Lobster rolls are a special summer sandwich. The best one’s are found along seaside clam shacks in Maine, Massachusetts, or on the Cape. The lobster roll, like chili, is one of the most contentious foods out there; everyone’s got a favorite way to do it. The sandwich goes back to when lobster was plentiful and cheap as a means to use up less-than-perfect lobsters that wouldn’t fetch that high a price on the market.
How to Make Lobster Rolls: Variations & Impostors
In New England, you’ll find two different schools of how to make lobster rolls: chilled with mayo (our recipe) or served hot with butter. The latter, also know as the Connecticut-style or naked lobster roll is just fresh chunks of lobster on top of a grilled hot dog bun drizzled with warm butter. Some serve lobster rolls with both mayo and butter on the side. You can’t go wrong with these New England lobster roll recipes since they focus on the sweet taste of lobster. On the other hand, some people (we won’t name names), like to cover up the fresh briny succulence of the lobster meat with fancy ingredients like aioli, tarragon, Old Bay seasoning and so on…
A lobster roll is not called a lobster roll for nothing. We’ve found “lobster rolls” made with some interesting bread choices, including croissants, baguettes, sub rolls and even hamburger buns! There’s nothing like a properly made lobster roll. It all starts with fresh, succulent lobster meat, and lots of it.
It takes two live lobsters to make 8 ounces of lobster meat. Unless there’s filler, a good lobster sandwich is not cheap.
1. Rule #1: Never Skimp on the Maine Ingredient!
The best lobster is made simply: Chunks of lobster on top of a grilled hot dog bun with just a little mayo. Always use big chunks of lobster meat, not shredded or minced lobster. We’re not making lobster salad here. Now let’s make some lobster rolls!
2.The Lobster Makes the Sandwich
Cook a bunch of lobsters and shuck the lobster meat out of the shell. Do not overlook the knuckle meat. True lobster aficionados know it’s the sweetest meat of the lobster! Now mix your lobster meat with a touch of mayonnaise. We like to use Cains since it’s all-natural and local. Use just enough mayonnaise to hold the lobster meat together. Again, purists prefer just a little mayo, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Optionally, you can add a little chopped celery to give it a little crunch. Nothing else. Chill your lobster meat in a covered bowl for 30 minutes.
3. Grab Some Top Split Lobster Rolls
Find some top-split hot dog rolls or New England style hot dog buns. If you live outside the six New England States they can be hard to find. It’s the kind with flat, white sides, because it absorbs the most butter when toasted in a pan. What’s nice about the east coast style roll is that when the outside is grilled, the inside stays soft. What’s more, the rolls will stand upright with lobster meat loaded and ready to enjoy.
Our favorite store bought roll is made by Pepperidge Farms, founded by Margaret Rudkin in 1937 in New Haven, Connecticut. It was named after her family farm. She started making preservative and artificial free bread for her son who was allergic to commercial breads.
Iconic Maine bread maker, JJ Nisan is best known for its endorsement by Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams in the late 1980’s. The Nisan bread company survived the Great Depression and both the First and Second World Wars.
Country Kitchen Rolls is another local favorite baked by Lepage Bakeries (LEWISTON, Maine) a 109-year-old-company- purchased by Georgia based, Flower Foods in 2012.
If you can’t find a “top-loading” hot-dog bun, give a brioche roll a try or even a nice buttery croissant. Local, fresh baked breads is always a real real treat, but be sure your bread does not over weigh the meat. Remember the roll is merely the vessel to hold your luxurious lobster meat. Too much and you will sink your lobster roll!
4. Over-Stuff your Lobster Roll!
Next lightly butter both sides of each bun and grill for 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Open the top split and pile in your lobster meat until your lobster roll is overstuffed. Don’t forget to supply a fork to get every chunk of lobster meat that spills out.
5. A Secret Lobster Roll Ingredient
You never want to over-complicate the lobster roll, but here is one little secret topping that gives your roll a little sweet and salty taste. Pick up one box each of Lorna Dune cookies, Keebler Club Crackers, and Ritz Crackers.
- In a zip lock back add 4-5 of each and mash em up fine.
- Just before you serve your rolls sprinkle a little of this mixture on the top of your rolls.
- Give each roll a squeeze of fresh lemon.
This crumb topping is great on both hot buttered and mayo rolls! Also, try it on grilled or baked lobster tails.
What to Serve With Lobster Rolls?
Again, you want to keep your sea sweet sandwiches simple. Some sides can include: potato chips, potato salad, coleslaw french fries, onion rings or even a pickle or two. For starters, go for a nice cup of clam chowder with oyster crackers. And when in New England why not have some steamer clams or even fried clams with your rolls.
For a sweet side serve watermelon slices and for dessert bake up chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or whoopie pies—the official state treat of Maine.
Where to find the Perfect Lobster Roll?
Your itinerary to Maine would not be complete without a stop at a roadside stand for this New England, and now US favorite. A great little book documenting some of the best rolls in not just Maine, but in all of New England is Lobster Rolls of New England: Seeking Sweet Summer Delight, by the Lobster Gal, aka, Sally Lerman.
Can’t get to a lobster shack? Have authentic Lobster Rolls shipped direct to your door from LobsterAnywhere! Create a classic Maine dinner with two pounds of exquisite claw and knuckle lobster meat (that’s lots of lobster meat!), and eight traditional top split lobster rolls, express shipped. Plus, for fun we include a box of New England taffy. Get $10 off your first order of rolls. Enter code (ROLL10) at online checkout.