Lobster 101: How To Cook Lobster Tail

Lobster 101: How To Cook Lobster Tail


With a little courage, and a pair of good kitchen shears, there's no lobster tail you can't tackle. It's a lot easier to cook at home than you might think ... and a whole lot less expensive than having a restaurant do it for you. Armed with our favorite lobster tail recipes, tips for what to look for when buying lobster, and some helpful hacks for home-prep, you'll be serving up the most amazing lobster tail dinners in no time. Let's go!


What Is A Lobster Tail? 

For starters, it's actually the fleshy belly of the lobster, not technically a tail. This is where most of the edible meat resides, and it's a lot easier to crack into than the knuckles and claws - which makes it a favorite amongst diners who love lobster, who'd rather not deal with tough and messy work.

Lobster “tail” meat is primarily white, but may contain a pink tint when the lobster is readying to shed. Tails also commonly contain black or green tomalley—otherwise known as the liver—which is considered a delicacy and is totally edible. But you can also wipe or rinse it away after cooking, if you aren’t a fan. 

How To Select Lobster Tails

Should I Get A Cold Or Warm Lobster Tail?

You may have the option of purchasing cold vs. warm water lobster tails. What is a cold water lobster tail? Cold water tails are pricier, due to their intense flavor and tender texture, and hail from places like Novia Scotia and Maine. What is a warm water lobster tail? Warm water lobsters come from Florida, the Caribbean, and Latin America. 

What Size Lobster Tail Is Best? 

If you’re cooking multiple tails at the same time, you’ll want to stay consistent with the size you pick. Tiny tails start at 3 ounces, and can go all the way up to 24!

Should I Buy Fresh Or Frozen Lobster Tails? 

Choosing between frozen vs fresh lobster tails will depend on how quickly you plan to cook. Frozen tails need to be thawed first; put them in a sealed bag and soak in cold water for 30-60 minutes. 

Cooking Lobster Tails

Cooking Time Recommendations For Lobster Tails

Cook times can range anywhere from 3 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of your tails and the cooking method you choose. Seasoning depends on your cooking method as well; while it is preferred to season the meat before cooking, some cooking methods will dictate seasoning timing – such as poaching, when the water is seasoned with salt, and the lobster is seasoned during cooking.

Lobster seasoning is usually very subtle and accentuates the sweet, sea-flavored flesh. Seasoned melted butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and some lemon are really all you need.

How To Bake Lobster Tails

Split top side of lobster tail shells by using kitchen shears to cut straight down the middle towards the fan of the tail. Pull sides of shell apart gently, and carefully lift meat up and out of opening, but do not completely disconnect from end of tail. Squeeze the shell closed, then lay meat on top of the shell over the cut. Brush meat with your favorite seasoned butter to prevent it from drying, and bake.

Prepare baked lobster tails by splitting your tails in half with a chef’s knife. You can also cut the top of the shell down the center and placing the lobster meat on top for an especially swanky presentation. Place in a baking dish with a splash of wine or water and cook at 425F for 1-2 minutes per ounce.


How To Broil Lobster Tails

Make sure to preheat your oven when broiling. cut the tails in half or butterfly them and place the meat on top of the shell. Set on a baking sheet placed about 10-inches away from the broiling element, and cook for about 1 minute per ounce.


How to Grill Lobster Tails

Cut the tails in half down the center or butterfly them and place the meat on top of the shell. Place skewers through the center to prevent the lobster from curling, then cook on a grill over direct medium heat (350-450F) for 1-2 minutes per ounce. With this method it is advised to baste the lobster after cooking to prevent the tender meat from drying out.


How to Steam Lobster Tails

Cut the tails in half down the center or butterfly them and place the meat on top of the shell. Place in a steamer basket, and steam for about 45-60 seconds per ounce.

More Lobster Cooking Tips

Save your favorite lobster recipes and organize your ingredients with our online meal planner. You can also make meal prep simple by creating a Flavor Profile, so you can store your favorite recipes and create grocery lists for easy shopping. 

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