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The Internet's Favorite New Pasta Recipe Incorporates One Trader Joe's Staple That's Too Genius For Words

If you still don't know what to cook for your next date night, this viral recipe is well worth the hype — and way cheaper than a night out.

These days, my husband and I usually choose to cook at home rather than go out to dinner. Restaurants have become so wildly expensive that we love eating at home more than ever. So I'm constantly on the lookout for date night recipes that are affordable, simple enough to make at home, and feel extra special.

The dogs from "Lady and the Tramp" sharing pasta

So as I was searching for the perfect meal to cook, one popped up over and over on my Instagram and TikTok feeds: five-ingredient Trader Joe's "lobster pasta." I first saw this recipe posted by @traderjoes5itemsorless, an Instagram account that I love and reference often for dinner inspo.

There are iterations of this same recipe all over the internet. It seemed super indulgent, simple, affordable, and delicious. So naturally, I wanted to try it out to see if it lived up to the hype. Could this be the perfect budget-friendly date-night dinner?


VIRAL TRADER JOE'S LOBSTER BISQUE PASTA! 🦞🍝 You only need 5 ingredients: lobster bisque, pasta, Argentinian red shrimp OR langostino tails, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil. DIRECTIONS: Thaw shrimp and cut in bite size pieces. Cook tomatoes in olive oil until they begin to burst. Add shrimp to pan, season with salt, peoper and red pepper flakes and cook through. Remove tomatoes and shrimp from pan and add lobster bisque until heated through. Add your cooked pasta (or no boil noodles) to the pan then add back in shrimp and tomatoes. Mix together, top with fresh basil and enjoy! #seafoodnetwork#seafoodlover#seafood

♬ original sound - Seafood Network
@seafood_network / Via

Lobster is incredibly delicious and perfect for special occasions, but I'm not sure who needs to hear this — it's a luxury. It's quite expensive! Here is a portion of fresh lobster meat that I found for just under $80 a pound. Ouch!

A small portion of lobster meat

But as the internet has discovered, Trader Joe's sells bags of frozen langostino tails for just under $15. This happens to be one of the pricier items you can find at TJ's, but it contains a whole lot of shellfish — 12 ounces, to be exact. Langostino (or langoustine) is basically a slightly smaller but very close cousin to lobster. In terms of taste and texture, it's nearly identical, if you ask me, but it's a quarter of the price of fresh lobster meat.

Thawed langostino meat in a bowl

So off to Trader Joe's I went... Some people on TikTok are using Trader Joe's Argentinian red shrimp in place of the langostino because they're a bit cheaper. I happen to be a huge fan of the red shrimp, and they are a staple in my freezer, so I heavily support the motion. I, however, wanted to try out the langostino.

Let's talk pasta, too. You can obviously pick any pasta shape you like best. IMO, a shorter, thicker noodle is essential for any creamy pasta sauce. It sticks to the crevices and sops up the sauce better than a longer shape, like pappardelle or spaghetti. I'm usually a rigatoni girl, but I wanted to try the gigli (mostly because I love saying the name).

A bowl of cooked pasta

As you can see from my receipt, all the ingredients you need to make this meal at home cost me $29.35. This may be pricier than what you'd tend to spend for an everyday dinner at home, but if you consider what a special-occasion meal at a restaurant would cost, this feels like a bargain.

A Trader Joe's receipt

I used roughly 8 ounces of pasta, half a 12-ounce bag of precooked langostino tails, three-quarters of a container of lobster bisque soup, and a big ol' handful of cherry tomatoes. This easily fed two people. For non–date nights, you could serve four people by using the entire bags of langostino tails and pasta. Either way, you can easily whip up this recipe in about 20 minutes.

Langostino tails, tomatoes, lobster bisque, pasta, and basil

Before we get onto the cooking, a word on Trader Joe's lobster bisque soup. A container of this stuff costs $5, so I wouldn't go into it expecting a generous portion of lobster meat. My bisque had very tiny bits of lobster throughout, with one or two noticeable chunks. For this reason, I started to see why it could function better as a pasta sauce than a standalone soup...

I gathered my ingredients and started cooking. Start by thawing the langostino tails under some cool water and boiling the pasta. Grab some olive oil from your pantry and sauté the cherry tomatoes until they're soft and juicy. Then add the defrosted langostino. I also added some salt and pepper.

I hope we can all agree that pasta should always be cooked al dente. Be sure to undercook it, because the noodles will briefly continue cooking in the bisque. Add the cooked pasta to the tomato and langostino, pour in the bisque, and stir it all up so the pasta is nicely coated. I let everything simmer for another minute or so.

Transfer the pasta to a bowl and garnish with basil (you could also add the Parmesan at this point). I added a little more salt and pepper for good measure.

Lobster pasta with tomato and basil

As for the consensus? I would 1,000% make this again. It was extremely good and decadent. Plus, it was so easy to make and really did taste restaurant quality. With just these five ingredients, this recipe is a keeper, but I think you could add a few more ingredients to really take it to the next level. I would add a little lemon juice for acidity, maybe some toasted bread crumbs on top, and perhaps some sautéed garlic and shallot for a little more flavor.

Losbter pasta cooking

If you still don't know what to cook for your next special dinner, this viral recipe is well worth the hype — and way cheaper than a night out. It would be difficult to screw up, it comes together with minimal effort, it's an affordable riff on an otherwise expensive meal, and it's really quite tasty. So give this one a go when you want to cook something above the ordinary.

A close-up of lobster pasta