Classic Lobster Thermidor

Let’s turn on the time machine and go back to the days when the ultra-rich indulged in culinary extravagance almost every day, luxuriating in their wealth and social status with formal dinners served elegantly by wait staff in the most exclusive restaurants, or at homes with large, ornate dining rooms served by discreetly attentive butlers and maids.

Now imagine being served an exquisite dish called Lobster Thermidor...a supremely classical and indulgent meal that’s painstakingly prepared and presented. Sounds like a scene from a movie, doesn’t it?

Well, here’s the real thing, brought into the 21st century for today’s diners and courtesy of our friends at

lobster thermidor in shell with lemon wedge Lobster Thermidor from Don Giovanni courtesy of TripAdvisor

Active Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Makes: 4 servings         


  • 2 (1 ½-lb.) live lobsters
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter
  • ¼ lb. mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream, scalded
  • 2 large egg yolks


  1. Plunge lobsters headfirst into an 8-quart pot of boiling salted water. (When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts water.) Loosely cover pot and cook lobsters over moderately high heat 9 minutes from time they enter water, then transfer with tongs to sink to cool.
  2. When lobsters are cool enough to handle, twist off claws and crack them, then remove meat. Halve lobsters lengthwise with kitchen shears, beginning from tail end, then remove tail meat, reserving shells. Cut all lobster meat into ¼-inch pieces.
  3. Discard any remaining lobster innards, then rinse and dry shells.
  4. Heat butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook mushrooms, stirring, until liquid that mushrooms give off is evaporated and they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add lobster meat, paprika, salt, and pepper and reduce heat to low. Cook, shaking pan gently, 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon of Sherry and ½ cup of hot cream and simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Whisk together yolks and remaining tablespoon Sherry in a small bowl. Slowly pour remaining ½ cup hot cream into yolks, whisking constantly, and transfer to a small heavy saucepan. Cook custard over very low heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened and registers 160ºF on an instant-read thermometer. Add custard to lobster mixture, stirring gently.
  6. Preheat broiler.
  7. Arrange lobster shells, cut sides up, in a shallow baking pan and spoon lobster with some of the sauce into shells. Broil lobsters 6 inches from heat until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

We’re sure that the moment you serve this decadent meal, you’ll feel as grand and glamorous as the people who wined and dined with each other on it during the early part of the 20th century!