What is Lobster Newberg?

This old-school dish has an interesting history

The creamy dish was invented at Delmonico's Restaurant in 1876.

In conversations about classic old-time American fine dining dishes, Lobster Newberg invariably comes up. But what is it, exactly?

First, a little history. The dish was invented by a sea captain and regular at New York’s legendary Delmonico’s restaurant, Ben Wenberg, in 1876. He demonstrated the dish for Delmonico’s owner Charles Delmonico, who was such a fan that he had the restaurant’s chef, the renowned Charles Ranhofer, refine it and add it to the menu as Lobster a la Wenberg.

It was an immediate hit, but despite its success it was removed from the menu after Delmonico and Wenberg had a falling-out. Guests continued to request it, however, so to keep them happy it was returned to the menu, albeit with a slightly altered name: Lobster Newberg.

So what’s in the dish? First, egg yolks and heavy cream are beaten together, then combined in a saucepan with melted butter and sherry. Once the mixture thickens, salt, cayenne, and nutmeg are added, followed by chunks of lobster, which are heated until cooked through. It’s traditionally served over buttered toast.

Lobster Newberg is a famous historical dish and certainly delicious, but be warned — if there’s one thing it isn’t, it’s healthy.


Lobster Newburg

Gastronomic lore tells us that the forerunner of this famous lobster dish was actually created at Delmonico's, the well-known New York City restaurant, during its heyday in the latter part of the last century. Mr. Ben Wenburg (or Wenberg, as some believe), a Delmonico's habitué during this period, is said to have devised a dish made with seafood, cream, and egg yolks. It was called Wenburg on the menu until some time later when the epicurean Mr. Wenburg became involved in a dispute with the management. Thereafter, the restaurant renamed the offering seafood "Newburg," and a classic was born.

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Lobster Newberg History and Recipe

Did you know that it was among the most popular dishes served in the American Pavilion at the Paris Exposition of 1900.

Photo from Taste of Home magazine, March/April 2003

History of Lobster Newberg – Lobster a la Wenberg:

1867 – Some historians believe that Lobster Newberg originated at the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, PA, as Lobster Newberg was the signature dish of this elegant hotel during the 1800s. Louis Fauchere, known locally as the “crazy Frenchman,” purchased a small saloon, (known as the “Van Gorden & La Bar” and also previously known as “The French Hotel” which is believed to have been owned by relatives of his wife, Rosalie Perrochet Fauche, who had come to Milford as part of the French settlement in the early 19th century. He left his position as chef at New York City’s famous Delmonico’s restaurant to open this hotel and dining room, also called Delmonico’s.

He originally built the hotel summer retreat for New York City society. Louis Fauchere prided himself on the hotel’s original cuisine and an elegant atmosphere,and the restaurant soon became famous. He always claimed he invented Lobster Newberg, but this has not ever been proven. He worked at Delmonico’s Restaurant under the famous chef, Alessandro Filippini, who worked there from 1849 to 1888. Louis Fauchere left Delmonico’s Restaurant and permanently moved to Milford in 1867. Fauchere opened the Hotel Fauchere eight years before Delmonico’s Restaurant claimed it was created in 1876. You be the judge!

Caesar Chiappini, master chef of the Hotel Fauchere for 42 years (1926-1968), is given credit for perfecting and popularizing the dish with his own secret recipe.

1876 – The most popular theory on the history of the dish was created at the Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City. The first Delmonico’s restaurant was opened in 1827 by brothers Giovanni and Pietro Delmonico. The brothers hired French cooks of ability from the steady stream of immigrants who settled in New York.

Lobster Newberg was originally introduced and named after Ben Wenberg, a wealthy sea captain engaged in the fruit trade between Cuba and New York. When on shore, he customarily ate at Delmonico’s Restaurant. One day in 1876, home from a cruise, he entered the cafe and announced that he had brought back a new way to cook lobster (where he originally got the idea for this new dish has never been discovered). Calling for a blazer (chafing dish), he demonstrated his discovery by cooking the dish at the table and invited Charles Delmonico to taste it. Delmonico said, “Delicious” and forthwith entered the dish on the restaurant menu, naming it in honor of its creator Lobster a la Wenberg. The dish quickly became popular and much in demand, especially by the after-theater clientele.

Many months after Ben Wenberg and Charles Delmonico fought or argued over an as-yet-undiscovered and probably trivial matter. The upshot was that Charles banished Wenberg from Delmonico’s and ordered Lobster a la Wenberg struck from the menu. That did not stop patrons from asking for the dish. By typographical slight-of-hand, Delmonico changed the spelling from “Wenberg” to “Newberg,” and Lobster Newberg was born. This dish has also been called Lobster Delmonico.

Delmonico’s famous chef, Chef Charles Ranhofer (1936-1899), altered the original recipe to add his own touch. In 1876, Charles Ranhofer retired and returned to France. In 1879, three years after he left Delmonico’s to retire in France, Charles Ranhofer returned to America and Delmonico’s as chef de cuisine at the 26th Street (Madison Square) restaurant. He was the chef at Delmonico’s from 1862 to 1896. In his book, The Epicurean, published in 1894, Ranhofer gives the following recipe for Lobster a la Newberg:

“Cook six lobsters each weighing about two pounds in boiling salted water for twenty-five minutes. Twelve pounds of live lobster when cooked yields from two to two and a half pounds of meat with three to four ounces of coral. When cold detach the bodies from the tails and cut the latter into slices, put them into a sautoir, each piece lying flat, and add hot clarified butter season with salt and fry lightly on both sides without coloring moisten to their height with good raw cream reduce quickly to half and then add two or three spoonfuls of Madeira wine boil the liquid once more only, then remove and thicken with a thickening of egg yolks and raw cream. Cook without boiling, incorporating a little cayenne and butter then arrange the pieces in a vegetable dish and pour the sauce over.”

1880’s– In the 1880’s, it was the favorite lobster specialty at the resort hotels on Coney Island, which bough as much as 3,500 pounds of lobster daily to satisfy their customers’ lobster longings.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry, such as fino or amontillado
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 pound sea scallops, halved horizontally
  • 1/2 pound haddock or hake fillet, skinned and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Whisk in the cream and sherry and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Whisk in the paprika and nutmeg over low heat. Cook, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the scallops and haddock and cook over moderate heat, stirring gently, until the haddock starts to turn white, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and lobster and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the cream sauce and simmer over low heat until the seafood is cooked, about 3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Lobster Newburg

There’s nothing more impressive than a lobster dinner but take a few extra minutes and you can make it that much more special. Lobster Newburg is definitely the way to go.

If you’ve never had it before, it’s made of tender lobster meat that’s cooked in a creamy, cognac spiked buttery sauce that’s rich with egg yolk.

It can be served with toast points but I love to buy the frozen puff pastry shells and fill them with the lobster. It just adds to the wow factor.

Lobster Newburg was created by a sea captain by the name of Ben Wenberg.. He shared the dish at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City to the manager, Charles Delmonico, in 1876.

It eventually made it to the menu in an adapted form but I’ve come across it at so many restaurants it’s always the thing I order because it’s simply amazing.

How to Make It

Lobster Newburg is incredibly simple to make. If you take the time to boil your own lobsters, you will save a bit of money making it.

If you’re using frozen lobster meat you’ll be able to have this on the table in about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Cook and chop the lobster meat if you’re steaming it yourself. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet.

Whisk in the flour and cook until golden brown.

Stir in the half and half, cooking until slightly thickened.

Temper the eggs by stirring in a small amount of the cream.

Stir the tempered eggs into the cream over low heat.

Add the lobster, cognac, nutmeg, salt and lemon juice.

Serve in puff pastry shells or with toast points.

Now, this may not be the original way of cooking Lobster Newburg but it’s substantially easier to make this way. I love a good kitchen shortcut!

Lobster Newburg is VERY similar to this recipe for Lobster Thermidor!

Pro Tips

Lobster Meat – Fresh is best but frozen lobster works in a pinch. Be sure to dry the lobster to remove excess moisture before adding to the sauce.

Eggs – Don’t skip the step of tempering the egg yolks or the mixture will scramble once it hits the hot cream. Also, do not stop stirring so the eggs on the bottom of the pan do not begin to scramble. This will ensure your sauce is smooth without egg lumps.

Cognac – I like to use cognac for this recipe but any brandy, sherry or marsala will work, too.

What To Serve It With

Lobster Newburg is a rich, decadent meal so I like to keep things lighter on the side. We love to serve it alongside a simple Green Beans Almondine with a wedge salad when entertaining.

You can also serve it with this easy asparagus recipe to keep things even simpler and then round it out with Chocolate Pot de Creme for dessert.

More Easy Seafood Recipes

If you like this Lobster Newburg, you should also try these easy Lobster Rolls for a more casual meal or this Lobster Pasta Salad.

This easy Lobster Mac and Cheese is also equally simple to make and better than some restaurant versions I’ve tried.

Or try this simple Lobster Corn Chowder….it’s hearty and so comforting!


Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a vigorous boil. Add lobster tails and cook, covered, for 8 minutes from the time the water returns to a boil. Transfer to a cutting board, cool, crack open, and remove the meat.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add lobster meat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons brandy and 2 tablespoons sherry cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove meat from pan and set aside.

Stir cream into saucepan and boil until reduced. Reduce the heat to low and stir in 7 teaspoons brandy, 4 teaspoons sherry, cayenne pepper, salt and nutmeg. Whisk in egg yolks and cook until thick. Stir in the lobster and heat through.


Lobster Newberg

The story behind Lobster Newburg, a dish of lobster meat in a sherry cream sauce, is so closely linked to Delmonico’s restaurant that they should be told together. From the early 19th century until 1923, Delmonico’s was the place where New York’s rich and powerful stuffed themselves with 12-course meals drenched in complicated sauces. The man who ran the kitchen was Charles Ranhofer, a French-trained chef who had cooked for royalty when he was still a teenager. At Delmonico’s, Ranhofer had an unlimited budget and an army of cooks to keep up with the orders. The menu was seven pages long, but if a guest wanted something special and could pay for it, Ranhofer served it.

In 1876 Ben Wenberg, a wealthy sea captain who frequented Delmonico’s told Ranhofer about a way to cook lobster with a secret ingredient. Under Wenberg’s supervision, the lobster was prepared with cream, butter, sherry, egg yolk and a pinch of cayenne, the so-called mysterious ingredient. The dish turned out to be such a hit that it was named Lobster Wenberg and added to the menu. Months later, after an argument over something trivial with owner Charles Delmonico, Wenberg was banned from the restaurant and his lobster was taken off the menu. That would have been the end of Lobster Wenburg, except customers kept asking for it. Delmonico, who kept a close watch on the bottom line, had no choice. The lobster went back on the menu, but still peeved, he reversed the letters “W” and “N” Wenberg, making it “Lobster Newberg” years later it was changed again to “Newburg.” The cream sauce, which works well with fish cakes made from other shellfish, makes the dish. In the interest of our own bottom line, we followed Ranhofer’s recipe but substituted shrimp for lobster. It was wonderful we know why the clientele at Delmonico’s made such a fuss when they couldn’t have their Newburg.


What is Lobster Newberg? - Recipes

National Lobster Newburg Day is March 25th, National Crab Newburg Day is September 25th.

This article celebrates both of them


WHAT IS SEAFOOD NEWBURG?

Newburg or Newberg is very rich sauce of butter, cream, egg yolks, cognac, sherry, cayenne pepper and nutmeg, to which cooked shellfish—crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp—is added, alone or in combination.

It is creamed seafood in fact, in French, the dish Lobster Newburg is called homard sauté à la crème (lobster sautéed in cream).

Some sources credit M. Pascal, a chef of the once-famous Delmonico Restaurant* in New York City, with its creation, saying that it was originally named after Mr. Ben Wenburg, a frequent guest at the restaurant.

According to Wikipedia, however, the dish was invented by Ben Wenberg himself, a sea captain in the fruit trade. In 1876 he demonstrated the dish to Charles Delmonico, the restaurant’s manager.

After some tweaking by the chef, Charles Ranhofer, Lobster à la Wenberg was added to the menu and became very popular (it is exquisite!).

Mr. Wenburg and the manager subsequently quarreled, and Wenburg demanded that his name be removed. The first three letters of his name were reversed to “New” to create the now-famous Newburg sauce.

Ah, how short-sighted of you, Mr. Wenburg. How many of us refuse the opportunity to enter culinary history?

In Chef Ranhofer’s printed recipe of 1894, the lobsters were boiled for twenty-five minutes, then fried in clarified butter, then simmered in cream while it reduced by half, then brought again to the boil after the addition of Madeira.

A far simpler contemporary recipe is below. You can use with any seafood, including crab, lobster, scallops or shrimp.


THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LOBSTER NEWBURG & LOBSTER THERMIDOR

Lobster Newburg is related to Lobster Thermidor, a similar dish that involves lobster meat cooked with eggs, cognac, and sherry that appeared in the 1890s.

The dishes are so similar—seafood in cream sauce—that they are often confused for each other. The principal difference is the sauce.


There are numerous variations on the theme of seafood Newburg. Mushrooms, onions and tomato paste can be added paprika can be substituted for nutmeg (we prefer the nutmeg).

Here’s the first recipe we made, adapted from Fanny Farmer.

Depending on how large you like your portions, it can be a first course for 4 or a main course for 2. Mushrooms can “stretch out” the recipe for additional servings, and lower the cost of the dish.


RECIPE: SEAFOOD NEWBURG


Preparation

1. SLICE the cooked seafood as needed. Cook with the butter for 3 minutes in a large non-stick saucepan. If using mushrooms, first sauté in butter then add seafood and additional butter as needed.

2. ADD cream, beaten egg yolks, and seasonings to taste. Stir over low heat until slightly thickened. Add sherry and brandy cook 1 minute more. Serve on toast or puff pastry.


[1] Lobster Newburg served over puff pastry (photo © Mackenzie Ltd.).


[2] Cooked lobster meat, ready for the Newburg treatment (photo © Get Maine Lobster).


[3] You don’t need to use the most expensive crab meat types. Backfin or claw meat is just fine (photo © Phillips Foods).


[4] A cooked whole crab (photo © Mae Mu | Unsplash .

*The original Delmonico’s was operated by the Delmonico family in the Wall Street area of Lower Manhattan, beginning in 1827. Established by Swiss brothers John and Peter Delmonico, the Delmonico presence expanded as other family members opened restaurants using the same name. The original grew into a grand destination, attracting the rich and famous, including visiting royalty. The space still stands at 2 William Street. You can still eat there, although the restaurant is now operated by an unrelated company (here’s the history). The restaurant is credited with Eggs Benedict, Chicken à la King, Delmonico Potatoes, Delmonico steak, Lobster Newburg. Credit is also given for naming Manhattan Clam Chowder, and the name of Baked Alaska.


Lemieux Lobster Newburg Recipe

  • 2 lobsters (around 1½ pounds per lobster)
  • 2 tbs. butter (for sautéing the lobster)
  • 2 tbs. butter (for the white sauce)
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • nutmeg to taste
  • red (cayenne) pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Use approximately one lobster per guest (around one and a half pounds per lobster).
  2. Cook the lobster and pick out the meat. Cut the lobster meat into bite-sized chunks and then place in a frying pan on medium heat with several large chunks of butter. Fry the lobster for about five minutes and then take it off the heat but don’t drain.
  3. In a saucepan, on medium heat, make your basic white sauce. To do this, place 2 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix. Once mixed, add 1 cup of milk and whisk the ingredients until thickened. Add a dash of salt and pepper plus a dash of nutmeg and a dash of red pepper. Take the white sauce off the heat and then add in the lobster (including juice). Note, if you’re cooking lobster Newburg for more than four people, you’ll want to increase the amount of sauce.
  4. Once you have combined the lobster and sauce in the saucepan, cook the lobster Newburg mixture in a double boiler on a very low heat for about two hours so the sauce has a chance to really absorb the flavor of the lobster. The sauce will turn pinkish as it becomes increasingly flavorful.
  5. When it comes time to serve, toast saltine crackers in the oven until crisp and then pour some of the lobster Newburg over the crackers. Spaghetti or linguine are great alternatives to crackers if you so prefer. I usually accompany the dish with peas.

If you are looking for a wine pairing suggestion, I would serve this Lobster Newburg recipe with a Viognier or a White Burgundy, such as a Meurault, Montrachet or Pouilly-Fuisse. Christophe Cordier’s Bourgogne Blanc or Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier are good options. For more wine pairing recommendations, click here.


What is Lobster Newberg? (with pictures)

Lobster Newberg is a rich, creamy seafood dish with a colorful history. Many culinary characters have laid claim to the dish, though it is believed to have first been served in the United States at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City. In addition to freshly boiled lobster, a traditional Lobster Newberg contains butter, cream, and sherry. The sauce is seasoned with cayenne pepper, thickened with egg yolks, and finished with a splash of cognac. It is usually served over toast points or puff pastry shells.

The fame of Lobster Newberg has as much to do with its history as it has to do with the dish itself. According to legend, Lobster Newberg was the creation of a Caribbean fruit trader named Ben Wenberg. While dining at Delmonico’s one evening in 1876, he requested that a chafing dish be brought to his table to demonstrate to owner Charles Delmonico the preparation of a lobster dish he had discovered in his travels. It was an instant hit and was added to Delmonico’s menu as Lobster à la Wenberg, with minor modifications to the recipe by chef Charles Ranhofer.

Some time later, Ben Wenberg was involved in an altercation with Charles Delmonico, and the angry proprietor removed his signature dish from the menu. Patrons who loved the dish continued to request it, so it was reinstated to the menu under the modified name Lobster Newberg. To this day, it remains one of the most popular dishes on the menu, and 25 March has been declared Lobster Newberg Day at Delmonico’s.

In 1894, chef Charles Ranhofer published a recipe for Lobster Newberg in his cookbook, "The Epicurean." Similar recipes appear in other French cookbooks as Homard Sauté à la Crème. Lobster Newberg is also called Lobster Delmonico’s and Lobster à la Newberg. It may also be spelled Newburg. Lobster Thermidor is also considered a variation on the dish.

Regardless of the famed Delmonico’s story, the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania, is also cited as the origin of Lobster Newberg. The hotel was built in 1852 by Louis Fauchere, a former chef at Delmonico’s. The hotel was established 24 years before Ben Wenberg’s tableside demonstration at Delmonico’s however, some historical literature still claims that Fauchere invented the dish.

Many contemporary restaurants feature Lobster Newberg on their menus. Variations such as Seafood Newberg, Shrimp Newberg and Crab Newberg are also popular. Some variations are even made with fish and chicken.