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How to Cook Lobster

Learn how to cook lobster tail like a pro each time at home. This post breaks down 8 ways to prepare the delicate shellfish and shows you how to perfectly season it.

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

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Lobster is definitely a treat with its sweet taste and tender texture. This yummy shellfish reminds me of two things: summer and Christmas.

I know, I know. Polar opposites. But we almost always get fresh lobster at the beach in the summer and we often have lobster as part of our Christmas Eve feast along with this Christmas Eve shrimp scampi.

But you can enjoy lobster at home! No need for a special occasion or a trip to beach. This seafood is shockingly easy to cook and so versatile. 

And so I present to you… every possible way you could cook lobster.

How to Thaw Frozen Lobster Tails

Start by thawing frozen lobster tail in a bowl of water.

Thaw frozen lobster in water.

Thawing frozen tails is so easy. To thaw, just pop frozen tails in the fridge overnight. 

Need them faster? No sweat! Put them in a bowl full of cold water. Small tails should thaw in 30 minutes. For larger tails, drain the water after 30 minutes and fill again. Let them sit for another 30 minutes.

How to Butterfly Lobster Tails

For most cooking methods, you need to prepare your lobster tail. Most of the time, this means butterflying the tails. To do this:

  1. Cut a slit down the center of tail lengthwise. Kitchen sheers make this easiest.

    To butterfly lobster tail, cut the middle of the tail with kitchen sheers

    To butterfly lobster tail, cut the middle of the tail with kitchen sheers

  2. Pull the shell open where you’ve cut and gently pull the meat out of the shell, through the slit. Leave the tail connected to the shell unless you need to discard it for the recipe.

    Pull the meat through the tail.

    Pull the meat through the tail.

  3. Set the meat on top of the tail and gently push the shell together.

    Set the meat on top of the tail's shell.

    Set the meat on top of the tail’s shell.

That’s it! 

What’s the stuff in the middle of the tail?

Lobster tails ready to cook

Lobster tails ready to cook

That delightful stuff is the lobster’s digestive tract. Use a pairing knife to remove it, similar to the way you would devein a shrimp.

Cooking Methods

Boil

Bring the lwater to a boil and add the lobster

Getting ready to add lobster tail to boiling water

Boiling it is one of the easier methods to cook lobster. You can also partially boil lobster to finish off by broiling, grilling or sauteing.

To boil lobster, fill a large pot up with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the lobster tails and let them boil until the shells are bright red, about a minute per ounce. 

Pros:

  • Easy, no butterflying necessary.
  • The meat will be moist.
  • Hard to overcook.

Cons:

  • Boiling can result in less flavorful, watery lobster.

Steaming

Like boiling, steaming is very easy. Start by butterflying the lobster. Next, fill a deep skillet or large pot with an inch of water. Make sure the skillet or the pot has a tightly fitting lid. Bring it to a boil. Then set the lobster, cut side up, in a steamer basket and set the steamer basket over the water. Cover the pot and let steam for 5 to 6 minutes. The meat will be opaque and slightly plump when done.

Pros:

  • Easy.
  • Hard to overcook.
  • Will be moist unless you cook it for too long.

Cons:

  • More work than boiling with a similar flavor.
  • Can result in a less flavorful tail.

Bake

Baking lobster in the oven results in delicious meat.

Lobster tails topped with butter and lemon ready to bake

Baking is a little more complicated than boiling but not much. Before you bake them, you’ll generally need to either cut the shell in half legnthwise or butterfly the tails. Then, spread them on a lined baking sheet. Season them lightly with sea salt and pepper. Then squeeze a lemon wedge and place a couple of tablespoons of butter on top of the tail. Cover with foil and bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes. 

This is how I make it for brown butter lobster pasta

Pros:

  • Better tasting than boiled lobster.
  • Great way to add other flavors like white wine, lemon or butter.
  • Easy.
  • Don’t have to be hands on or actively involved while the lobster is baking leaving you free to put together a side dish or, you know, sit down with a glass of wine.

Cons:

  • Slightly more prep.
  • Can overcook and dry out if you aren’t careful.

Broil

Broiling adds a new layer of flavor to lobster tail

Broiled lobster tail is done when it is opaque and slightly caramelized on the edges

Broiling is similar to baking lobster in the preparation. You need to butterfly the tail and have the opportunity to add some extra flavor if you want to the tails. However, instead of covering the tails with foil, leave them uncovered and place them on a baking sheet. Move the rack up to the top slot and put the tray in. Turn the broiler and broil for about a minute an ounce. 

TIP: WATCH THE TAILS VERY CAREFULLY. THEY WILL OVERCOOK AND DRY OUT QUICKLY.

Pros:

  • Delicious.
  • Broiling slightly browns the tails and adds a new depth of flavor.

Cons:

  • Can go from yum to rubbery, tough and dry if you don’t watch them carefully.
  • You have to pay close attention during the broiling process or you will burn them or overcook them.

Saute

Butterflied Lobster Tail

Butterflying lobster tail makes it easy to saute

Sauteing it gives you results similar to shrimp scampi. You can saute raw lobster tails in butter until cooked or you can finish off cooked lobster by sauteing in butter or wine.  

To do it, butterfly the tails. Then heat 2 tablespoons butter and oil in a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Put the lobster cut side down on the pan, for around 2 minutes to let the edges get golden. Then flip them over. Cover the skillet and cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until shells are bright red and meat is opaque.

Feel free to add a splash of white wine, garlic, or lemon to your pan when you cook the tails.

Pros:

  • SERIOUSLY DELICIOUS.
  • Lots of opportunity to add moisture.
  • Easy to add flavor.
  • Tough to burn.
  • Fast and simple.

Cons:

  • You need oil or butter so if you don’t want to splurge, this isn’t for you.
  • It’s not a good idea to walk away during the cooking process or you could over cook it.
  • The method might not be for you if you want a hands off method.

Grill

Beautifully cooked lobster tails are such a treat at home.

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

Grilling lobster tail gives the meat a lovely smokey flavor and slightly caramelizes it. To grill it, you will need to cut the shell. You can either cut the tail in half lengthwise or you can just cut the shell down the center to expose the flesh the way you would if you were butterflying it. Just don’t pull the meat out the way you would if you were butterflying.

To grill, brush the tails liberally with melted butter or olive oil and season them with a little salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon if desired. Then grill the tails with the cut side down over medium to medium high heat for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the shells should be bright red. Then flip the tails over and grill for another 4 minutes or so or until the meat is opaque.

Pros:

  • Lots of flavor
  • Fantastic for summer 

Cons:

  • A little prep work
  • Might want to put a skewer through the tail in order to grill it
  • One of the easier ways to burn it or unevenly cook it depending on the type of grill you have

Instant Pot

Some people swear by the Instant Pot for cooking everything including shellfish. To make a pressure cooker lobster tail, start with thawed tails. Butterfly them as described above and put them on the trivet. Put the into the inner liner of the Instant Pot and pour a cup of water in the basket. Place a few lemon slices and peeled garlic cloves over the lobster tails. Secure the lid and make sure the vent is set to sealing. Pressure cook them on manual for 2 minutes. When the Pot beeps, do a quick release. Once the pressure has released, open the lid and let the tails sit in the pot with the lid off for another 2 minutes to make sure they are fully cooked.

Pros:

  • If you’re an Instant Pot fan, you can use the Pot to make lobster.

Cons:

  • Lobster is super delicate so you have to be very careful not to let it sit too long in the Pot after you cook. 
  • The Instant Pot tends to dilute flavors a bit similar to steaming or boiling. This can result in less flavorful meat.
  • The ring of your Pot might hold the scent of shellfish. You can buy replacement rings here.

Air Fryer

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

Air fryers are another hugely popular kitchen gadget. Air fryer lobster will taste much closer to baked or broiled lobster tail than it will to steamed or boiled lobster. To make it in the air fryer, butterfly the tails and brush them liberally with lemon garlic butter. Put them in the air fryer basket and set the basket in your fryer. Then let them cook for 4 minutes. Take the basket out and flip them after 4 minutes. Return the basket and let them cook for another 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the tails. The meat will be opaque when done.

Pros:

  • A tasty quick way to cook lobster
  • Don’t have to heat up the oven if you want that baked taste

Cons:

  • Might leave a lingering scent in your air fryer
  • Harder to monitor unless you have a fryer with a clear door to allow you to see in

How to Season

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile or made any of my recipes, you know I am a huge fan of adding lots of layers of flavor and seasoning to my food.

BUT…

This is a case where less is more. I will pair sweet, delicate lobster meat with:

  • butter
  • garlic (but just a clove- not my normal truckload)
  • white wine
  • sea salt and maybe pepper
  • lemon
  • possibly parsley

For everything but butter I keep the seasoning to a minimum to let the delicate flavor of the meat shine through.

What to Serve with It

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

This is the fun part! You can serve it with any side dish you want. Classic sides for lobster include:

If you want to fancy it up you could pair it with:

Oh and don’t forget about using cooked lobster in recipes like seafood scampi, lobster mac and cheese, lobster rolls or lobster mashed potatoes. All of those get a big yum!

The next time you want to enjoy delicious seafood right at home, don’t fret! Use this guide on how to cook lobster to prepare yours like a gourmet chef each and every time.

Did you make lobster using my post? Let me know how it turned out and leave me a comment below or find me on Facebook or Instagram @seasonedsprinkles.

 

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Learn How to Cook Lobster Tail Like a Pro!

How to Cook Lobster


  • Author: jfletcher

Description

Learn how to cook lobster tail like a pro each time at home. This post breaks down 8 ways to prepare the delicate shellfish and shows you how to perfectly season it.


Ingredients

Scale

Each method assumes 2-4 4 ounce lobster tails

Additional ingredients for each recipe:

Boiling

  • water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Steaming

  • water

Baking/Broiling

  • 12 tablespoons of butter per tail
  • 1 slice of lemon per tail
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauteing

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove pressed garlic (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite white wine (optional)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Grill

  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter or olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon (optional)

Instant Pot

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 peeled garlic cloves

Air Fryer

  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted, or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove pressed garlic
  • 1 squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Boiling

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add in the tails. When they are done, the shells will be bright red and the meat will be opaque. Boiling takes about 1 minute per ounce.

Steaming

Start by butterflying the lobster. Fill a deep skillet or large pot with an inch of water and bring it to a boil. Make sure the skillet or the pot has a tightly fitting lid.  When the water is boiling, set the lobster, cut side up, in a steamer basket and set the steamer basket over the water. Cover the pot and let steam for 5 to 6 minutes. The meat will be opaque and slightly plump when done.

Baking

Butterfly the tails. Then, spread them on a baking sheet lined with foil. Season them lightly with sea salt and pepper. Then squeeze a lemon wedge and place a couple of tablespoons of butter on top of the tail. Cover with foil and bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes or until the meat is opaque.

Broiling

Butterfly the tails and place them on a baking sheet. Add lemon, a tablespoon of butter and a little salt and pepper to each if desired. Move the rack up to the top or second from top slot and put the tray in. Turn the broiler and broil for about a minute an ounce. Watch them closely to make sure they don’t burn.

Saute

Butterfly the tails. Then heat 2 tablespoons each of butter and oil in a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Put the lobster cut side down on the pan, for around 2 minutes to let the edges get golden. Then flip them over. Cover the skillet and cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until shells are bright red and meat is opaque. At the end of the cooking process you can deglaze the pan with a 1/4 cup of your favorite white wine. Let the wine cook down for a minute to cook the alcohol off and then add a squeeze of lemon.

Grill

, you will need to cut the shell. You can either cut the tail in half lengthwise or you can just cut the shell down the center to expose the flesh the way you would if you were butterflying it. Just don’t pull the meat out the way you would if you were butterflying.

To grill, brush the tails liberally with melted butter or olive oil and season them with a little salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon if desired. Then grill the tails with the cut side down over medium to medium high heat for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the shells should be bright red. Then flip the tails over and grill for another 4 minutes or so or until the meat is opaque.

Instant Pot

Butterfly the tails and put them on the steamer basket. Put the steamer basket into the inner liner of the Instant Pot and pour a cup of water in the basket. Place a few lemon slices and peeled garlic cloves over the lobster tails. Secure the lid and make sure the vent is set to sealing. Pressure cook them on manual for 2 minutes. When the Pot beeps, do a quick release. Once the pressure has released, open the lid and let the tails sit in the pot with the lid off for another 2 minutes to make sure they are fully cooked.

Air Fryer

Butterfly the tails. Melt the butter and stir in the pressed garlic and lemon juice. Brush them liberally with lemon garlic butter. Put them in the air fryer basket and set the basket in your fryer. Then let them cook for 4 minutes. Take the basket out and flip them after 4 minutes. Return the basket and let them cook for another 2-4 minutes depending on the size of the tails. The meat will be opaque when done.

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[…] your favorite method to cook the lobster. Not sure how to? I have a post that breaks down exactly how to cook a lobster tail and gives you lots of different options. I recommend baking or grilling but you can certainly boil […]

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