What Is The Best Way to Cook Lobster Tail?

Linda Johnson Larsen
Grilled lobster tails

Many people love lobster, but most don't serve it at home since they don't have a sure-fire way to prepare it, preferring to go to a fancy restaurant instead. But you can serve lobster tail at home for a special meal with a few tips and tricks as it is quite versatile.

Preparing Lobster Tail for Best Results

Lobster tails in pan

Whether you choose to steam lobster, poach it, bake it, boil it, or cook it on the grill, this wonderful seafood will turn a regular meal into a gourmet affair. As long as you follow the recipe instructions properly - specifically the cooking time and temperature - the lobster will be juicy, flavorful, and tender.

Selecting the Right Lobster

Lobster tails are not actually the tails of the kind of lobster served whole. The tails are really the abdomen of the Caribbean spiny lobster. This type of seafood is almost always sold frozen to preserve the meat. You can find frozen lobster tails at most large supermarkets. You may have to order them in advance; ask the butcher. Fresh lobster tails are usually only sold in areas where lobsters are harvested since the meat must be cooked and eaten within 24 hours after the tail has been processed.

Thawing Method

Thaw frozen lobster tails for at least six hours in the refrigerator to make sure the meat is as tender as possible. Or you can put the frozen tails, sealed into a plastic bag, into cold water. Let thaw for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, changing the water every 15 to 20 minutes. The tails are thawed once they are flexible. Once the tails are thawed, experiment with these cooking methods to find the one you like best.

Boiled Lobster Tails

Boiled lobster tail

Boiling is one of the easiest ways to prepare this seafood and LobsterAnywhere agrees. This is the best method to use if you have fresh lobster tails as it will preserve the flavor. Cooking in water helps keep the lobster moist, but overcooking will make it tough.

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and add a few teaspoons of salt.
  2. Add lobster tails one at a time, making sure you don't overcrowd the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Lower heat to medium and cook for one minute per ounce (e.g. six ounce lobster tails should cook for six minutes). The lobster is done when the flesh is white and opaque.
  5. Remove lobster tails from the water using tongs. Make sure you drain each tail over the pot as you remove it from the water. Let the tails cool for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: To prevent lobster tails from curling while cooking, place a skewer down the middle of the tails.

Broiled Lobster Tails

Cut top of lobster shells lengthwise

This cooking method is considered the most aesthetically pleasing. Tablespoon notes that broiled tails make for great presentation. However, you must watch carefully so the seafood doesn't overcook or burn. If done correctly, this method yields incredibly tender and flavorful meat since the high heat cooks the flesh quickly and the flavor isn't diluted in water.

  1. Preheat the broiler to high.
  2. Place the lobster tails on a medium baking sheet.
  3. With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, carefully cut the top of lobster shells lengthwise.
  4. Pull the shell open slightly and season the meat with salt, pepper, and a few of your favorite herbs and spices. Try dried thyme or basil. Dot each tail with 2 tablespoons butter.
  5. Broil the lobster tails for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the lobster meat is opaque and the butter is melted.

Poached Lobster Tails

Poaching is a more gentle method of boiling lobster. The poaching liquid never reaches a boil, so the lobster cooks more slowly. The meat will be very tender using this method; Food & Wine mentions this technique as well. This is also a great way to add more flavor to the lobster, depending on the poaching liquid used and what else you add to the liquid.

Basic Method

Use broth, stock, or water and ingredients for flavor.

  1. Place 4 cups chicken broth, fish stock, or water in a large skillet.
  2. Add other ingredients such as sprigs of thyme or rosemary, whole peppercorns, lemon slices, celery stalks, garlic cloves, or bay leaves.
  3. Heat the liquid over medium heat. The poaching liquid should not boil, but when the surface of the liquid starts to move, add the lobster.
  4. Poach the lobster for 5 to 7 minutes or until the tails curl and the shells turn bright red.
  5. Remove the lobster from the poaching liquid with tongs, letting any liquid drain out of the shell.
  6. Serve immediately.

Butter Method

Lobster tails poached in butter is one of the most indulgent recipes on the planet. This recipe uses shucked lobster tails. If you aren't comfortable removing the shells yourself, ask the butcher or fishmonger to do it for you. The lobster will be very tender and full of flavor using this cooking method.

  1. Combine 1/4 cup of water and 2 sticks of butter in a large skillet and heat over medium low heat.
  2. When the butter has melted, add 6 shucked lobster tails (thawed if frozen). Do not let the liquid come to a boil.
  3. Cook the lobster for 5 to 6 minutes, then carefully turn each tail. Cook for 1 to 2 minute on the second side.
  4. The lobsters are done when the tails curl and turn a darker color. A meat thermometer should register 145°F.

Grilled, Baked, and Steamed Lobster Tails

Grilled lobster tail

There are several other cooking methods that will produce great tasting lobster, depending on what your preference.

  • You can grill lobster tails to impart a smoky flavor to the meat notes LobsterAnywhere. This is another very quick cooking method that helps retain the flavor of the meat, but the meat will be drier than other cooking methods. If you bake or grill the lobster, split the top of the shell using a sharp kitchen knife so the shell doesn't crack in the heat, and parboil the lobster for 2 minutes before you put the tails on the grill.
  • Baking lobster tails is the easiest preparation method; Lobstergram notes how quick and simple it is. The lobster will be sweet and tender, but will be less juicy than if the lobster is steamed or poached.
  • If you own a steamer or have a steamer insert for a large skillet, try steaming the lobster. This gentle cooking method will ensure that the lobster will not be tough, as Maine Lobster mentions. It retains flavor best.

Additional Tips

Follow helpful tips to make and serve lobster with gusto.

  • Serve the lobster tails with melted butter and a few wedges of fresh lemon. Put about 3 to 4 tablespoons melted butter into a ramekin and give one to each of your guests.
  • Seafood forks are a nice touch to serve with lobster tails, since they will help your guests remove the meat from the shell.
  • Pay attention to instructions given to you about preparing fresh lobster tail. If this seafood isn't cooked promptly, bacteria can grow that can make you sick.
  • Always remove any leftover lobster meat from the shell and refrigerate it promptly. You can freeze cooked lobster; thaw it in the refrigerator before use.

Everyday Delicacy

Don't wait for a special occasion to experiment with lobster tail recipes. Cooking lobster tails is fast and simple. What's more, they are extremely versatile. They can be coupled with steak to make a succulent surf and turf dinner, chopped up and tossed into a lobster salad, or simply enjoyed with lemon wedges and side of melted butter.

What Is The Best Way to Cook Lobster Tail?