Classic Lobster Thermidor Recipe

Lobster Thermidor is a traditionally French recipe, New England has created its own classic lobster thermidor recipe using fresh local live lobster. Recipe for Lobster Thermidor is a go-to meal for a special occasion or romantic dinner. Here is our New England version of this luxurious lobster dish.

Classic Lobster Thermidor Recipe
Classic Lobster Thermidor made with fresh lobsters courtesy of Chris Campbell

My great love of Maine and all that it has to offer has taught me many lessons. However, there is one in particular that I am especially grateful for, and that is how to cook Maine lobster.

I was quite surprised to learn that once I knew how to cook lobster, there were dozens of wonderful lobster recipes that I would be able to prepare right in my own kitchen. It was not just a simple lobster roll or lobster salad that awaited me, but my new found skills would allow me to create much more elegant dishes, such as this rich classic Lobster Thermidor recipe.

What is Lobster Thermidor?

Lobster thermidor is a classic French dish created in Paris in the late 1800s. It is a gratin dish where the lobster meat is folded into a cream sauce with mushrooms and Gruyère cheese and returned to the shell to be oven browned.The traditional French recipe calls for brandi or cognac. Our recipe is made with white wine.

Variations of Lobster Thermidor

The traditional french dish is of course made with fresh lobster meat. Fresh sea scallops and even crab meat can be substituted for lobster. As mentioned above, the classic dish uses a dash of congac.

Although this dish can be served in its large baking casserole, I prefer to present it in individual, serving size casserole dishes, with a shell as garnish. Or serve Thermidore over puff pastry in individual portions.

Julia Child’s Lobster Thermidor

One of Julia Child’s most renowned lobster recipes is Lobster Thermidor. Julia Child, famously known as “The French Chef,” showcased her recipe in Season 6, Episode 14 of her cooking show. This dish returned to popularity with a blogging project turned into to a 2009 movie called Julie & Julia. Love movies about lobsters that crack you up? See our blog post with lobsters in the movies.

Blogger, Julie Powell rose to prominence through her renowned Julie/Julia Project, a year-long endeavor in which she committed herself to cooking every single recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Child’s cookbook, first published in 1961, swiftly became a timeless gem in the culinary realm. Powell set out to conquer each and every recipe, aiming to complete the entire collection within a mere year. This feat was chronicled in the film “Julie and Julia,” where Powell candidly expressed her trepidation in preparing the lobster thermidor dish according to Child’s revered recipe.

Common Mistake When Making Lobster Thermidor

This is not exacly an easy lobster recipe to prepare since it has a few steps to follow, so be patient and and do not rush.

It all comes down to the ingredients. Get the freshest, get the best lobster, and you will craft an unforgettable dish. Good quality lobster meat makes the dish. You can par boil live Maine lobster, steam lobster tails, or opt for frozen lobster meat. As with any lobster dish the key is not to overcook the meat. That’s why using poached lobster meat is a good idea.

Be careful when cooking with alcohol as it can flame up. Keep a lid handy to put out any flareups.

Can Lobster Thermidor Be Made Ahead of Time?

The maine ingredient, the lobster meat can shucked from the lobster ahead preparing the dish. The Lobster Thermidor recipe can be assembled a few hours in advance before it is baked to a golden brown.

Par boil the whole lobster first. In a stock pot plunge the lobster head first into water for 1-2 minutes and carefully remove from water. Once the lobster has cooled, remove the meat from the body and the claws, be sure to keep the body shell intact. Learn how to remove the meat from a whole lobster. Cut the par cooked lobster meat into bite size pieces and set aside for the thermidor recipe.

No access to live, whole lobsters try making with pre-frozen Maine lobster tails.

Short History of Lobster Thermidor

These is some debate over the origins as well as the ingredients of Lobster Thermidor. Some historians believe Lobster Thermidor was first introduced in 1894 by Marie’s, a popular Paris restaurant. The Lobster Thermidor recipe was created for the premiere of ‘Thermidor’, a play by Victorien Sardou. The play takes it name for one of the months of the Fresh republican calendar, known as the month of heat (July 19th- August 17th) an excellent time for lobster. A dish this rich is perfect any time of year. Another story credits the dish to Chef Tony Girod at Café de Paris, also in Paris. Others believe it was named by Napoleon when he tasted it in the month of Thermidor. 

Lobster Thermidor is said to be named by Napoleon. Thermidor was the 11th month of the calendar used during the French Revolution.

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Classic Lobster Thermidor Recipe

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You do not have a trained French chef to make this classic dish, it’s not too difficult to make. The lobster meat is removed from a whole live lobster and cooked in a creamy mushroom sauce than re-stuffed into the lobster shell and then baked. Meat from fresh cooked lobster, or cooked frozen lobster tails, either works well for this recipe.

Preparation time: 45 minutes (includes casserole baking time)


  • Total Time: 40
  • Yield: 2 1x


  • 2 cooked lobster tails, meat coarsely chopped. Save shells for use when baking.
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup light cream or half and half
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup diced leeks (white part)
  • 1/4 cup minced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (white)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (ideally freshly grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Saute mushrooms and red pepper in olive oil. Set aside.
2. Melt butter, add leeks and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in flour to create roux. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Stir in wine and then slowly add cream – stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.
4. Add lemon juice, parsley and tarragon.
5. Add cheddar, and whisk until cheese has melted. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Stir in sauteed mushrooms, red peppers and lobster.
7. Place empty lobster tail shells in a casserole dish. Fill shells with mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan and paprika.
8. Bake 10-12 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven.


Note… When the Lobster Thermidor is made according to this recipe it will run outside of the lobster shells. The shells are meant for decoration, not as a means to contain the sauce.



  • Author: Lobster Louie
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: French


  • Serving Size: 2
  • Calories: 489

Pairing Wine with Lobster Thermidor

Choose a wine that is light and crisp to compliment the rich flavors of the thermidor dish. You will want to skip big bold wines. Drink a nice chilled Champagne or sparkling wine with this classic French dish. For more great wines that go perfectly with lobster, see our pairing guide.

What to Serve with Lobster Thermidor

This is a very rich recipe. Therefore, I would keep side dishes simple, perhaps serving a green salad as an accompaniment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of Lobster Thermidor?

Lobster Thermidor originated in Paris, France, in the late 1800s. There are different theories about its exact origin, with some attributing it to a Paris restaurant named Marie’s in 1894, and others suggesting it was named by Napoleon.

Can I use different seafood in Lobster Thermidor?

Yes, variations of the dish can include fresh sea scallops or crab meat as substitutes for lobster.

What are some wine pairing suggestions for Lobster Thermidor?

A light and crisp wine, like chilled Champagne or sparkling wine, complements the rich flavors of Lobster Thermidor. Avoid heavy, bold wines.

What are suitable side dishes to serve with Lobster Thermidor?

Given the richness of the recipe, simple side dishes like a green salad are recommended.

How long does it take to prepare Lobster Thermidor?

The preparation time for Lobster Thermidor is approximately 45 minutes, including the casserole baking time.

Are there any specific notes or tips to keep in mind for this recipe?

When making Lobster Thermidor according to the recipe on, the mixture may overflow from the lobster shells. The shells are primarily for decoration and not meant to contain the sauce.


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