Chef John's Lobster Mac and Cheese


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2lobster 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
  • Directions

  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter 2 gratin dishes.


  • Step 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.

  • Step 3

    Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook and stir until a paste forms and 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.

  • Step 4

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

  • Step 5

    Bring a large pot of water with reserved lobster tails 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 and discard lobster shells, drain pasta.

  • Step 6

    Stir macaroni into cheese sauce with thyme leaves. Divide macaroni mixture between the 2 prepared gratin dishes. Top macaroni with chopped lobster meat, poking meat down into macaroni mixture with a fork.

  • Step 7

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

  • Step 8

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

  • 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.

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