How to Cook Lobster Tails: Boil, Bake, Broil, Steam and Grill

You’ll be living the champagne life and feel like a superhero when you learn the art of cooking lobster tails. Learning how to prepare lobster tails at home can elevate your culinary skills and allow you to indulge in this exquisite seafood without a trip to a fancy restaurant. In this guide, we’ll give you the five best methods for cooking lobster tails, including boiling, baking, broiling, steaming, and grilling. Let’s dive in.

How to Cook Frozen Lobster Tails

How to Thaw Frozen Lobster Tails

Before cooking lobster tails, it’s important to know how to thaw frozen lobster tails. For the best results, we recommend the slow-thawing method. Knowing how to defrost lobster tails properly will set you up for success every time.

To achieve this, take your frozen lobster tails out of the freezer a night before your planned meal and place them on either a plate or baking sheet in the refrigerator, making sure they’re covered. This method of thawing lobster tails is slow, gentle, and controlled, keeping the meat tender. In addition, it also keeps the meat from absorbing excess water like other methods.

If you’re short on time, you can opt for a quicker defrost by placing the tails in a zip-lock bag under cold water (never use hot water) in the sink. You can also place the bag in a bowl of cool water, changing out the water every 15-30 minutes until defrosted. Never thaw your lobster tails in the microwave.

Once completely thawed, your lobster tails should feel soft and pliable. Don’t worry if they appear to be covered in ice or frost – this is a protective glazing that preserves the tails.

How to Clean Lobster Tails

After you have thawed your lobster tails you will need to clean them. Regardless of how you cut your lobster tails and how you decide how to cook lobster tails, the cleaning method will be the same. After you have rinsed the shells and chosen how to split your lobster tail and exposed the flesh, you’ll need to remove the vein running down the center. This long, thin vein is the lobster’s digestive tract, similar to the vein in shrimp.

While it’s safe to eat, it doesn’t enhance the flavor and can create a grainy texture. Additionally, keep an eye out for roe (eggs) near the top of the tail and make sure they are thoroughly cleaned. You can either reserve them or discard them depending upon your preference.

The easiest and most efficient way to remove this vein is with the tip of a paring knife. Simply slide the knife under the vein to help ease it away from the meat. Give the flesh another quick rinse. Remember, the color of the tail, whether red or pinkish, is inconsequential to taste or quality; it simply denotes the lobster’s gender.

Different Ways of Cooking Lobster Tails

How you cut your lobster tails can help you decide on the best method of how to cook your lobster tails. Some different ways lend themselves to different methods of cooking. The piggyback method which is one of the most popular works well with everything from a baked lobster tails recipe to a broiled lobster tail recipe. Below are some of the most popular ways of how to cut lobster tails. Just like there’s no wrong way in how to eat lobster tail, from dunked in butter to adding a boost of flavor to risotto, there’s no wrong answer in deciding your preferred way for cooking lobster tails.

How to Piggyback a Lobster Tail

Piggybacking a lobster tail is a technique that showcases the meat elegantly resting atop the shell. This is the preparation most people think of and associate with fine dining and lends itself to pretty much all methods of cooking lobster tails with the exception of boiling. To achieve this presentation, follow these simple steps:

  1. Cut the upper shell down the center using scissors or a chef’s knife.
  2. Leave the under-shell and tail fan attached.
  3. Gently pull apart the shell halves to expose the tail meat.
  4. Lift the tail meat through the split shell, allowing it to rest on top while keeping its connection to the tail fan intact.
  5. Carefully pinch the split shell closed under the meat, returning it to its original position.
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How to Butterfly a Lobster Tail

Butterflying lobster tails are a perfect choice when you seek to infuse smoky flavors through methods like grilling, roasting, broiling, or baking. The flatter surface even allows you to sear the meat if desired when cooking lobster tails on the grill or even a griddle. Here’s how:

  1. Use kitchen shears to cut the upper shell down the center from the big end to where it meets the tail fan, leaving the fan-tail and bottom shell intact.
  2. Gently spread the shell halves apart, revealing the tail meat inside.
  3. Lift the top portion of the meat through the split in the shell, leaving the rest in the partially open shell, resembling wings.

How to Fan-Cut a Lobster Tail

Fan-cutting lobster tails involves slicing the tail off under the shell while leaving the tail fan intact. Here’s how to fan-cut your tails:

  1. Turn the lobster tail on its back so the thinner, flat, and flexible membrane shell is facing you.
  2. With kitchen scissors, cut lengthwise from the big end to the fan-tail through the thin under-shell edges that connect to the thick back-shell.
  3. Once cut, elevate the under-shell and snip it free where it connects to the tail-fan, preserving the tail-fan in its place.
  4. Loosen the tail meat from inside the back shell, leaving the lobster meat as though it’s nestled in a boat.

How to Split a Lobster Tail

In this method, the lobster tail is completely split in half lengthwise down the middle, yielding two parts, each resting in its split shell. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Turn the lobster tail on its back so the softer under-shell is facing up.
  2. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut lengthwise through the under-shell, fantail, tail meat, and hard shell to create an even and complete split.

How to Remove the Lobster Tail Meat, Whole

If you intend to prepare lobster tail meat in one whole piece for butter poaching or gentle steaming, follow these steps:

  1. Turn the lobster tail on its back, making sure the softer under shell is facing up.
  2. With kitchen shears, create a slit on each side of the back of the tail, from the big end to the fan tail, allowing the entire back membrane piece to peel back.
  3. At the same time, peel the middle of the underside membrane back.
  4. Carefully retract and crack both sides of the shell, gently removing the tail in one whole piece. The cooked lobster meat should be pure white, opaque, and elastic.

How to Cook Lobster Tails

Now that you have cut and cleaned your lobster it’s time to decide the best way for cooking lobster tails. When it comes to the best way to cook lobster tail, it all comes down to personal preference and what your desired finished dish is. If you decide to steam lobster tails, you’ll have more of a pure lobster flavor while air fryer lobster tail might allow you to add additional layers of flavor like an herbaceous compound butter.

Another consideration that may help you decide the best method to prepare your lobster tails is time. How long to cook lobster tails will vary. Using high heat to broil lobster tails will have a feast fit for any celebration on the table in minutes while baked lobster will take a little longer to prepare and cook. So pour your favorite libation and let’s jump into different options of cooking lobster tails.

How to Boil Lobster Tails

Boiling lobster tails is one of the most straightforward methods for cooking them. For optimal results, we suggest you use whole lobster tails or fan-cut lobster tails. This will protect the meat from absorbing too much water and diluting the flavor. This is a great method for cooking a large volume of lobster tails as well as cooking the meat if you plan on using it in other dishes. The steps to boil lobster tails:

  1. Bring a medium to a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure there is sufficient room for the water to circulate.
  2. Place the tails in the boiling water. Once the water reboils, reduce the heat and cook for the specified times based on the size of the tails.
  3. After cooking, you can either use kitchen shears to remove the meat from the shell or split the tails to expose the lobster meat. Enhance the flavor by serving with a delectable lemon butter sauce.

How Long to Boil Lobster Tails

  • L: 6-7 oz. lobster tails: Boil for about 5-6 minutes
  • XL: 8-10 oz. lobster tails: Boil for about 6-8 minutes
  • XXL: 16-20 oz. lobster tails: Boil for about 10 minutes
  • XXXL: 20-24 oz lobster tails: Boil for about 10-12 minutes

Tips for Boiling Lobster Tails

  • For additional flavor add aromatics like bay leaves, lemon halves, fresh thyme, garlic cloves, or halved onions.
  • If desired add your favorite seafood seasoning or sea salt to the water, making sure it dissolves before adding the lobster tails.
  • Don’t over crowd the pot. You want a pot large enough that the water can freely circulate around all of the lobster tails without spilling over.
  • Save those lobster shells! They can be used to make seafood stock.

How to Cook Lobster Tail in the Oven

Get out that baking dish or baking sheet and pour a glass of wine. If you’re searching for an easy way to cook your seafood feast, how to cook lobster tail in oven might be one of the first things you look up. Cooking lobster tails in the oven allows you to add your favorite seasonings, slather on the butter, or keep it more health conscious with olive oil. It’s a versatile option that just requires a little prep at the beginning while being mostly hands off. Unlike broiled lobster tails, you don’t have to keep as close of an eye as they don’t bake at intense heat.

  1. For mouthwatering oven-baked lobster, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and place prepared lobster tails on a baking sheet. We recommend using the piggyback method for the best outcome. This will expose the meat and give you plenty of surface area for seasoning.
  2. Brush each lobster tail with our melted Casco Bay Sea Salt Butter and bake for the specified duration, which depends on the weight of the tail.
  3. It’s crucial not to overcook; the lobster tail is ready when an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Keep in mind that there will be carryover cooking and the internal temperature of the lobster will continue to rise. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.

No oven? No problem. You can still achieve lobster bliss even if you’re living in a small studio apartment or dorm. Lobster tails air fryer recipes abound. Make sure to check out our easy in-depth guide below.

How Long to Bake Lobster Tails

  • L: 6-7 oz. lobster tails: Bake for about 10-12 minutes
  • XL: 8-10 oz. lobster tails: Bake for about 12-15 minutes
  • XXL: 16-20 oz. lobster tails: Bake for about 15-18 minutes
  • XXXL: 20-24 oz. lobster tails: Bake for about 18-20 minutes

Tips For Baking Lobster Tails

  • For the best finished product, use the piggback method of preparing your lobster tails for baking.
  • Don’t overcrowd the lobster tails in the baking dish or sheet pan.
  • All ovens will vary a little so use your instant read thermometer to ensure your lobster tails has cooked to 140 degrees.

Baked Lobster Tails Recipe

It doesn’t get more classic New England than baked stuffed lobster tails. Combining succulent lobster with sweet sea scallops and tender shrimp, this is over the top yet effortless dish will have your friends and family declaring it the best lobster tail recipe.

How to Broil Lobster Tails

Learning how to broil lobster tail is all about precision of timing and temperature. It happens fast making this a great method for any night of the week. Broiling tails is easy and fast and a great for presesentation for a special lobster dinner. In addition, it also gives you the most concentrated lobster flavor as the high heat caramelizes the sweet meat. Broiling lobster tails requires careful attention due to the high heat involved. To avoid overcooking, follow these simple steps:

  1. Preheat the broiler to high while preparing the tails, or between 400-500 degrees.
  2. Split or piggyback the tails and place them on a cookie sheet or broiler pan with the shell side down.
  3. Brush the meat with butter or olive oil, season with salt, pepper, or your preferred marinade, and keep baste at the ready for mid-cooking application.
  4. Broil the tails for slightly less than a minute per ounce, ensuring you baste them halfway through cooking. Exercise vigilance, especially with larger tails.
  5. For an added touch, garnish with crushed Ritz crackers, parsley, and a dash of paprika for a burst of color.

How Long to Broil Lobster Tails

  • L: 6-7 oz. Broil for 6-7 minutes, checking at 3 minutes
  • XL: 8-10 oz. Broil for 8-10 minutes, checking at the 4 minute mark
  • XXL: 16-20 oz. Broil for 16-20 minutes, checking at the 8 minute mark
  • XXXL: 20-24 oz. Broil for 20-24 minutes checking at the 10 minute mark

Broiled Lobster Tail Recipe Inspiration: 

Add an instant flavor boost to your broiled lobster tail recipe by basting your lobster tails in a rich and savory compound butter. Here are a few suggestions.

If you plan on making lobster the star and not necessarily making it a part of a dish such as lobster pasta, broiled lobster tail recipes will always win out in the battle of broil vs boil.

Tips For Broiled Lobster Tails

  • Make sure that your baking dish or sheet pan isn’t too close to the top of the oven to prevent the meat from burning. You’ll want to place your baking dish in either the middle rack or make sure you have at least 6″ between the top of the oven and the rack.
  • Broiling lobster tails quickly cooks the meat so you will want to ensure you check it at the halfway mark. Allow just under one minute per ounce.
  • Don’t add an excess of oil or butter to your lobster tails. It can burn and become acrid at the high heat. Save that pool of butter for dipping!
  • While you can broil the XXL and XXXL lobster tails, you may want to pick another option such as baking or grilling to prevent them from burning or over cooking.

How to Steam Lobster Tails

Steaming lobster tails is an excellent option when dealing with whole, butterfly, or split lobster tails. This is a favorite method for cooking lobster tails in Maine that gives you the pure flavor of the lobster without the risk of watering it down like boiling lobster tails. The steam heat makes for a tender and sweet tasting tail. Remember to watch you your cooking time as it is easy to steam the tails too long. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Begin by adding 2 inches of water to a pot and bringing it to a boil.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add the tails, and tightly cover the pot with a lid. Optionally, you can use a steaming rack.
  3. Steam the tails to perfection, following the specified cooking times based on tail size and method. To stop the cooking process simply add your steamed tails to a bowl of ice water.

How Long to Steam Lobster Tails

  • L: 6-7 oz. lobster tails: Steam for about 6-8 minutes
  • XL: 8-10 oz. lobster tails: Steam for 8-10 minutes
  • XXL: 16-20 oz. lobster tails: Steam for about 10-12 minutes
  • XXXL: 20-24 oz. lobster tails: Steam for about 10-12 minutes

Tips For Steaming Lobster Tails

  • Instead of water, use white wine or beer to steam the lobster tails. You can also use half water and half wine or beer.
  • Add aromatics to the liquid like lemon or lime slices, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, etc.
  • Make sure that you’re not using a large amount of water for this method for cooking lobster tails.

How to Cook Lobster Tails on the Grill

Learning how to grill a lobster tail with confidence will make you channel your inner Hank Hill and feel like a true pit master. Whether it’s just a feast of lobster tails being kissed by smoke and fire or a 4 way grill with steak, lobster, veggies, and sides, grilling lobster tails imparts a smoky flavor that’s hard to resist. Learning how to grill lobster tails couldn’t be easier. To achieve this, follow these steps:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates to prevent sticking. Make sure they’re clean.
  2. Place prepared lobster tails, shell side down, on the grill.
  3. Brush with your choice of marinade or seasoned butter, and grill according to the recommended times based on tail size.
  4. Keep a close watch to prevent overcooking. When the meat turns opaque and slightly charred, it’s time to savor your grilled lobster tails.

How Long to Grill Lobster Tails

  • L: 6-7 oz. lobster tails: Grill for about 6-8 minutes
  • XL: 8-10 oz. lobster tails: Grill for about 8-10 minutes
  • XXL: 16-20 oz. lobster tails: Grill for about 10-11 minutes
  • XXXL: 20-24 oz. lobster tails: Grill for about 11-12 minutes

Tips For Grilling Lobster Tails

  • Lobster tails can be cooked on any time of grill including gas, charcoal, and pellet grills. Regardless of the type of grill you want to heat your grill to around 400 degrees.
  • Be mindful of flair ups when basting your lobster tails, especially with charcoal grills. If this happens you can quickly move your lobster tails to a cooler zone to prevent them from burning.
  • Add a smoky layer of flavor to your grilled lobster tail recipe by using wood chips. Sweeter woods like pecan, apple, and cherry work well with seafood.
  • Split lobster tails will cook a little faster than piggyback or butterfly lobster tails. You can also sear them flesh side down for a couple of minutes to develop a crust before flipping them over.

How Long to Cook Lobster Tail

The cooking time for lobster tails varies depending on the method and the size of the tails. As a general guideline, for boiling, baking, and broiling, allow 1-2 minutes of cooking time per ounce of tail meat.

Steaming may require slightly longer, typically 3-4 minutes per ounce. When grilling, aim for 4-5 minutes per side for each ounce of meat.

Always verify doneness by checking that the meat is opaque, firm, and reaches an internal temperature of between 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit. An instant read thermometer is your best friend regardless of the method for cooking lobster tails.

How to Prevent the Meat from Sticking to the Shell

It can be very frustrating when you pay good money for lobster tails and after you cook them the meat comes out of the shell in bits and shredded pieces. Typically, this occurs when grilling lobster tails. Here are some tips for how to prevent the meat from sticking to the shell:

  • Defrost fully. Always make sure your lobster tails are fully defrosted so the tail meat can cook evenly and prevent the meat from sticking to its shell. Review our tips for thawing frozen lobster tails.
  • Remove the shell during prep time. The tail meat can also be gently lifted or loosened from the shell with your hands or even with a butter knife and lay back in the shell. This is also a great point to add seasoning or butter between the meat and shell.
  • Blanch the lobster tail. Parboiling (or blanching) cooks the meat enough so that the meat can be removed from the shell. It’s a good method to use before grilling. If you parboil your lobster prior to grilling, you will just need to sear it quickly to finish the cooking process.
  • Submerge lobster tail in cold water. Plunge cooked lobster tails into ice water to stop the cooking process and release the meat from the shell.

How Can You Tell Lobster Tails Are Cooked?

Determining the perfect doneness of your lobster tails is an essential skill. The two things you should look for are the color of the meat as well as the texture. The lobster meat should become opaque and turn a pearly white color when cooked. Additionally, it should feel firm and springy to the touch.

Some people go by the color of the shell, but there are times when the shell turns red that the meat isn’t fully cooked. This is especially true if the lobster wasn’t properly unthawed.

It always helps to make sure that your lobster is fully unthawed prior to cooking. This will allow the meat to cook evenly without becoming tough. However, sometimes the craving for lobster hits without planning. Knowing how to cook frozen lobster will ensure that it’s cooked through without over cooking or being raw in the middle. More gentle methods like steaming or boiling are ideal for cooking lobster tails that may still be frozen.

Minimum Internal Temp For Lobster

Once the internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit, your lobster tails are ready to enjoy! An instant-read thermometer is a reliable tool for ensuring you reach the minimum internal temp for lobster and ensures you will have that tender, succulent every time when cooking lobster tails.

Lobster Tails Cooking Temperature
Photo credit: Hooked on BBQ

Best Maine Lobster Tails

Mastering the art of cooking lobster tails opens up a world of culinary delight in the comfort of your own kitchen. Whether you opt for the simplicity of boiling or the smokiness of grilling, you’ll be rewarded with succulent lobster tail meat that’s sure to impress.

Skip the hassle of looking up lobster tails near me and order cold-water Maine lobsters effortlessly from the comfort of your home. It’s never been easier to create unforgettable lobster dishes for your family and friends!

Looking for More Ways to Cook Lobster at Home?

Checkout our recipe How to cook Lobster Tails; we have guides for different ways of cooking live lobsters as well. There are lots of ways to prepare live lobster at home. See our succinct overview of all the best ways to cook Maine lobster.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it better to boil or grill lobster tails?

Both are great options for cooking lobster tails. Grilled lobster tails will have a slightly smoky flavor profile while boiled lobster tails will have more of a pure lobster flavor.

How to Cut Lobster Tail Before Cooking?

How you cut your lobster tail depends on both your desired end presentation and also preferred lobster tail recipe. Methods like a butterfly lobster tail and piggyback lobster tail are equally as suited for broiling, grilling, and air fried lobster tails while leaving them whole and intact is more suited to boiled lobster. Leaving them whole while boiling will help prevent the meat from absorbing too much excess water and diluting the flavor.

How Should I Cook Frozen Lobster Tail?

You can boil or steam frozen lobster tail. While it’s always best to gently defrost your lobster tails in the refrigerator for 24 hours, both of these methods will defrost your lobster tails more gently than high heat options which would result in rubbery, overcooked meat.


  1. Happy New Year!

    I happened upon your site while looking for ‘how to cook frozen lobster tails’, and your selections, as well as the reviews, look fantastic!

    I’d like to suggest that you offer a “Sampler Special” — include a sample of all of your offerings in one bundle – the shrimp, scallops, steak, lobster meat, chowder, etc. – so that a newbie can better decide which item they’d like to order first.

    1. Small lobster tails will cook quickly, so be careful. You want to boil the tails no more than 2-3 minutes. To stop the cooking process, put them in a bowl of ice water. As always you want an internal temp of about 135 using an instant read thermoter.

        1. You can wrap them up in foil to keep them warm. It all depends on how you cooked your lobster tails to start.

          If you grilled them– you could warm/heat them up on a pan with a little water. If you boiled or steamed them- a quick steam of 1-2 minutes. You just have to be careful you do not overcook– as this is real easy to do.

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