Nowadays with two kids, monthly date nights are an absolute necessity for us.  If for nothing else than that we remember what it is like to eat a meal without a guaranteed interruption each time we attempt to say more than two words to each other.  Not getting up to refill a milk cup every five minutes is an added bonus.  Recently we had a bummer date night.  The conversation was great, the weather was lovely, but the meal was a disappointment.  The food itself was actually decent but the service was incredibly slow, the portion sizes were off, and it was definitely overpriced.  Oh, and the herbal-infused cocktail I ordered tasted like I was eating an actual basil plant.

Enjoying a bit of time to ourselves was the silver lining to be sure, but it still frustrated me to waste a precious date night on an undeserving place when there are so many more restaurants we are excited to try.  In fact, I was so bothered by it that the following evening I decided to make this lobster mac and cheese as a special meal.  A sort of do-over of what should have been a fabulous meal the night before.

As you might expect from a rich creamy mac and cheese with chunks of tender lobster that happens to pair perfectly with a chilled white wine, this meal did not disappoint.  It’s certainly a splurge for a special evening, but it was the perfect thing to enjoy in the comfort of our own home after putting the kids down for an early bedtime.  Even if 90% of our dinner date conversation centers around how totally smitten we are with the two little animals we have created, we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Bummer date night rectified.


8 oz. pasta shapes, such as cavatappi
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
6 oz. fontina cheese, shredded*
4 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded*
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Dash grated nutmeg
12 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into ½-inch chunks**
½ cup panko
Minced fresh chives, for garnish


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish or individual gratin dishes.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta until a few minutes shy of al dente according to the package directions.  Drain well in a colander.

  • 02

    While the pasta is in the colander, return the pot to the medium heat.  Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the pan.  Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk in small additions until completely added and no lumps of flour remain.  Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes.  Once bubbling, cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the cheese and mix until completely melted. Return the pasta to the pot and mix to coat well with the cheese sauce.  Gently fold in the lobster meat.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

  • 03

    In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave.  Stir in the panko and toss until the crumbs are evenly coated.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the pasta in the baking dish.  Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbling.  Serve warm topped with fresh minced chives, if desired.

  • 04

    *For best results, always use freshly shredded cheese.  Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in things such as flour, cornstarch to prevent clumping and results in an unpleasant, gritty texture when melted.

    **Scared of cooking lobster?  I promise, it’s not hard!  I have a simple step-by-step on broiled lobster tails here.

  • Josie

    I’m not sure which I want more – the mac & cheese or the glass of wine :)

  • Nicole @ Healthy Way to Cook

    Lobster mac & cheese is amaaaaazing. Every once in a while my office will order it for lunch from this great lobster restaurant near us, but maybe I’ll try making your version at home to bring in one day :)

  • Sarah

    I’m not usually a big alcohol drinker, but for some reason every time I see a cold beer, a margarita, or a glass of wine in one of your pictures, it makes me want one SO badly!

  • Heidi Smith

    Yum! I’ve always wanted to try this but have been too scared of cooking the lobster myself until… I read back through your tutorial. I’m now confident that (the next time lobster goes on sale!) I can do this! Thanks!

  • Angie

    I personally don’t like seafood, but Lobster is one that I don’t mind. My DH likes seafood, and I feel bad that I won’t make it for him, so maybe for his 30th in a few months I’ll ship the little one away for the night and make him this. I’m sure most of our conversation will also center around how awesome the little guy is, but how can you not talk about such adorable little ones!?

    And, I love that you do monthly date nights. We may have to implement this when things slow down in our lives. So, in 18 years?!

  • Lauren Ochoa

    I know exactly what you mean Annie. It used to be so commonplace for my husband and I to go out that we could easily shrug off one bad experience. With 2 little ones and the basic out the door cost of the babysitter tacked on to whatever is spent on dinner and/or a movie, sometimes staying in doesn’t seem to be such a bad idea anymore. You’re right about meals at home though, I feel like a jack in the box sometimes popping up and down from the dinner table. Plus, I’m an animated talker so whenever my husband and I DO try to have a grown up conversation, my 4.5 year old Sofia goes into mediator role and sternly orders us to “share our words”.

  • Haley

    This looks so good! Definitely the perfect date night meal.

  • Caroline L.

    Yay, glad this made up for your bummer night! It certainly looks like a special treat!

  • Kelsey

    Annie, I’m sorry you and Ben had such a bummer date night. You’ve managed to turn it around beautifully with this mac, though, and the rest of us get to benefit. Thank you!

  • annieseats

    Haha! Love it. Glad to hear you can relate too.

  • This looks amazing! I get so bummed out by bad restaurant experiences. I know how to make a stellar meal at home, so when I go out I expect something better, and oftentimes restaurants don’t deliver…I’ve been wanting to try lobster mac and cheese for so long. I’m going to have to make this the next time I feel like a splurge!

  • Amy

    That looks great!!
    Here’s a silly question. Where did you get that fork? I’m assuming it’s in your stash of props, but I’d love to get a couple sets of silverware that look like that. I love them! :)

  • Angela

    I love lobster! This looks amazing. I will definitely be making this. …maybe for a date night as well since we also have issues squeezing time in for us with two little kiddos running around!

  • annieseats

    It’s one that my parents got when they were married, and I have no idea what kind it is or where it came from other than that. Sorry!

  • Leslie

    I dont think there is anything better in this world than Lobster Mac and Cheese!

  • Leah

    Wow, that looks fantastic! Your pictures get better every day. Just wondering, but would you ever do a post about food photography? I was just wondering in light of the fact that with winter coming and it getting dark by around 6, whether you just eat an early dinner or photograph the leftovers the following day. Your pictures are just always so awesome!

  • This looks wonderful!

  • Kim @ Just Baked

    Oh my gosh, I think my parents have the same ones! It must have been a popular pattern in the 70’s. I love it. Now I am going to have to steal a few for my pictures :D Wow, this mac and cheese looks amazing!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape

    I just saw an Ina recipe for this!! Is it weird that I’m deferring to yours?? lol Looks fantastic!

  • Vicki Bensinger

    Wow if you’re going to indulge, then this is the way to go. Pure heaven and comfort rolled into one.

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes

    I’m always game for a new mac and cheese recipe! :)

  • annieseats

    People ask me about this a lot but I just feel like I’m no authority on the topic, so I feel strange doing a post about it. Not to mention, I do have so many thoughts about it, it would require many posts to do any justice to it at all. At least for now I’m planning to stick to the food and leave the photography stuff up to the experts.

  • annieseats

    Mine is just a slight adaptation from hers, actually. Ina is awesome!

  • This is the ultimate comfort food! I will definitely be making this indulgence come winter time!!

  • Kiran @

    Oh my gosh, that looks amazing!!! Love the addition of lobster :)

  • MB

    There’s a restaurant in Philadelphia called The Continental that has a great lobster mac and cheese dish – their version uses orzo pasta and bakes it in a small rammekin. We ate there for our first anniversary and adored that dish. I may try to recreate it at home using this recipe as a guide.

  • Stephanie

    Looks amazing!! Can I ask where you bought your plates? I love them!

  • annieseats

    These are from Target :)

  • Stephanie

    Thanks!! They’re on my Christmas list :)

  • marcie

    i made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious. We do an untraditional Thanksgiving dinner at my MIL’s and I was thinking of bringing this. Do you think this would reheat / travel well (there were definitely no leftovers at my house) ? I am afraid the lobster would get rubbery. TIA.

  • annieseats

    I think I would probably prepare it up to the point of assembly, transport in a cooler, and then bake there for the best results. Awesome contribution to Thanksgiving!

  • sweetsugarbelle

    That’s a way to recover! You’re making me sooo hongry!!!

  • tia

    I made this on Easter and it was phenomenal. I used half and half instead of milk and it was delicious. I also layered fresh shredded Colby ck cheese throughout the dish. I want to share the recipe with friends but I think I’ll keep it for myself!