How to Make Lobster Mac and Cheese: The King of Comfort Foods

Lobster mac n’ cheese is one of New England’s most famed comfort foods. This lobster, cheese and pasta combination has grown in popularity—almost as much as the beloved lobster roll sandwich. You’ll find lobster mac at varied establishments, from roadside seafood stands, steakhouses, to French bistros. It can be a hearty main course or a decadent side dish. How to make lobster mac and cheese at home has a lot to do with personal preference, so feel free to experiment with your favorite pasta and cheeses, but remember… never, never skimp on the lobster!

How to Make Lobster Mac and Cheese

To make your own signature lobster mac and cheese recipe we’ll present a few options beginning with the lobster meat, type of pasta, kinds of cheese, and methods of cooking.

Lobster Mac N’ Cheese Cooking Methods

Two basic cooking methods to make lobster mac and cheese include stove top and oven baked. The baked version uses a bread crumb topping to create a crunchy, golden crust. Macaroni and cheese can be assembled a day ahead of time and baked before serving.

The Best Lobster Meat for Lobster Mac N’ Cheese

The key to any good lobster mac and cheese recipe is to start with great lobster meat and plenty of it! Remember our rule: never skimp on the lobster! Who does not like big chunks of fresh lobster in a bowl of pasta and cheese? For super tender lobster meat you’ll want to parboil or blanch your lobsters. It’s simple, just follow the directions for boiling live lobster, and cook for only about 2-3 minutes. If you are baking your mac and cheese, the lobster will continue to cook and infuse wonderful flavors into the dish. Just make sure you do overcook your lobster as it will turn rubbery and tough. It’s easiest to remove the meat while the lobsters are still warm (not hot).

If you do not have access to fresh live lobsters, a convenient alternative is to buy cooked frozen lobster meat.

What’s the Best Pasta for Lobster Macaroni and Cheese?

Good lobster deserves good pasta. Choose a pasta with some texture and grooves to hold the cheese sauce. Skinny or thin pasta like fettuccine or linguine will not work to hold the cheese sauce. Below is our list of favorite pastas with fun shapes and crevices to make your lobster macaroni and cheese not only appetizing, but fun to eat!

Lobster macaroni and cheese made with classic elbow pasta and cooked on a cast iron pan. Photo and dish by Jack Arnold.

Pro-Tip: Aim to undercook your pasta by 2-3 minutes before tossing with the cheese sauce. You never want to end up with mushy pasta that falls apart. Here’s some suggestions for what kind of pasta to use in your lobster mac n’ cheese dish.

Pasta Glossary for Lobster Mac N’ Cheese

Cavatappi: The name translates from Italian to “corkscrew”, which the pasta resembles. It is short with ridged sides to capture hold a cheesy sauce.

Elbow Macaroni: This namesake pasta, bent like an elbow, is used to make a classic mac n’ cheese dish.

Gemeli: The name means “twins” in Italian. This short pasta is made of two strands twisted into a spiral, or corkscrew shape.

Penne: A medium size ridged cylinder shaped pasta made with egg with the end cut at an angle.

Farfalle:  It is also known as bow-tie pasta. It is a good choice since bows hold the cheese well.

Orecchiette:  Not the most well known pasta.  Translates as “little ears,” and also resembles little flying saucer. The little bowl shapes hold the cheese and sauce nicely.

Rigatoni: About the size of Penne pasta, but is tightly spiraled shaped.

Rottini: Larger and wider than Penne pasta, plus the ends are not cut at a diagonal.

What Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

According to Cheese.com, there are 1831 varieties of cheese! It can sure be a bit overwhelming to pick the best cheese for your lobster mac and cheese. What cheese combination goes best with lobster mac and cheese is the million shell question! Since lobster has a sweet, briny taste you do not want to overpower it with a super strong cheese. If you want a little bite, mix just a 1/4 amount of a strong cheese to milder cheeses to cut down on its intense flavor.  There’s also nothing wrong with going with one cheese. Keep it simple. Remember your making a pasta dish with the “Maine” ingredient— Lobster! Below are different kind of cheeses options. Keep in mind they are all just suggestions.

Pro-Tip: Buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. The pre-shredded cheese, although convenient, can be a mix of fillers and artificial junk. Yuck. Block is the better cheese and melts better than any processed, bagged cheese.

Cheese Glossary for Lobster Mac and Cheese

Asiago: An Italian cheese from the Veneto region that has a semi-soft, mild flavor. It is similar to Parmesan, but has a softer nuttier flavor.  When aged Asiago cheese has has a sharper flavor when aged.

Brie: A soft mild creamy cow’s milk cheese.

Cheddar: A cow’s milk  cheese with a buttery and sharp flavor. It can be white to a yellow color.

Colby: This is a mild cheese similar to cheddar but a little softer.

Comté: An unpasteurized cheese with a nutty flavor.

Fontina: A semi soft cheese.

Gouda: This cheese can be young or aged. A young Gouda cheese is mild and creamy, but aged gouda can be nutty with a sweet finish.

Gruyere: This is an aged semi-hard cow’s-milk cheese. The flavor depends on age, but generally it has a salty sweet flavor.

Havarti: A cream colored cheese with sweet notes.

Manchego: This is an aged Spanish cheese that has a similar taste to Monterrey Jack cheese.

Mascarpone: Hailing from Italy’s Lombardy region this is a super buttery cream cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk.

Mozzarella: A mild cheese that tastes of fresh milk.

Muenster: A very mild semi-soft cow’s milk cheese.

Parmesan-Reggiano: Pale yellow in color and best used grated.  It has a salty, savory taste.

Swiss: A mild, sweet nut-like cheese with a pale yellow color with holes.

Maine Lobster Mac n’ Cheese Recipe

Here’s our recipe for lobster mac and cheese. Again, feel free to experiment and make substitutions. And if your feeling crabby you can even substitute cooked lump crab meat for the lobster.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. of blanched or raw lobster meat (substitute frozen lobster meat)
  • 5 cups of cooked Cavatappi  Pasta
  • 2 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1 cup Fontina Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Mascarpone Cheese
  • 3 tbsp. brandy
  • 1 whole shallot finely chopped
  • 2 whole cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 whole dry bay leaf
  • fresh ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • to taste sea salt
  • to taste black pepper

Optional Crust Toppings:

  • Crushed croutons, or make your own from leftover bread.
  • Panko crumbs for a crunchy topping.
  • Italian Bread crumbs is another option
  • Crush up Ritz Crackers for an extra buttery topping.

Option for Bacon Lovers:

  • Crumble cooked bacon and mix in with your mac and cheese.

Tools Needed:

Pasta pot, Tongs, Chefs knife, Cutting board, Colander, Measuring cup, Whisk, Fine Strainer, Sauce Pan, Box grater.

Instructions for How to Make Lobster Mac and Cheese

Makes about 6-8 portions

  1. Bring water to a boil and add salt. Cook pasta a 2-3 minutes less than what the directions state (before al dente). Use tongs to agitate the pasta a couple times to prevent sticking.
  2. Pour pasta into colander and shock with cold water until cool. Drain and set aside.
  3. Bring milk, bay leaf and garlic to a gentle simmer
  4. Remove from pan and allow flavors to infuse for 15 minutes.
  5. Melt butter in a saucepan and add shallots. Saute until shallots are translucent has thickened.
  6. Incorporate flour with a whisk. Cook at low temperature until flour is golden in color. Add brandy.
  7. Slowly whisk milk into flour mixture until fully incorporated.
  8. Cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat, whisking often, until sauce has thickened
  9. Add cayenne and black pepper (Note: wait until the end to add salt, lobster will add lots of flavor).
  10. Add lobster and cook in sauce until lobster is close to desired texture.
  11. Finally add cheese and then add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.

Baked Option:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Butter an oven safe baking dish or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Pour mac n’ cheese into dish and top with your favorite crumb topping. (At this time you can cover your dish and refrigerate for 1-2 days and bake later.)
  4. Add your mac n’ cheese to a buttered baking dish. Bake uncovered at 375 for about 2o minutes or until bubbly and the top is toasted.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes before digging in!

Buon appetito!!

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