How to Make the Best Lobster Rolls: A Definitive Step-By-Step Guide

What is a Lobster Roll? Meet Maine’s Official Summer Sandwich

Lobster rolls are a special summer sandwich. Native to New England clam shacks and roadside stands, it’s the coastal brother of the popular hot dog. The lobster roll, like chili, is one of the most contentious foods out there; everyone’s got a favorite way to do it. 

How to Make Lobster Rolls

What is Lobster Roll Made of? The Anatomy of a Lobster Roll

Let’s discuss what makes the best lobster roll. What’s in a lobster roll? The short answer: fresh, simple ingredients! This sumptuous seafood sandwich is made with a handful of foods that are easily stored in your pantry and fridge. When you deconstruct a lobster roll, you realize it’s easier than making a BLT! There’s nothing like a properly made lobster roll. It consists of three main ingredients:

  1. Fresh lobster meat
  2. Bread
  3. Dressing
Lobster Roll Ingredients

#1 Lobster Meat

Rule #1: Never skimp on the ‘Maine’ ingredient! Starting off with high-quality, succulent lobster meat, and lots of it. Avoid sacrificing quality for pounds of lobster because this is going to be the start of the dish.

It typically takes about 8 ounces of lobster meat (2 live lobsters) to make a good round of lobster rolls.

With advanced processing technologies, you can now get premium frozen lobster meat that can be far superior to cooked meat that has been stored a day or two too long. This is an ideal option for those who buy their food in advance but aren’t ready to make the rolls immediately.

Lobsters should be cooked live, iced to prevent overcooking, with the meat picked on the spot. When you order lobster rolls from Lobster Anywhere, you’ll get the best Maine lobster delivered to your front door.

The star of the roll should always be succulent chunks of lobster meat, freshly cooked and shucked locally or properly fresh-frozen lobster meat.

Did you know there are differences in the meat from the different parts of the lobster?

  • CK meat: Claw and knuckle meat is known in the trade as CK meat. It is the most widely used for rolls.
  • TCK meat: Tail, Claw and knuckle meat is called TCK meat. This mix includes the best parts of the lobster, with the tail meat being the most expensive.
  • CKL meat: Claw, knuckle and leg meat.

You will find that each part of the meat will have a different flavor profile and texture. Big chunks of claw and knuckle meat are the ideal choice. The tail meat should have a firm, snappy texture. Don’t overlook the knuckle meat as it offers sweet and tender morsels. Uncut lobster meat also tastes the best and makes for a better, more authentic presentation. In short, the meat makes the lobster roll!

#2 What’s the Best Bread for a Lobster Roll?

It is not called a lobster roll for anything! The New England hot dog bun is also known as the frankfurter roll, split-top bun or top sliced roll. If you live outside the six New England States, real rolls may be hard to come by.

Lobster rolls are traditionally served on a roll: a top-split melted butter grilled roll. A split roll is sliced down the top (instead of the side), making a delicious pocket for your filling. A typical soft New England hot dog roll features straight-up, white sides for coating in butter and for grilling. It absorbs the most butter when grilled in a pan, plus the inside stays soft.

Fresh-off-the griddle buttered rolls make a huge difference. The only prerequisite for the bread is that there is not too much of it and it is light and fresh. Again, the star of the sandwich is the meat. You always want a generous portion of freshly cooked meat, not heavy bread.

Store-Bought Options

Our favorite store-bought roll is made by Pepperidge Farm. An important distinction with these New England rolls is that they are baked with a brown crust on the sides. However, they taste wonderful butter grilled and hold up well. Country Kitchen Rolls is another local favorite baked by Lepage Bakeries.

Top Split Lobster Rolls

We’ve found “lobster rolls” made with some inventive bread choices, including:

If you can’t find a “top-loading” hot-dog bun, give a brioche roll a try or even a nice buttery croissant.

#3 Lobster Roll Dressing

We are proponents of simple, light dressings such as a glaze of mayo or a drizzle of hot butter. These are what you call traditional lobster rolls: cold Maine-style with mayo and Connecticut-style hot buttered.

We like to use Cains mayonnaise since it’s all-natural and local. Use just enough mayonnaise to hold the lobster meat together. Remember there is no saving a soggy roll drowning in too much mayo! Again, purists prefer just a touch of mayo and a pinch of seasoning with salt and pepper.

Some add a bed of lettuce or diced celery blended in the mayo for a little added crunch. But don’t go overboard, you don’t want to be guilty of adding filler! A squeeze of fresh lemon or on the roll is always sublime. Drawn butter and mayo may also be served on the side. 

You will also find rolls dressed in aioli sauce. What is aioli? It’s like mayo although it is garlic-based and made with olive oil, not vegetable oil. It’s good stuff if it’s made simple. For a slightly sweeter roll, whip in the salad spread, Miracle Whip in place of your standard mayo. Tarragon, celery salt, or fresh chopped chives,can be tasty compliments to a lobster roll as well.

Pro Tip: Make sure you can visibly see lobster meat in the roll, like a whole claw or two, or even a big piece of tail meat. Lightly dressed rolls are the best.

All Killer, No Filler? Simple Lobster Roll Recipes

You can’t go wrong with lobster roll recipes that 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…

In New England, you’ll find two different schools of how to make lobster rolls: chilled with mayo 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.

The No-Mayo Lobster RollGourmet (July, 2009) magazine featured a recipe for no-mayo lobster rolls with lemon vinaigrette dressing. The rationale is that the simple dressing will not mask the sweet, briny flavor or bright red color of the lobster meat.

The Great Lobster Roll Debate Rages On…

Served warm with drawn butter or chilled with mayo? That is the million-dollar question! The best way to make a lobster roll is a topic of debate between seafood purists and culinary adventurers. There are three types of lobster rolls that reign supreme: The Connecticut, The Maine and The Maverick. Which one do you like most? Read our guide to make a decision.

The Connecticut Lobster Roll

Those nice Nutmeggers* believe that lobster rolls should be served one way only: warm and unadorned. Succulent lobster meat is heated in butter, dressed with salt, pepper and lemon juice, and generously loaded into a toasted split top bun.

Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls With Butter Recipe 

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. 

*Fast Fact: Nutmegger is a nickname for people from the US state of Connecticut!

How to Make Hot Buttered Lobster Rolls (Hot buttered CT Style)

  1. Grab a saucepan and melt our Maine sea salt butter over a low heat.
  2. Add our fresh lobster meat to the warmed butter and toss gently. Be careful not to overheat or cook the meat.
  3. Brush each side of our Pepperidge Farm split rolls with butter and toast in a skillet.
  4. Load the bread with cooked lobster meat and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a shake of pepper.
  5. Serve up immediately since the butter can soak through the bread and no one wants soggy bread.

The Maine Lobster Roll

The good folk of Maine like to dress their chilled lobster meat with creamy mayo. Some call it a cold lobster salad, but we think a lobster salad is something a little different. The chilled meat is generously loaded into a toasted split top roll, before being finished with a spritz of lemon juice and a shake of salt and pepper.

How to Make Classic Lobster Rolls with Mayo (Maine-Style)

  1. Grab a large bowl and mix our cooked lobster meat with quality mayonnaise.
  2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a shake of pepper.
  3. Fold all the ingredients into each other until the lobster meat is lightly covered.
  4. Brush both sides of of each Pepperidge Farm buns with our Maine sea salt butter and toast in a skillet until golden (about 2 minutes per side).
  5. Open the top split roll and pile in your chilled lobster meat until your roll is overstuffed. Don’t forget to supply a fork to get every chunk of lobster meat that spills out.

Now you have a classic Maine lobster roll even if you live in the small town of South Boston, Virginia.

The Maverick

Loved by the gastronauts of the foodie world, these lobster rolls break all the rules. The meat is finished with aioli, wasabi, Old Bay seasoning, pickled mustard seeds, cucumber, and Tabasco…just to name a few! There are plenty of chefs who attempt to put a “gourmet” spin on the roll. We’ve even heard of lobster meat being swamped with mac and cheese or stuffed into Asian slaw. While we not fans those kinds of adaptations, we give full marks for imagination!

The truth is, the star of the show is the lobster itself — succulent, sweet, and beautifully briny. We source our Maine lobsters from a sustainable fishery, caught by independent lobstermen.

Hot dogs are not the only comfort food served with toppings. Have you tried the California version of the lobster roll served with avocado, white cabbage, pico de gallo, and Sriracha? Along with avocado, you’ll find rolls topped with bacon, pickled mustard seeds, cucumbers, caramelized onions, tomatoes, hot giardiniera (Italian relish), Old Bay seasoning, black truffle, panko crumbs, and crushed potato chips (might give this a try).  It’s okay to embrace creativity, but always remember to know the source, keep it fresh and simple.

A Top-Secret Condiment

Read On for the Big Reveal!

You never want to over-complicate a lobster roll, but there is one secret topping that will add a hit of salty sweetness. Pick up a box each of Lorna Dune Cookies, Keebler Club Crackers, and Ritz Crackers.

  1. Place a handful each in a zip lock bag and mash em up fine.
  2. Just before you serve your rolls sprinkle a little of this mixture on the top of your rolls for a flavor extravaganza!
  3. Give each roll a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Simple Lobster Roll Ingredient

Comments

  1. Hot buttered toasted roll with hot buttered lobster meat…there is no better sandwich! Beer is great with it and the bubbly is also excellent for the adults.

  2. I just started eating lobster since my husband introduced me to eating it and its great with hot butter on a warm croissant along with a cold glass of beer or a cold glass of wine and a buttery hot baked potatoe yum yum yummy.

  3. I am a true lobster lover. I would love to travel to Maine to get the best, but in the meantime, I will be happy with lobster rolls, tails, salad–really just anyway I can enjoy the sweet taste of lobster!!!

  4. I’ve never had a true lobster roll…or even a variation. Every time I see one done in a cooking competition or featured on a blog I think oh how amazingly delicious that must be. I decided when I get my promotion at work I am buying this treat to celebrate so I can blog about it.

  5. I’ve never had a lobster roll, they sound delicious! I live in the Rocky Mountains and beef country. No lobster roundups around here for the wiley crustaceans… sadly. Would love to try it one day!!!

  6. I have ordered the Monster Lobster Tails many times, very yummy. I will order them with butter. I have wanted to try the Lobster Rolls, but have not had the chance as of yet.

  7. I thought I’d eaten lobster in any way possible, but have never had a lobster roll!
    I just ordered 24 lobsters from this place, and have eaten em all over the world, I swear, these were
    sooo tender and sweet, fresh, you BET!!! No kidding either. I had bought the huge 24 oz a few months ago for one son’s BD, but the ones I just got, the 8 oz, are better for me, I eat 2 for dinner, or have a little surf n turf with one.

    Again, these lobsters slept in the ocean the day before I got them, had too, just tooooo sweet!!!
    Thank you for such a wonderful product!!! And I got the Maine butter with these.

  8. Real lobster , huge chunks of meat !!!!! What else can you say but summer time sure is great when lobster and friends are involved !!!! Love it can’t wait to sit down with a REAL lobster roll and a cold bud light.

  9. Buttered lobster rolls are the best. I’ve had them in Maine and I don’t think you can get them anywhere else as fresh and plentiful then in Maine. They never skimp on the lobster and it is the sweetest I’ve ever tasted.

  10. There are no favorites, but my favorite way to truly enjoy them is to make and devour 1 hot buttered and one with mayo and a bit of celery, I cheat by leaving a little lobster meat to eat by itself. I have given and served lobster rolls and other great food from Lobster Anywhere for a number of years.

    From Florida to Arkansas, always well received and want to know when there will be more. I’ve even served rolls in the winter with a side of sautéed bok choy over brown rice. No bad way to serve a lobster roll.

  11. Best lobster roll I ever had was at a little seaside restaurant in Oqunquit, Maine! Definitely love mine with mayo and a little splash of Tabasco! 🙂 Yum, yum and more yum!

  12. We were up in New England for over two weeks an I bet I had 12 different Lobster rolls. My favorite had a spicy mayo seasoning (maybe aioli). Don’t remember the place but I know I will find it when we return.

  13. Must be in a freshly buttered & toasted roll, stuff with as much of any fresh, buttered or mayo tossed Lobster……..drizzle with a little lemon juice……..Enjoy every last bite YUMMMM!!!

  14. I have enjoyed Lobster Rolls, both ways, Mayo & Butter. The best one we had was when we were on a Cruise From NY, to New Brunswick, St. Johns, & Boston. The Northeast know how to make them perfectly. Just thinking about them gets my mouth watering. YUMMY

  15. All terrific suggestions. Lobster meat…check. Cold Arnold Palmer…check. Buttered split-top rolls…check. I’ll go one better — TOASTED split-top rolls. Nothing better! Agreed, summer, fall, winter, spring…anytime of year. Lobster knows no season.

  16. I am sure this taste great. I have not tried a real Maine lobster rolls, however I LOVE your lobsters tails, so I am sure I would enjoy and love these rolls!

  17. I like my lobster rolls warm with finely minced shallots sauted in butter with chopped peppadew peppers, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, black pepper and a sprinkling of grated romano cheese on a hot buttered bun. I know I have gone rebel but its so good!!!

  18. I was just visiting my family on Cape Cod. Other than seeing the Ocean having a lobster roll and fresh whole clams was the most awesome thing. Along with fresh made Clam Chowdah!!! I need to win my some Lobster Rolls.

  19. Love the classic Lobster rolls I enjoyed in Brewster, Mass on Cape Cod…I sometimes added a shot of hot sauce, but mostly I loved to let the fresh Lobster taste shine through.
    A nice dry white wine or a cold beer made the meal heaven to me…!

  20. When making a lobster roll, you have to be very careful not to add too much mayo. I chop celery fine add a little mayo and put on fresh Italian bread with iceberg lettuce! Yum!

  21. I served my party with the Frito lay dips…just in case the over stuffed lobster fell out! I also sprinkled old bay spices on top and toasted the buttery bread in the oven for a warm crunch! Some ate my potato salad with the rolls… I just disappeared with 3 to myself ?

  22. I’ve never heard of doing that with crackers. I do love lobster lightly dressed on a grilled buttered roll. Some places pile it high with lettuce and tomato. Just give me the lobster.

  23. I LOVE any kind of lobster rolls and LOBSTER!!!! I lightly toast the hot dog buns and spread REAL melted butter on them..I do a LOT of lobster mixed with mayo and chopped celery and a dash of horseradish!! I serve with homemade potato salad and potato chips and a corn on the cob! YUMMY!!! BRING IT ON!!!!

  24. I like my lobster roll with a little “kick”! I prefer to have the lobster chopped into large chunks, with a little freshly chopped horseradish, some Hellmann’s mayonnaise, a pinch is sea salt and pepper, thinly sliced scallions and a hint of minced garlic…yum!

    1. That’s a new one! We’ll have to try it out. We’ll have to see if we can found them here. It’s usually the case that lobster lovers can’t get the top-split hot dogs buns outside of New England!

  25. My wife’s parents live on Cape Cod and the loberster rolls from Lobsteranywhere are as close to being on the Cape as you can get -PS this scores me big points with the wife!!!!!!!
    Thanks Lobersteranywhere.

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