Ruth's Chris might be a steakhouse at heart, but their lobster mac and cheese is one of my favorite dishes on the menu. The rich, cheesy cream sauce is heavenly and delicious on its own, but they take it to the next level with sweet, succulent lobster. The lobster meat is so tender, it basically melts in your mouth as you eat it. Put it all together, and this dish is a true knock-out!
Unfortunately, Ruth's Chris is not cheap. And it's pretty fancy, too, so I always feel like a bit of a schlub walking into the bar area in my street clothes. The solution: create a copycat Ruth's Chris lobster mac and cheese recipe that's worthy of a sophisticated dinner party but simple enough to make for the family on the weekend. Did we pull it off? You bet we did!
When developing copycat recipes, we always start by checking the company's website to see if they list any ingredients or allergen information. Ruth's Chris is pretty tight lipped about that, and they don't have any published information. So I went straight to the source and ordered a bowl of lobster macaroni and cheese as a taste test. I tried asking the server for some inside information, but she wasn't willing to share anything. Okay, it's up to the taste buds on this one!
The menu describes the dish as "cavatappi pasta, tender lobster, white cheddar sauce." I love the use of cavatappi here (a corkscrew pasta) because there are plenty of grooves and spaces for the cheese sauce to cling to. If you can't find it, you can use classic elbow pasta instead. For the lobster, I chose lobster tails because they're easy to find at the store and even easier to cook.
From there, I had to do some guesswork on the white cheddar sauce. I've seen the mac and cheese referred to on previous menus as a "three cheese sauce," so I was on the lookout for the two other cheeses to add with cheddar. I didn't taste (or see) any additional spices, so I left out many of the ingredients used in other copycat recipes, like garlic powder, paprika, mustard, and panko bread crumbs.The sauce was very rich and slightly sweet, so I guessed they used heavy cream and butter. My experience as a professional chef helped me to know those two ingredients would be combined with flour to make a roux that thickens the sauce, and they probably added a little milk to the mix (cream is expensive, and milk helps keep the costs down).
I put it all together and gave it a taste test. After a little tweaking, I think we came pretty darn close to a recipe that tastes like the original dish!
Best Cheese for Making Macaroni and Cheese
Okay, so this question probably opens a never ending debate. For the purposes of this recipe, I used a combination of cheddar, gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses for our copycat Ruth's Chris lobster mac and cheese recipe. The cheddar melts easily and brings a sharp, pungent flavor to the sauce, while the gruyere brings the rich, creamy aspect, and Parmesan rounds it out with a nutty flavor. Ruth's Chris' menu specifically states they use white cheddar in their sauce, but I only had yellow cheddar on hand when I was testing the recipe. They taste the same, so feel free to use what you have, too.
As far as the best ever cheese for making mac and cheese? Oh boy, you certainly have options! If you want to have fun and play around with cheese, go for it! Just keep in mind that it won't taste exactly like Ruth's Chris' mac and cheese if you make any changes.
What Does Lobster Mac and Cheese Go With?
This copycat Ruth's Chris lobster mac and cheese is rich, rich, rich, so you'll want to serve it with the right dishes. It can absolutely be served as a main dish, so try vegetable sides and greens salads. My favorite option is an arugula salad dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice. Steamed or roasted vegetables are nice here, too, and broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, or asparagus pair exceptionally well. If carbo-loading is your thing, serve up some garlic bread or cheddar biscuits on the side (perfect for sopping up the last bit of sauce from the bottom of the bowl).
Of course, if you're serving the lobster mac and cheese as a side dish, go as big as you like! Grilled steak, pork chops, rotisserie or fried chicken, ribs, and meatloaf all pair really well with mac and cheese.
Ruth's Chris Lobster Mac and Cheese Substitutions
While the lobster absolutely makes this copycat recipe fancy, the cheese sauce was rich enough to enjoy the mac and cheese on its own. If you're serving anyone with a shellfish allergy, or you want to make this recipe vegetarian-friendly, simply leave off the lobster. You can add vegetables like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, spinach, or butternut squash, if you like.
Of course, you could also swap out the lobster for 7 ounces of your favorite protein. Shrimp, crab, or tuna make good substitutions to keep vibing on the seafood theme, or you could use chopped bacon, leftover rotisserie chicken, chorizo, or spicy chicken sausage.
To make the recipe gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta brand instead of the cavatappi. Of course, you'll also want to make the cheese sauce gluten-free by using gluten-free flour or cornstarch (or another gluten-free cornstarch substitute).
Copycat Ruth’s Chris Lobster Mac and Cheese
- 2 lobster tails thawed if frozen
- 1/2 pound cavatappi pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter plus extra for greasing the pan
- 1-1/2 tablespoons AP flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
- Cook the lobster tails by steaming them for 1 minute an ounce, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 135 °F. Place the tails in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Once cool, remove the meat from the shell and roughly chop it. Set aside.
- Cook the cavatappi pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat until it's bubbly and melted, about 2 minutes.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is frothy and smells nutty, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the heavy cream followed by the milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid is lightly thickened.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add 1-1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese one handful at a time, stirring until it's melted before adding the next handful of cheese. Follow the cheddar cheese with the Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. When all the cheese is added and incorporated, stir in the salt.
- Toss the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce until it’s evenly coated.
- Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan (or any 3-quart oven-safe dish) with butter. Add the pasta and cheese sauce to the baking dish. Sprinkle the cooked, chopped lobster meat evenly over the top of the pasta. Top the dish with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
- Top with chopped chives before serving.