An indulgent and rich stuffed Lobster recipe with a buttery bechamel sauce, this simple Lobster Thermidor lets you enjoy this classic French recipe in less than an hour!
Lobster Thermidor Recipe
Lobster Thermidor was originally created by the incomparable Auguste Escoffier, arguably the father of French Cuisine.
Long before Julia Child ever set foot in a French kitchen, Chef Escoffier had written his Le Guide Culinaire, which would later be translated simply as The Escoffier Cook Book. The recipes laid out in his book have become the standards by which all French chefs are judged and it is a standard text for many culinary schools. Though the recipes can be a bit cumbersome for the home chef, I have never regretted my attempts at cooking from the giant leather-bound tomb.
Funny enough, my first attempt at lobster thermidor was not inspired by my love of French food at all – it was inspired by my 6 year old’s love of H2O (a Netflix mermaid show from the early 2000’s). One of the characters mentioned lobster thermidor being her favorite, and my daughter became fixated on trying it for herself.
What is lobster thermidor? Lobster Thermidor is a classic French preparation in which cooked lobster meat is combined with egg yolks, brandy, mustard, and other ingredients to form a savory lobster custard, and then stuffed back into the lobster shell and baked, often with cheese sprinkled overtop.
My first attempt at making lobster thermidor, I stuck to Escoffier’s original recipe found in his “The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery.” It is complex, using brandy, thyme and nutmeg to make the bechamel sauce. It was delicious, decadently rich – and absolutely crave-worthy. But it took me over an hour to prepare, which is just impractical for most parents.
On my second attempt, I distilled his recipe to make it reasonable for me to make for a special Sunday night supper. This is definitely a recipe for those who love to cook – even with my simplified version, this recipe will take you about 30-45 minutes to prepare before it goes under the broiler.
The most time-consuming process of this recipe is removing the lobster meat from the shells (while keeping the shells relatively intact for stuffing again with the creamy lobster afterwards).
To save time for when you plan to prepare this recipe, you can cook and cool the lobsters in advance – or even go as far as to remove the meat from the shells. Refrigerate until you are ready to start the bechamel sauce (and allow the lobster to come to room temperature at that time so it doesn’t shock the sauce).
My suggestion is to either:
- prepare your side dishes as the lobster cools, before you remove the meat
- OR, remove the meat hours or the day before, and then make your side dishes as the sauce is reducing
You could even use lobster meat that has already been removed from it’s shell and simply cook the lobster custard in ramekins. A little less theatrical than serving stuffed lobsters, but a lot easier and quicker!
The sauce itself may sound complicated, but it’s straight-forward and low maintenance. Just keep an eye on it and give it an occasional stir as you multitask (with either extracting the lobster meat or preparing the side dishes).
The result for all your hard work: a creamy, decadent stuffed lobster recipe that is like a savory lobster custard. But consider yourself warned – once you try lobster thermidor, you’ll never be satisfying with plain lobster tails ever again!
What to serve with lobster thermidor?
The most classic serving would simply be garlic toast, however many restaurants now serve it with rice, pasta or mini-dumplings (think gnocchi or spaetzle).
If serving along veggies, try to opt for roasted or steamed veggies that don’t compete with the lobster for center stage. A simple lemon dressing, oil and balsamic dressing, or even a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese should be adequate to help the veggies compliment the lobster. Asparagus or green beans would be my preference.
As the lobster is heavy, opt for light appetizers or a light dessert, if any.
Ingredients for Lobster Thermidor
- 4 lobsters
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups fish stock
- 1/2 cup wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)
- 1 teaspoon English-style mustard
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoon parsley
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
- Parmesan, optional
Tip: this recipe also works for 2 lobsters, we just had extra sauce and used it for dipping our garlic bread in afterwards.
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How to Make Lobster Thermidor
Cook the lobsters – either steaming for 8 minutes per lobster or use our Instant Pot method. They should be bright red with fragile antennae.
Cool the lobster as you prepare your side dishes.
When the lobster is cool enough to handle, cut the bottom of the lobsters out with kitchen shears and pull out all lobster meat. Crack the claws to remove that meat and also remove the meat from the legs. Try to preserve the main body shell and tail shell for baking. (Clean under cold water, if necessary.)
I suggest being at least halfway through the meat removal process before staring the sauce, as it is time consuming. (Of course, you could use lobster meat that has already been removed from it’s shell to save yourself time – just cook in ramekins instead of the shell.)
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onion. Cook until transparent, about 2 minutes.
Add the fish stock, wine, double cream and mustard. Bring to a boil and allow to cook until the liquid has halved in volume, about 10-12 minutes, stirring regularly.
When the liquid has reduced to half, place the egg yolks into the small saucepan and whisk in 1/2 cup of the cream mixture.
Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and the mixture reaches a temperature of 160F. Pay close attention to prevent curdling.
Whisk the custard mixture into the cream mixture (large pot) and then add the lemon juice, parsley and salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the lobster meat and stir to coat.
Spoon the lobster meat back into the shells and then place in casserole dish. Optionally, you can top with parmesan.
Broil for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with garlic toast.
Grab your free printable for our easy lobster thermidor recipe:
This lobster thermidor recipe is one of my family’s favorites and I hope you get a chance to enjoy it, too!