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This elegant lobster pasta recipe is bursting with succulent lobster poached in butter in a creamy parmesan sauce with flavorful herbs. It's the perfect recipe to make for your next date night or Valentine's Day.
Lobster pasta is such a love for me. Not only because pasta recipes are a favorite category here on Sweet Tea + Thyme, but because it's a special occasion pasta that really is so simple and easy to make especially during lobster season, when fresh lobster is abundant at the grocery store.
I was shipped frozen lobster tails by a lovely brand and I knew that a plate of easy lobster pasta was going to end up here. This recipe is a little like an easy lobster scampi But now that it's summer, you can find whole live lobsters and use all the meat from them.
If this sounds like what you want to do, check out my post on whole lobster, it shows how to boil lobsters or steam them, and how to remove the meat from the lobster shells including the legs, knuckles, claw meat, and lobster tail meat with kitchen scissors.
How to Make it
What makes this delicious seafood pasta dish so luxurious is one, the large chunks of flavorful lobster meat, and two, the garlicky butter sauce tossed with a hearty splash of pasta water and parmesan cheese to make a creamy lobster pasta sauce.
In this recipe we're butter poaching the lobster. Sounds fancy, but it's really easy. A garlic clove sizzles while a cup of butter melts in a wide skillet over medium low heat with a pinch of salt to season lobster tails. Very easy, but it is such a great part of this recipe.
The lobster flavor in that melted butter stays while the garlic and herbs like fresh basil and thyme are added with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and then the sauce is finished with the pasta water and generous amounts of parmesan cheese for a creamy pasta dish.
Pasta. I used a fresh pasta, pappardelle, that I got from a local farmer's market. You could use fresh homemade pasta or the dried pasta from the store, just cook it in a rolling boil according to the package instructions in salted water. Tip: don't drain pasta water! Use tongs to get the pasta out of the water, because that pasta water is pure gold!
Cold Water Lobster. Both cold and warm water lobster can be found on the US east coast but cold water lobsters are specifically a New England delicacy, but more popularly Maine, used in all types of dishes like lobster rolls, lobster benedict, and other lobster recipes.
They are completely different than warm water lobsters (they're not even the same species) with more meat in their bodies since they have claws and most the entire body is edible, and the flesh is more tender and firm without a fishy taste, unlike warm weather lobsters.
Unsalted Butter. Control the salt in your dish by using unsalted butter, but if you just have salted butter it's okay!
Garlic. Mince the garlic finely when making the sauce, or use a garlic press.
Fresh thyme and basil.
Lemon zest. An ingredient that gives tons of flavor! The actual lemon flavor comes from the zest.
Red pepper flakes.
Parmesan cheese. Please, please, please use the real stuff from a wedge! Not that green shaker thing!
How to Butter Poach Lobster
It sounds hard, but it's not y'all. It's super easy.
First get the lobster meat out of the shell. If you're making this with a whole lobster, go visit my how to cook a whole lobster post. But for lobster tails, use kitchen shears to gently cut the bottom of the shell from top to the tip of the tail.
Carefully pry out the meat, bonus points if you can get the meat from the flap part of the tail and clean out any veins that weren't taken out with the carapace and pat dry with paper towels.
In a large saucepan, you melt butter with a smashed clove of garlic for flavor and a pinch of salt. Yes, I say a pinch because the reserved water we take from the pasta, which is pretty salty, and the parmesan is salty! Remember you can always add salt, but you can't take it back.
Add in the lobster tails and cook them in the butter, flipping them after about a minute or two. We want to cook them for about 4-5 minutes at most, just until they're opaque.
Take them out and chop them up on a cutting board to make the herbed garlic butter in that large skillet and toss in the cooked pasta. Make sure you start to cook the pasta while poaching the lobster so it's ready by time you are ready to finish off the sauce.
Tips for the Best Pasta
Add in a splash of white wine into the garlic sauce and cook it out for a minute to get rid of the alcohol but keep all the flavor.
Want a creamy alfredo sauce? Add a cup of heavy cream to the butter after poaching and keep at a low simmer until it's reduced about half way before continuing with the pasta and lobster.
I like getting a little more fancy sometimes by stirring in a hearty dollop of creme fraiche into this lobster dish while serving. It's the super creamy, fancy French cousin of sour cream. Not as thick or tangy, it's thickened heavy cream with active cultures. I have an awesome DIY creme fraiche recipe if you want to try that out.
What to Serve with Lobster Pasta
I do love serving this pasta dish as a date night in main dish, but this recipe also makes it as four side dishes. Here's my favorite main courses to serve with lobster pasta:
- Try a reverse seared ribeye steak! It's how the steakhouses do it, and it makes perfect steak every time.
- This goes perfectly with Ina Garten's famous Million Dollar Chicken. It's really delicious chicken brushed with aleppo pepper and creme fraiche that's roasted over a thick slice of brioche. So decadent and really great for date night!
- I love this Sous Vide Tender Eye of Round Roast Beef! It's a really affordable cut that, after being slow cooked by a sous vide machine, is just as tender as beef tenderloin! One of my most popular recipes on the blog!
Love pasta dishes? Check these recipes out:
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- 12 ounces pasta
Butter Poached Lobster
- 3 (5 ounce) lobster tails
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
- ½ tsp kosher salt
Herb Parmesan Sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems
- 2 tsp fresh basil, torn apart
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like spice)
- Zest of half a medium lemon
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- Fresh basil and parmesan cheese, for serving
- In a dutch oven or large pot, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil while poaching the lobster. Cook your pasta of choice to al dente according to the package directions.
Butter Poaching Lobster
- Use kitchen shears to gently cut the bottom of the shell of the lobster tails from top to the tip of the tail.
- Carefully pry out the meat, bonus points if you can get the meat from the flap part of the tail and clean out any veins that weren't taken out with the carapace and pat dry with paper towels and season with the kosher salt.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat with the smashed garlic clove.
- Add in the lobster tails and cook them in the butter, flipping them after about a minute or two. Cook the lobster until it's opaque, about 4-5 minutes total.
- Take them out of the pan and chop them up into large chunks on a cutting board.
Garlic Herb Parmesan Sauce
- In the same pan put the minced garlic, thyme, basil, lemon zest and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute, stirring to make sure nothing burns. We want to cook it just until the garlic is really nice and fragrant but not browned.
- Turn off the heat and add the hot cooked pasta into the garlic butter pan along with the reserved pasta water. Throw in all the parmesan cheese and give it a really good toss with tongs to mixed all the ingredients together and melt the parmesan into the water.
- Add the chopped lobster meat into the pot and give a gentle toss together to mix the lobster into the dish.
- Serve your lobster pasta immediately while still hot, garnish with fresh basil and more parmesan cheese.
Make Ahead Instructions
Both the sauce and the lobster can be made ahead! Simply reheat them in a large saucepan or skillet over medium low heat just until the lobster meat is warmed through. While this is happening, boil your pasta and toss the pasta in with the parmesan to finish the dish.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 865mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 20g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.