Lobster Thermidor

Lobster Thermidor

The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Prep: 55 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 63 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
974 Calories
55g Fat
18g Carbs
89g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 974
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 55g 71%
Saturated Fat 19g 93%
Cholesterol 711mg 237%
Sodium 2439mg 106%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 89g
Vitamin C 5mg 24%
Calcium 481mg 37%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 1298mg 28%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lobster Thermidor is a classic recipe that is always a showstopper on any special occasion. While it does call for several steps and almost an hour of prep time, the recipe isn't especially hard to make and doesn't require advanced cooking techniques. First, the live lobsters need to be cooked, then a bechamel sauce is made, and then the lobster meat is added to the sauce along with a shallot-wine glaze, heavy cream, and egg yolks. The mixture is spooned into the empty lobster shells and baked until golden and bubbling.

Either a New England or spiny lobster can be used in this recipe, and it is best to use fresh tarragon if possible, as its aroma and flavor are more prominent when fresh; the pine of the herb together with the sherry makes a huge impact on the final flavor.

3:09

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Ingredients

For the Lobster:

  • 2 (1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound) live lobsters

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup lobster stock

  • 2/3 cup milk

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Pinch of nutmeg

For the Thermidor:

  • 3/4 cup white wine

  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry

  • 2/3 cup lobster stock

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

  • Salt, to taste

  • Sweet or hot paprika, garnish

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this lobster dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prepare the Lobster

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    Lobster Thermidor, lobster prep ingredients

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  2. With a sharp chef's knife, split each live lobster in half lengthwise, starting with the head and working the knife back toward the tail. When you begin at the head end, the process kills the lobster instantly.

    two lobster, split in half

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  3. Brush the lobster with the olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.

    lobster cut in half and brushed with olive oil

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  4. Remove the lobster from the oven and let it cool.

    baked lobster halves on a parchment lined baking sheet

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Make the Béchamel Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lobster Thermidor, Béchamel Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  2. In a small skillet or saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter over medium heat and adding the flour, 1 spoonful at a time, mixing vigorously.

    make a roux in a saucepan by melting the butter and adding the flour

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  3. Continue cooking and whisking until the roux is blonde or caramel in color, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    roux in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  4. Add the stock and whisk well to combine.

    stock added to roux in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  5. Let the mixture come to a simmer, about 2 minutes, then slowly add the milk, whisking continuously.

    milk added to the roux and stock mixture

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  6. After the mixture has simmered again—about 2 more minutes—add some salt and pepper to taste and then the nutmeg. Be mindful of not letting the béchamel boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

    béchamel sauce in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Make the Lobster Thermidor

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lobster Thermidor ingredients

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  2. With the help of a fork, remove the meat from all parts of the cooled lobster. Reserve the empty lobster shells (just the main body) for the dish.

    lobster meat in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  3. Chop the lobster meat coarsely.

    chopped lobster meat on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  4. In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, add the wine, sherry, lobster stock, shallot, and tarragon. Boil it down until it is thick in consistency, almost like a glaze—about 10 minutes.

    wine, sherry, lobster stock, shallots, and tarragon in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  5. Add the béchamel sauce to the glaze, and stir well to combine.

    béchamel sauce added to the glaze in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  6. In a separate bowl, mix the heavy cream with the egg yolk.

    heavy cream and an egg yolk in a bowl

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  7. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of the béchamel-glaze mixture into the egg yolk and cream, stirring constantly. (By tempering the cream-egg mixture, you won't get scrambled eggs in your sauce.)

    add some of the béchamel-glaze mixture into the egg yolk and cream mixture in the bowl

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  8. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the béchamel-glaze.

    add the egg cream mixture into the béchamel-glaze mixture

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  9. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat, but don't let boil. Add the dry mustard and some salt to taste.

    dry mustard and salt added to the sauce in the pan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  10. Cook until the sauce is thickened—about 3 minutes— then remove from the heat.

    sauce thickened in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  11. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Add the lobster meat to the sauce and mix well.

    lobster pieces added to the sauce in the saucepan

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Bake the Lobster Thermidor

  1. Fill the empty lobster shells with the lobster Thermidor mixture, then place on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper if you like) and bake for 5 to 8 minutes.

    lobster shells filled with lobster pieces and sauce

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

  2. Sprinkle the top with a little paprika as a garnish. Serve and enjoy.

    Lobster Thermidor on a plate

    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.

Tip

  • If you prefer, you can eat the Thermidor outside of the shells. Instead of scooping the filling into the lobster shells, place it in a baking dish before putting in the oven; serve with crusty bread or over egg noodles.
  • If you don't have lobster stock, you can use fish or chicken stock as a substitute.
  • When purchasing whole lobster, calculate 1 or 1 1/2 pounds of lobster per person, as the final yield will bring about 4 to 8 ounces of meat per person.

Why Is It Called Thermidor?

There are two competing stories as to the origin of this elegant lobster dish's name. One is that Napoleon named it after the month in which he first ate it, which, according to the French Revolutionary calendar, was called Thermidor. The second version comes from Lorousse Gastronomique: It was invented in 1894 in Paris, France, at Marie's Restaurant, and named in honor of the play "Thermidor," which was showing nearby.