don’t skip this)
There’s too much sauce/not enough pasta
Sometimes people think the sauce to pasta ratio is off in this recipe. It’s not. I’ve made it more than 100 times with different fillings. If you’re using huge pasta–like bow ties or cavatappi, use 2 cups of pasta…maybe 2 1/2.
Also remember to measure your pasta dry and then cook it. Not the other way around.
The sauce is lumpy or grainy
The sauce overheated and split. It won’t effect the flavor at all, but it just doesn’t look great. To prevent this, keep your heat down to medium/medium low, stir the whole time the sauce is thickening and use a pot or pan that has a heavy bottom for even heat distribution.
Using a cheap Walmart Farberware skillet is going to ruin you for sure. Just turn the heat down even more if that’s what you have.
The sauce is bland
Remember when our mouths are accustomed to boxed mac and cheese that it’s full of synthetic flavor enhancers your brain comes to expect. It can feel like a let down to your brain when it doesn’t get that chemical hit.
Work around this by making sure you properly season your mac and cheese. You have to taste it as you go. If you think it needs something try a little salt and a dash more vinegar. If you’re really up for it, you can try a stronger cheese like Gruyere but cheddar doesn’t really go well with seafood so avoid that. If you’d like more cheese options, check out my 18 Secrets to the creamiest mac and cheese.
The sauce is gluey and thick (or…too thin)
If it’s gluey and super thick, pre shredded cheese is usually the culprit. It’s coated in cellulose and ruins cheese sauces. Always grate your own cheese or stop by the deli and get a chunk or some sliced cheese off a block.
If your cheese sauce is too thin, you need to cook it longer. Keep stirring and simmering until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Gluten free and slightly dairy free adaptations
Gluten free flour like King Arthur works great here. Just swap it in for the regular flour and proceed as instructed. Use any gluten or grain free pasta you prefer. I like Jovial or Barilla because it holds its shape well.
Dairy free folks have had great success making this recipe with almond milk and whatever cheese or cheese substitute they like. No one has ever told me specifically what brand cheese they’ve used.
What to serve with homemade mac and cheese with lobster
Keep it light and simple. You’ve got a pretty rich dish here so let’s not give anyone a gallbladder attack. Try:
Lobster Mac and Cheese
- 1 1/2 rounded cups elbow macaroni or any short pasta, measured while dry
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour gluten free flour works
- 2 cups milk whole or 2%
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated from a block, not pre shredded
- 1 cup Swiss cheese grated from a block, not pre shredded
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning *very important
- 12 ounces cooked lobster meat I used langostino tails; 12 ounces is about 1 1/2 rounded cups
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar white wine vinegar works too
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg optional
For the breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs See instructions below
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Preheat the oven to 400 if you are baking your mac and cheese. If you're just broiling the top, you can skip this step.
- If using breadcrumbs, pulse 2 or 3 slices of fresh bread in the food processor until crumbs form. Add melted butter and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot (about 3 quarts) of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and set a timer for two minutes less than the box suggests. If it gives a range, use the shortest time.
- Once the pasta is in the pot, start the sauce:In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir to cook out the raw flour flavor–about 1 minute.
- Add the milk and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium low.
- Cook until the sauce simmers, stirring constantly, and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–about 5-6 minutes. Don't walk away from the sauce or it might split!
- Turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese melts then add the Old Bay, lobster, parsley, vinegar, and nutmeg. Add the pasta and stir to combine.
- Transfer to a greased 8×8 baking dish or bake it in your skillet if it’s oven safe. Top with breadcrumbs and bake 15-20 minutes on the center rack until bubbling on the edges and the cheese is brown in spots.
- Broil only option: If you want to broil the top, preheat the broiler and broil–about 5 inches from the element or flame–5 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it so you don't burn it!
I’ve never seen Old Bay or vinegar used in mac and cheese before. Is it intended to compliment the lobster?
Well part is, and part isn’t in this case Chris. I always try to keep in mind a balance of salt and fat when they are together in a dish. For mac and cheese the high amounts of milk, cheese and butter means it often needs something to lift the heaviness of it and provide a more balanced flavor. The vinegar does that. You won’t notice it when you eat the final dish, but you may notice that the flavor feels a bit brighter overall. I’d recommend making your cheese sauce first without it, then adding it and see how it improves the balance.
Then for the Old Bay, yes, I did that just for a new flavor profile that compliments the seafood and it works really nicely here. –Rachel