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Everyone deserves an indulgence every now and again and for us, it’s lobster truffle mac and cheese. This grownup recipe for every kid’s comfort food starts with aromatic shallots and thyme, a decadent cheese sauce made with Gruyere and English Cheddar, and delicious lobster tail meat. The dish is then topped with crunchy breadcrumbs made with Parmigiano Reggiano. It is perfect for the Holidays, Valentine’s, or a romantic date night.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
With the exception of truffle oil and lobster, most of these ingredients are easy finds at your local grocery store.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Lobster Tail: Having a sweet but firm and chewy taste, the lobster tail is the star of this dish. Most grocers will carry lobster tails near the seafood counter and are frozen (or “previously frozen”). For this dish, you will need 4-5 lobster tails depending on the size which can get a little pricey so we have substituted langostino that we get frozen from Trader Joe’s.
- Short Pasta: Look for a short pasta that has some “nooks and crannies” to get as much cheese sauce on the pasta as possible. Good options include classic elbow macaroni, penne, ziti, cavatappi, or our personal favorite fusilli.
- Gruyere and English Cheddar Cheese: We use a combo of Gruyere and English Cheddar for our cheese sauce as they both have distinctly different tastes and melting points. We picked a cheddar that was salty but sweet to balance the creamy, nutty flavor of Gruyere. There are lots of cheese substitutions that you can use instead like Emmentaler, Fontina, or Havarti. The key to getting the best cheese sauce is to use freshly shredded cheese since store-bought shredded cheese contains additives such as potato starch to keep it from clumping, preventing the cheese from melting smoothly.
- Truffle Oil: There are two varieties of truffle oil – black and white – and both have an earthy, sweet flavor, which can be quite intense so use caution when adding it to any dish. We used black truffle oil since this is what our local grocery store carries. This dish is delicious with or without this ingredient, so if you can’t find it or it’s too expensive, feel free to leave it out.
How to Prepare Lobster Tail for Pasta?
Most recipes call for cooked lobster meat but ours does not since it will be cooked when stirred into the hot cheese sauce and when everything is baked. To prepare the lobster, start by removing the meat from its shell using a sharp pair of kitchen shears and cutting down the center of both sides of its exoskeleton. Carefully pry the meat from its shell and then using a sharp knife remove the lobster’s digestive tract. Chop the tail into ½-inch chunks. The shell can be discarded or saved for delicious seafood stock.
How to Make Lobster Truffle Mac and Cheese
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Lobster tails can get a little pricey so you can substitute it with langostino, a small relative of the lobster, that we get frozen from Trader Joe’s.
1. Cook the Pasta: Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a 4-quart saucepan boil water over medium-high heat. Add a pinch or two of salt and add pasta once the water begins to boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, to al dente. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
2. Make the Roux: While the pasta is cooking melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté shallots and thyme for 3 to 5 minutes or until the shallots are tender. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, not allowing it to brown or burn. Slowly whisk in milk and bring the mixture to a boil while continuing to whisk. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the milk and flour mixture to thicken for approximately 6 to 7 minutes.
3. Make the Cheese Sauce: Once the mixture has thickened, stir in the heavy cream, mustard, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce back to a boil and remove the pan from the heat. Slowly stir in Gruyère and cheddar cheese until it has all melted.
4. Bake the Mac and Cheese: Stir in the lobster and truffle oil to the cheese sauce then slowly add the pasta and a ¼ cup of the pasta water at a time. The pasta should be stirred until it is well-coated then transferred to a greased casserole dish. In a small bowl, toss together panko, Parmigiano Reggiano, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
5. Serve: Allow mac and cheese to rest for 5 minutes, then top with chopped chives, parsley, or scallions, and serve.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: Make the lobster mac and cheese through step 6 in the recipe instructions below then cover and refrigerate. It can be made up to 2 days in advance. When you are ready to bake, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Prepare the panko and Parmigiano Reggiano topping and add it to the top of the mac and cheese just before baking.
How to Store: Store leftovers for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. In a freezer-safe container, it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat: Allow frozen mac and cheese to thaw in the refrigerator then transfer it to an oven-safe dish. Cover with foil and reheat at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until heated. To reheat in a microwave transfer to a microwave-safe dish, cover, and heat in one-minute increments until thoroughly heated. Stir in a splash or two of milk and stir to get the cheese sauce creamy and to avoid dried-out pasta.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Use the truffle oil sparingly as it can have a powerful taste.
- Cut lobster into ½-inch chunks. The lobster will get lost in the cheese sauce if the pieces are too small.
- Use freshly grated cheese. Store-bought shredded cheese contains additives such as potato starch to keep the cheese from clumping, preventing the cheese from completely melting.
- Cooked the pasta al dente as it will continue to cook in the oven.
- Make this into single servings by using 6-ounce size ramekins.
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Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these other delicious pasta recipes:
Lobster Truffle Mac and Cheese
- 1 Medium Saucepan (2.5 Quarts)
- 1 Large Skillet
- 1 Baking or Casserole Dish
- 1 Small Bowl
- 12 ounces short pasta
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 cup English cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 ounces lobster meat, chopped
- 1 tablespoon black truffle oil
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, parsley, or scallions finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté shallots and thyme for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes but not allowing the flour to burn.
- Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 7 minutes or until thickened slightly.
- Stir in cream, mustard, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and bring the sauce back to a boil. Remove sauce from heat and stir in Gruyère and cheddar cheese until melted.
- Stir in lobster and truffle oil then slowly add in the pasta and pasta water ¼ cup at a time. Transfer to a greased casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, toss together panko, Parmigiano Reggiano, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter; sprinkle over pasta.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- Allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Top with chopped chives, parsley, or scallions, and serve.