Lobster Bisque Recipe (2024)

Recipe from James Sakatos

Adapted by Sam Sifton

Lobster Bisque Recipe (1)

Total Time
2 hours 45 minutes
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This bisque is the best chance for a home cook to shine. Adapted from the recipe of the Carlyle’s executive chef, James Sakatos, it contains one of the great kitchen cheats of all time: a method for imparting rich creaminess that in a lesser establishment would come from a roux of butter and flour or a handful of cornstarch. You may end up using it all the time. —Sam Sifton

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Yield:4 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 2live lobsters, weighing around 3 pounds total
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 1carrot, chopped
  • 2ribs celery, chopped
  • 1medium onion, chopped
  • 2cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1cup medium sherry
  • 2cups fish stock or clam broth
  • ½cup long-grain white rice
  • 1cup heavy cream
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

502 calories; 31 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 12 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 31 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 19 grams protein; 890 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Lobster Bisque Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Fill a large pot with ½ inch of water. Stir in 2 teaspoons kosher salt and bring the water to a boil. Add the lobsters, cover with a tight-fitting lid and return the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a gentle boil and cook the lobsters until they are bright red, about 12 minutes. Remove the lobsters, reserving the liquid. When the lobsters have cooled slightly, place them in a bowl and remove the meat from the claws and tail, again reserving any liquid that comes out of the shells. Chop the meat and refrigerate. Roughly chop the shells into small pieces and reserve, along with all the lobster remains.

  2. Step


    Swirl the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the vegetables and herbs. Sweat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high and add the lobster shells and remains. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, then add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

  3. Add the sherry, then ignite or cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Add fish stock and 1 cup of the lobster-cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour.

  4. Step


    Strain the broth through a colander, pressing down hard on the solids to extrude as much liquid as possible. Wipe out the pot and pour in the broth. Add the rice and cook for at least 30 minutes, or until the grains are cooked to extreme softness.

  5. Step


    Blend the bisque in a food processor or blender, then pass through a fine sieve, again pressing down hard on what solids remain. Add the cream and bring to a low simmer. Add the chopped lobster meat, let it heat through, then season to taste with salt and cayenne.



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Cooking Notes


My bisque turned out very well , however there must be something wrong with the measurements of the liquid in this recipe. A total of 3 cups of liquid for 4 people is just impossible . I had to adjust the liquid quite a bit and had to add probably another three cups in total, not counting the sherry and cream.

With quite a bit of adjustment in turned out to be a brilliant bisque.


I have quadrupled this recipe for 2 Thanksgivings (and now I am on the hook forever!). The first time I quadrupled all the ingredients and it was too thick. This year I used more lobster - 9.6 pounds in 2 lobsters - and less rice, 1 1/2 cups instead of 2. It was perfect. I serve it in mugs and get 20 - 22 servings. Oh and I make it a day ahead, keeping the lobster meat separate from the bisque, and refrigerate all. An hour before serving I start to reheat the bisque and then add the meat.

Ronald Massaro

Sorry, I fat fingered that on my phone. the correct rice to stock ratio is 1/4 cup rice to 2 cup stock...

Ronald Massaro

As a professional Chef, I’ve been preparing classical bisques similar to this for years. As a ratio, you’ll be safe with 1/3 cup rice to every 2 cups stock. When preparing, make sure pot is covered when cooking rice to control evaporation.


This recipe creates a velvety smooth and beautifully favored bisque. However, the liquid ratios are way off. I would double the fish stock and cover the lobsters in water and reserve all of that in case it needs to be diluted - which it probably will. Don't get rid of that lobster water until you've processed the bisque through the sieve and have achieved desired consistency. Other than that, the flavors are fantastic. Consider using half brandy/half sherry for easier flame.


Given that almost all of the comments here say that the liquid amounts are significantly off, maybe Sam could consider rewriting this recipe or at the least address the concerns? Why do authors here never address concerns here? Such a great resource but this is dissuading me from trying this recipe and searching elsewhere.


This was fantastic, but as others mentioned, the liquid proportions are a little off and RESERVE that lobster water! Double the liquid: 4+ cups fish stock; 1-2 cups heavy cream; 1-2 cups sherry; and over the course of cooking you will need much more than 1 cup of the lobster water, so reserve it all for any additional adding (or thinning) you may need. The rice was a great thickener, and a tactic I'd never tried before this. Make sure you get it very mushy and blend it very well.

Joe Zahner

Important not too use converted rice as it will never soften


1C sherry, 2C fish stock, 1 C cream = 4C plus Step 3 says add 1C lobster cooking liquid, saved from Step 1 = total 5C. But I agree, not enough for 4 servings!!


Agree with the liquid ratios here — I doubled the fish stock and it was just right. I didn't feel like messing with live lobsters on Christmas Eve, so used 4 lobster tails instead and boiled for 6 min after splitting open the tops, then followed the rest of the instructions above. It worked beautifully, and with far fewer guts.


This appeared intimidating at first but was able to shortcut this recipe a bit as I had lobster stock in the freezer so we started with step 2 and skipped the shell part. I followed other user comments and upped the liquids and used 5 c lobster stock, 1c sherry and cooked as directed. I used 1/2 c rice. Once that bisque was done, I added 1c cream and fresh lobster meat. Decadent. Enough for 4 and could have stretched further for a first course. We had with salad and fresh bread.


The portions/serving size is small. More liquid needs to be added to make enough for 4-5 people. I added 5 cups for broth and 1 1/2 cream. Used merlot instead of cherry. Came out okay.


Made a couple of changes after reading the notes:-I used 4 lobster tails to avoid dealing with guts and stuff. -Don’t be afraid to add more liquid (~5 cups). Keep the boiled lobster water until the very end. -I puréed the veggies in the Vitamix and added them after the cream. I then puréed a couple more cups of the soup to get it really smooth. -I skipped the rice and thickened the final product with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water. Made barely 4 servings

Kathy Kotoski

I enjoyed the flavor of this bisque but thought the texture was a little weird with the rice thickening. It was very smooth and creamy but just didn’t seem to have the right mouth feel for me.


I'm assuming about 2 cups of water to steam the lobster in Step 1, then there are 4 cups of additional liquid, but the rice will soak up some of the stock. Compare this recipe for "rustic" shrimp bisque, and adjust liquid carefully to keep the flavor intense. Melissa uses 6 cups of liquid and only 1 pound of seafood, but there is a lot more going on flavor-wise. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013035-rustic-shrimp-bisque


Do you need the rice?

Siouxie Q

Yes! Comes out like velvet after blending.

Kelley S.

Absolutely delicious! We added the shell remains in Step 5 during the blending process for additional flavor. Not an easy dish to prepare, but worth the time & effort!


This is a great recipe. I agree with the notes that more liquid is required. I simply doubled the lobster water, which worked perfectly.


As usual excellent comments. Loved the base flavor. I wanted a lower carb version. Instead of rice Added 1 egg yoke , 1 tsp Xanthan gum, 1/2c cream, 12oz of addition seafood stock on hand. Perfect texture with those additions to original proportions. Held back several spoons of lobster meat for topper. Added remainder of lobster and used immersion blender to pulse for desired thickness. Awesome!

orlando bloom

Very smooth and lobstery. Mine was almost too salty. I might halve or skip the salt in the lobster steaming phase. That meat will be in the soup later so I don’t think it risks being underseasoned. Salt and cayenne at the end. Very good stuff.


This is a delicious recipe! I ate it with Caesar salad from scratch and a French baguette for a perfect meal. I made this with leftover lobster tails & claws.I had some frozen shrimp stock on hand too! This helped but it is a labor intensive recipe. If I wasn’t trying to use up my seafood I’d head to my favorite lobster bisque serving restaurant because it’s expensive and time consuming. I skipped the rice because of some of the reviews and added an extra cup of cream.


After blending/processing put through sieve, pressing on solids before adding lobster, cream should result in smoother texture.Haven't made this yet planning on New Year's Eve!

Florida Jess

Definitely save the lobster water. I did, but like I fool didn’t add any at the end. The bisque was super thick, more like a pasta sauce. In any case I ate it as “bisque” the first night, followed by adding it to a bowl of fettuccine with leftover lobster and basil the next night. I liked both. Next time though, I’ll add lobster water at the end to thin it out. Bon appetit!

Great Family and Friends Dish

I had about a pound of lobster left from a feed. We did this recipe, using lovage vs celery, and doubled the rice, kept adding stock and dry white wine, as in a risotto, then added a pint of heavy cream. We had 6 adults and two young children who enjoyed it enormously...

Everett L

I loved this recipe!!! my kids stayed for an extra 30 mins!!!! hope to see them and this recipe at the table in 6 months!!!!!


This Bisque recipe turned out fantastic! My daughter said it was the best she has ever had (we order it often in local restaurants). As in previous comments, I did adjust the liquid a bit but as my father used to say “cooking is fuzzy chemistry”. I made this with a 2lbs bag of lobster claws from Costco and through in a tail for good measure.


I love this recipe but agree with others than you need much more liquid… I get a bit larger lobsters and probably have 8 cups of “lobster water” after the simmer… I then also make sure I have a fish stock on hand from some previous meal. I take my time and reduce the liquid during the “shells” step; then add some quality fish stock and more lobster water as I see fit… it always comes out great and is a fan favorite for Christmas dinner.


Had to add a lot more liquid to end up with more than a single portion. The flavor was way too intense and off-putting for me. Won't be making again.


Frustrated by this recipe. Wish I had read the comments first. The liquid ratios are far off and I had to add additional stock several times. In the end it didn’t even taste very good. Super disappointed especially considering all the time and effort that went into making this.

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Lobster Bisque Recipe (2024)


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