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How to Cook Lobster Tails

Posted by JES Team on 8/20/2021
How to Cook Lobster Tails

When it comes to special occasions, lobster tails are an indulgent entrée that is hard to top. There are many ways to prepare this dish, all of them equally delicious. However, they each bring different nuances to the flavor of the lobster

How to Prepare Lobster Tails for Cooking

Whole tails need to be rinsed off and dried prior to cooking. As you cut open the shell, you may see a dark line down the center. That’s the lobster’s digestive tract, and it should be removed. Wash and dry the lobster after cleaning.

To Butterfly or Not to Butterfly

When cooking lobster tails, butterflying is an impressive and elegant way to serve them. Make a cut down the center of the tail, open the shell up and pull out the meat, making sure that you leave a small part attached to the tail fin.

Then lay the meat on top of the shell. After the lobster is cooked, it will look as if the meat and shell have been reconnected, with the meat beautifully displayed on top. Not only is this a gorgeous presentation, but it also makes the meat easier to season and eat. If you boil the lobster to use the meat in dishes such as seafood lasagna, you don’t need to butterfly it.

Serving Suggestions for Lobster Tails

Garnish with fresh lemon wedges and chopped parsley, chives, or cilantro, and serve with butter for dipping.

Suggested lobster butter flavors:

  • Clarified butter
  • Garlic butter
  • Thai chili butter

When to Season Lobster Tails

You can season the lobster before or after it is cooked, or both, depending on the cooking method you use. When grilling, broiling, or steaming, brush the lobster meat with melted butter and lightly season with the classic combo of salt, pepper, and paprika, or any other seasoning of your choosing. For boiled lobster, simply serve with seasoned melted butter and a few lemon wedges or a lemon crown if you want to be super fancy.

When thinking about how to cook lobster tails, consider the factors above when choosing one of the five cooking methods below.

How to Broil Lobster Tails

Butterfly the lobster tails or cut them in half. Place the tails on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet in the oven about 10 inches from the broiler. The high heat of the broiler will lightly brown the meat and shell, adding layers of flavor.

The broiler cooks the meat extremely fast, so check frequently for doneness, based on the size of the lobster. Cooking time should be about 1 minute per ounce.

How to Bake Lobster Tails

Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Halve and clean the lobster tails or butterfly them for a fancier presentation. Cook them in the oven in a baking dish with a little bit of wine or water, your preference.

The liquid at the bottom of the pan gently steams the lobster meat, giving it an almost poached-like, tender texture. This is a great way to cook large lobster tails that benefit from a longer, gentler cooking method. Allow approximately 1-2 minutes for each ounce to ensure they are fully cooked.

How to Boil Lobster Tails

Boiling an uncut lobster tail water tenderizes the flesh but can dilute some brininess, so adding salt to the water is key to avoid this. You can also use this method to par-cook a lobster before broiling or grilling so that the meat cooks evenly and isn’t overcooked.

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the lobster tails. When the water begins to boil, add the lobster tails. Cook until the lobster meat becomes translucent, pink-white, and the shells turn red, this should take approximately a minute for each ounce of lobster. Remove from pot and let cool slightly, then remove the meat from the shell.

How to Steam Lobster Tails

With the steaming method, superheated moist air quickly cooks the lobster. The high heat makes it easy to remove the lobster meat from the shell. However, the meat is less flavorful, and seasoning after cooking is vital. It is a good method to use if you want a more neutral flavor and will be adding the meat to dips and salads where the seasoning will take center stage.

Place a steam basket in a large pot, so there is enough room for the steam to circulate. The lobster tails should not be submerged in water. Fill the pot with cold water about two inches deep. Cover and bring the pot to a boil. Add the lobster tails and cover. The lobsters take approximately 45-60 seconds per ounce to cook.

How to Grill Lobster Tails

Prepare the lobster tails using one of the two methods discussed and place a skewer through the halved tails to keep them from curling up and ensure even cooking. Preheat the grill and brush with oil. Cook the lobster tails over medium heat (350-400° F), cut side down for about 4-5 minutes, then turn over and finish cooking on the other side.

If the lobster is butterflied, cook it with the cut side up the entire time. This method gives the lobster a delicious smoky flavor.

When Is a Lobster Tail Done?

The best way to check when a lobster is done is to insert a meat thermometer midway into the thickest part of the tail. The lobster is ready when the thermometer reads 135-140° Fahrenheit. The shell should turn bright red, and the flesh will change from translucent to opaque pink-white and will be firm to the touch.


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