How to Cook Lobster Tail

Learn five ways you can cook the most magnificent lobster tail you’ve ever tasted. I’ll show you all the popular cooking methods, such as steaming, boiling, broiling, baking and grilling.

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Maine lobster is often considered among the most exclusive, elite-type of seafood that most people reserve mostly for special occasions at those fancy, high-end restaurants.

With lobster, the abdomen or tail is considered the most valuable section because it contains the most meat. And when it’s dipped in hot melted butter, lobster is truly a blissful culinary celebration.

lobster tail

Cooked lobster has a slightly briny and sweet taste. This is because their muscle fibers are long and surrounded by tough connective tissue, much like the muscle structure of shrimp and their smaller cousins, crawfish.

And thankfully, despite their tough exterior shells, lobsters are big softies inside, meaning they cook up just as fast as other types of crustaceans and fish. However, if lobster is overcooked, the meat can become rubbery and tough.

Cooking lobster tail at home can seem a bit intimidating, but today you’re going to learn a few easy tips for preparing, seasoning, and cooking lobster using any of the five methods of your choice. Let’s dive right into a few tips below!

The Methods of Cooking Lobster Tail

how to cook lobster tail

  • Grilling: Gives the meat and shell a bit of a smoky flavor and char.
  • Broiling: Browns the meat and shell lightly for deeper flavor.
  • Baking: Produces a more delicate texture as the meat is gently steamed at a consistent temperature.
  • Steaming: Quickly produces a clean flavor and is great for folks who prefer to flavor the meat with toppings.
  • Boiling: Cooks the meat quickly in hot water. However, the flavor does become a bit diluted.

Thawing and Preparing Frozen Lobster Tails

To thaw frozen lobster tails, you can leave them in the refrigerator overnight or immerse them in cold water for a half-hour. If the frozen lobster tail is large, you should drain the water and replace it with fresh after the initial 30 minutes. Keep repeating the process until the flesh is pliable and free of frost.

Wash and dry the tails before beginning to prepare. Once the meat is visible, look for a dark line, which is the digestive tract. To complete the process, remove it and give it a quick rinse.

How to Butterfly Lobster Tails

The most exquisite way to cut and serve a lobster tail is to butterfly it. Carefully slice down the center of the tail and open it up, leaving a small piece of the tail fin connected.

Then, the succulent lobster meat is placed on top of the shell, making it look as if they were never separated.

Seasoning Lobster

Seasoning the lobster can take its flavor to the next level. Before cooking, you can brush the meat with butter and season it with an array of aromatics, such as garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, or your favorite herbs. For grilling, broiling, or steaming, give it an extra layer of flavor by adding spices to the melted butter.

Boil Lobster Tails

Cook whole lobster tails in water that  has been salted and has come to a boil. While boiling does a good job of tenderizing the lobster meat, it can also affect the flavor. So adding salt to the water makes a huge difference.

Steam Lobster Tails

Preparing a lobster using steam is a quick process. The intense heat of the steam cooks it in a matter of mere moments. The succulent meat can be retained in the shell, cut open, or even placed on top.

However, this method doesn’t bring out the lobster’s flavor, so additional seasoning is often necessary.

Bake Lobster Tails

To bake lobster tail, prepare by slicing them in two with a razor-sharp blade. Place the cut flesh on top in an oven-safe dish, sprinkling with a little liquid.

Broil Lobster Tail

Divide the tails in two or split them lengthwise and arrange them on the baking sheet. Place it a short distance away from the broiler’s heat.

The intense heat will give the broiled lobster tail a beautiful golden brown tone. The cooking time is brief, so constantly check for doneness. For every ounce of lobster, it should take approximately a minute.

Grill Lobster Tail

Grilled lobster tails have amazing flavor! Prepare lobster tails by either slicing them in half lengthwise, exposing the tail meat, or splitting them into butterfly shapes with the flesh facing up. To prevent curling, a skewer can be passed through the center.

If butterflied, leave the flesh side up for the duration to give the grilled lobster tail a smoky charred flavor. For incredible flavor, try cooking them on a cedar plank.

How You Can Tell Lobster is Finished Cooking

cooking lobster tails

To ensure the lobster is cooked perfectly, stick a thermometer into the thickest part of the tail and wait for the temperature to reach 135-140ºF.

Once it does, the shell will be a vibrant red, and the flesh will have changed from see-through to white and firmer. Then it’s time to dig in!

Things You Can Serve with Lobster

  • Melted or homemade flavored butter is fantastic for dipping
  • Fresh lemon (cut into wedges)
  • Chopped chives or parsley

Lobster Yield and Selection Post-Cook

After cooking, roughly half of a lobster tail’s weight is actual edible flesh. Generally, bigger tails indicate more meat, although the yield can vary depending on the season. For a single serving, 3-10 ounces is a perfect size.

how to cook lobster

cooking lobster tails

How to Cook Lobster Tail

Enjoy these amazing lobster tail recipes.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 74 kcal

Equipment

  • Instant-Read Thermometer
  • Sharpened Kitchen Shears

Ingredients
  

Baked Lobster Tails

  • 4 fresh or frozen lobster tails
  • ½ white wine or water
  • 2 tbsp unsalted melted butter
  • Kosher salt seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper seasoning
  • Paprika optional seasoning

Boiled Lobster Tails

  • 4 fresh or frozen lobster tails
  • 2 qt of water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Steamed Lobster Tails

  • 4 fresh or frozen lobster tails

Grilled Lobster Tails

  • 4 fresh or frozen lobster tails
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper seasoning
  • Paprika optional seasoning

Broiled Lobster Tails

  • 4 fresh or frozen lobster tails
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper seasoning
  • Paprika optional seasoning
  • Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce Optional Topping
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp finely minced garlic
  • tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions
 

Defrosting Lobster Tails

  • Allow the tails to thaw slowly in the refrigerator for several hours, then give them a quick rinse with chilly water and blot them dry with a paper towel.
  • To thaw your lobster tails quickly, submerge them in a bowl of refreshing water for half an hour. If your tails are extra large, pour out the water and replace it after the initial 30 minutes and leave them in the bowl until their flesh is pliable and no longer icy cold.

Butterflying Lobster Tails

  • A delightful combination of culinary showmanship, this dish showcases the main ingredient atop a bed of its own shell. This presentation works well with any method of cooking except broiling.
  • Using sharpened kitchen shears, carefully slice the top of the shell open, starting from the meaty area and going to the tip of its tail. Be careful not to cut too far, as you want to leave the tail fin intact.
  • Get rid of any intestinal tract left in the tail and discard it. Clean the tail using cold water, making sure to dry it off completely.
  • Gently flip the lobster tail upside down, its underside facing you. Using your thumbs, press the ribcage to crack it. This will allow easy access to the succulent inner meat.
  • Open up the shell of your crustacean delicacy by starting at the broad bottom of the tail. Gently slip your fingers between the meat and hard carapace to free it. Carefully raise the meat, still attached at the tail end, away from its protective shell. Rest the lobster meat atop its shell.

Boiling Lobster Tails

  • Fill a pot with a generous amount of salt water and place the lobster tails within. With the tails submerged, bring the brew to a boil.
  • Bring the water to a rolling boil, then carefully place the lobster tails in the bubbling pot. The key word here is "carefully."
  • Simmer the meat until it is cooked through and its color turns from a deep red to a delicate pinkish-white. The lobster shells will also become a vibrant shade of red. This process should take roughly one minute for every ounce.
  • Drain the pot and allow the lobster tails to cool slightly before you open up the shells and remove the meat. Now you can add your favorite seasonings.

Steaming Lobster Tails

  • Pour about 2 inches of water into the pot and bring it to a vigorous boil. Place the steamer basket atop the bubbling water, allowing the steam to cook the ingredients inside.
  • Heat the water to a boil, and when the vapors start to swirl, place lobster tails in the pot, making sure not to overcrowd them. If need be, you can work in sections.
  • Simmer the meat until it reaches a blush-white hue and the edges of the shell are a vibrant red which should take 45-60 seconds. Monitor the cooking process closely - cook too long, and you'll end up with overcooked lobster meat. Once it has reached the ideal color, take them out, let them cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle in your favorite seasonings for a flavorful finish.

Baking Lobster Tails

  • Adjust the oven rack to the center and turn up the heat to 425ºF.
  • Brush your lobster tails with a coating of melted butter and flavor it with a pinch of salt and pepper. You can also add a dash of paprika for a spicy kick if that's how you roll.
  • Fill a baking dish with succulent lobster tails and pour in a half cup of fluid- be it water or white wine - to cover the bottom of the pan. Give the tails a gentle bath in the fluid while creating a tantalizing aroma.
  • Cook your lobster tails until the meat's texture is firm and its hue is a delicate rosy-white, approximately 1-2 minutes for each ounce.

Grilling Lobster Tails

  • Ignite the grill and set the temperature between 350-400°F.
  • Clean your grill, then grease the grates with oil.
  • Brush lobster with your melted butter, then season with pepper, salt, and any other seasonings, such as paprika.
  • Grill the lobster halves with the flesh facing down on the heat for a few minutes until it is lightly browned. Then, flip them over and cook until the meat turns a pinkish-white hue.
  • If you're grilling butterflied lobster tail, place it on the grill with the flesh side facing up. Cook until it turns a pinkish-white hue. This usually takes no less than 10 minutes. For bigger tails, a longer cooking time may be required.

Lemon Garlic Butter Recipe

  • Place a few cubes of butter in a small bowl and microwave, stopping every 30 seconds to stir the contents until it fully melts. You can melt your butter using a small pot on a stovetop.
  • After the butter melts, whisk in salt, garlic, pepper, lemon juice, and paprika.
  • Serve as a side dipping sauce with your cooked lobster tails.

Notes

For an in-the-shell presentation, use kitchen shears to snip off the top of the lobster tail, stopping right before you reach the fin.
To cut the tail in half, take a chef’s knife and slice it lengthwise down the middle so that you have two portions.
Make sure to take out the darkly-veined digestive tract before you rinse and dry the tail in preparation for cooking.
To ensure the lobster is cooked thoroughly, the internal temperature should reach between 135-140ºF. The exact cook time will vary depending on the method used and the lobster size.

Nutrition

Calories: 74kcalProtein: 10gFat: 3gCholesterol: 88mg
Keyword how to cook lobster tail, lobster tail, lobster tail recipe
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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