Lobster mac and cheese is a decadent, comforting dinner featuring lots of lobster meat mixed with creamy macaroni and cheese. Slightly sweet lobster meat is a perfect compliment to this super cheesy macaroni made with three types of cheese. It’s all baked together with a buttery Panko bread crumb topping.
If you love mac and cheese make sure to try my classic and easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese and Baked Mac and Cheese. When you’re feeling adventurous, dig into Cauliflower Mac and Cheese and Crab Mac and Cheese.
LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE
There are very few ways to make mac and cheese even better than it already is. Adding sweet and tender lobster meat is definitely one of those ways, and what a fantastic dish!
Mac and cheese is already so comforting with the soft pasta combined with gooey cheese sauce. It’s one of the ultimate comforting dishes that I can eat every single way (if I didn’t have to worry about calories). There is something about comfort food like this that brings everyone joy, pure joy.
That is exactly what Lobster mac and cheese is, it’s pure joy mixed with lobster meat. Whether it’s a cold winter evening or a warm summer night, this cheesy, buttery lobster dish will bring you comfort and joy with every bite.
WHAT LOBSTER MEAT CAN I USE?
Depending on where you live, there are various ways to get your hands on some lobster meat. You can use a whole lobster, lobster tails, or cooked loose lobster meat. Some stores will carry lobster meat either in their seafood department or frozen. Other stores, give you live lobsters or fresh lobster tails available at the seafood counter. You also have an option to order lobster meat but that could get a little pricey.
Lobster tails are usually pretty accessibly to most so you can always fall back on that if unable to get a whole lobster or frozen lobster meat. If all fails, you can also use canned lobster meat but note that there is quite a difference in taste and texture between fresh and canned.
HOW MUCH LOBSTER MEAT DO I NEED?
For this dish, you will need about a pound and a half of lobster meat.
Lobster tails – get about 5 depending on their size.
Whole lobster – you will need 4-5 lbs of whole lobster. That means you need to get two medium or three small lobsters.
HOW TO COOK LOBSTER
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Make sure you will be able to fit the lobsters to be completely covered with water. Season with about 2 tbsp of coarse salt and 1 tbsp of whole peppercorns. Lower the heat to medium so the water doesn’t boil over.
Submerge lobster into the water and close the lid. (Leave a crack for steam to escape.) Let lobster cook according to its weight, until it’s bright red. (You will most likely find the cooking time right on the box but if not, it takes about 10 minutes per pound to cook but don’t exceed 25 minutes for 3-5 lb lobsters.)
1 to 1 1/4 lb. lobster – cook for 10-12 minutes
1 1/2 to 2 lb. lobster – cook for 15-18 minutes
2 1/2 to 5 lb. lobster – cook for 20-25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450° and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter and mix it with some salt, squeeze of lemon juice, and 2 pressed garlic cloves.
Butterfly the lobster shell: Pick up the lobster tail and cut the hard, outer shell down the middle all the way down to where the shell meets the tail. To pull the shell apart, you will need to use some muscle and crack the softer underside with your hands. But be careful not to actually crack the shell apart in two.
As you pull the shell apart to expose the lobster meat, use your hands to gently separate the meat off the sides of the shell. Don’t pull out all the lobster meat completely, just separate it off the sides. If you see a dark vein along the lobster tail meat, which is lobster’s intestines, pull it out.
Place butterflied lobster tails on the prepared baking sheet cut-side up and brush the meat liberally with butter mixture. Bake them for 10 minutes.
CAN I MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE?
This is a great pasta dish and even if you’re gluten free, you can enjoy it. Simply use gluten free macaroni, gluten free all purpose flour, and gluten free bread crumbs for topping. I prefer the Tinkyada brand of gluten free pasta. Its texture is the least crumbly and tastes the most like regular pasta.
To use gluten free all purpose flour, simply substitute it for regular flour and mix it with melted butter to make the cheese sauce.
Choose gluten free bread crumbs that resemble Panko crumbs. They are light, crispy, and white in color.
What about lactose free?
Many people who are lactose intolerant are actually not aware that they can still have mac and cheese and eat regular cheese. Cheese that is aged 6 months and longer is naturally lactose free through the aging process. Stay away from soft cheeses like blue cheese, Brie, feta, cream cheese, and a few others that are not lactose free. Hard and aged cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, Monterrey Jack cheese, and even some aged Mozzarella are lactose free.
Many brands will put lactose content right on the label, under the nutritional information. Look for words like “contains 0g of lactose per serving.” If the wording is not there, you can look at sugar content. If sugar is 0g, that will indicate there is very low chance for lactose.
Instead of regular milk, use lactose free milk. (Tip: Fairlife brand is not as sweet as Lactaid. I recommend that one in savory dishes.) If you want to use milk substitute, oat milk is nice and creamy just make sure it’s unsweetened.
As far as butter, you can use vegan butter or butter substitute. I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter all the time and it works very well.
STORING AND REHEATING
Make sure to store leftovers in the refrigerator. You can use the same pan used for baking but make sure it’s cooled to room temperature and cover it air-tight. Properly stored, it should be good for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.
Can I make it ahead?
Yes! You can prepare the whole dish up to the step of adding topping and baking but instead of baking it, cover air-tight and refrigerate. Pull it out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you need to bake it and add the bread crumb topping. Pop it into the preheated oven and bake it.
You can also make just the lobster meat ahead of time. Cook it, pull it out of the shell, and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Make it up to 2 days ahead but no more.
Can I freeze it?
I don’t recommend freezing this dish. Cheese and cream don’t freeze well and the texture is often ruined by freezing. Lobster is way too expensive to sacrifice.
A FEW SEAFOOD RECIPES TO TRY:
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HOW TO MAKE LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE
Lobster Mac and Cheese
- 1-1 1/2 lbs cooked lobster meat*
- 1 lb corkscrew pasta
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves pressed
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk or 2%
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt adjust to taste
- 8 oz Fontina cheese block
- 8 oz sharp white cheddar cheese block
- 6 oz Monterrey Jack cheese block
- 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp minced parsley
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp butter melted
Cooking Whole Lobster:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Make sure you will be able to fit the lobsters to be completely covered with water. Season water with about 2 tbsp of coarse salt and 1 tbsp of whole peppercorns. Lower the heat to medium so the water doesn’t boil over.
- Submerge lobster into the water and close the lid. (Leave a crack for steam to escape.) Let lobster cook according to its weight, until it’s bright red. (You will most likely find the cooking time right on the box but if not, it takes about 10 minutes per pound to cook but don’t exceed 25 minutes for 3-5 lb lobsters.)**
- Take lobster out of the water and let it cool down before taking out the meat.
Take Out Lobster Meat:
- Twist off the tail. (You will see not so pleasant content of its stomach but you can simply rinse the edge of the rail off with cold water.) Twist off both claws at the sides of the body. Separate the claw from the knuckle by twisting it off.
- Using kitchen shears, cut the underside of the tail all the way down. Pull it apart and take out the tail meat. Use lobster crackers to crack the tough shell of the knuckles and claws. Carefully pull it apart and take out the claw and knuckle meat. Carefully go through the meat to make sure there is no pieces of shells leftover. Chop all lobster meat into smaller pieces.
Cooking Lobster Tails:
- Preheat the oven to 450° and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter and mix it with some salt, squeeze of lemon juice, and 2 pressed garlic cloves.
- Butterfly the lobster shell: Pick up the lobster tail and cut the hard, outer shell down the middle all the way down to where the shell meets the tail. To pull the shell apart, you will need to use some muscle and crack the softer underside with your hands. But be careful not to actually crack the shell apart in two.
- As you pull the shell apart to expose the lobster meat, use your hands to gently separate the meat off the sides of the shell. Don’t pull out lobster meat completely, just separate it off the sides. If you see a dark vein along the lobster tail meat, which is lobster’s intestines, pull it out.
- Place butterflied lobster tails on the prepared baking sheet cut-side up and brush the meat liberally with butter mixture. Bake them for 10 minutes.
- Let lobster tails cool until it can be handled and take the meat out of the shell. Chop it and set aside.
Make Mac and Cheese:
- Cook corkscrew pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. While pasta is cooking, grate all the cheeses.
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat and add pressed garlic. Let garlic simmer until fragrant and whisk in flour.
- Once it's combined and looks like paste, start slowly pouring in milk while stirring constantly but gently. Keep whisking until all incorporated.
- Stir in garlic power, ground mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Add cheeses a handful at a time while slowly stirring. Keep slowly stirring until cheeses are melted and smooth.
- Once all cheese is melted, stir in pasta until completely combined. Take the pot off heat.
- Fold in chopped lobster meat and make sure it's evenly mixed throughout.
- Preheat oven to 375°, grease a 9x13 baking dish, and spread mac and cheese in the baking dish.
- Mix Panko crumbs with parsley, salt, and garlic powder in a bowl and pour in melted but. Toss until completely incorporated and spread the topping evenly over the mac and cheese.
- Bake for about 20 minutes.