If you’re confused about the difference between the two main styles of lobster rolls, Maine and Connecticut, we’re here to clear up your questions.
Here is everything you need to know to tell the two most common lobster roll styles apart and even how to prepare them at home.
Getting lobster at home or at a restaurant is always a treat. So it’s important to make the right decisions when it comes to ingredients and preparation styles. If you don’t know whether to make or try a Maine or a Connecticut-style lobster roll, it’s time to let the confusion end here.
There are several major differences between these two popular styles of seafood sandwiches. From their origins and history to the ingredients and flavor, let’s break down everything you need to know about the two camps of New England lobster rolls, including:
- Who will most like a Connecticut vs. a Maine-style lobster roll
- What the two kinds of rolls look, smell, and taste like
- All of the ingredients that you need to prepare the rolls at home
- How to best serve lobster rolls with appropriate side dishes
By the end, you’ll know exactly how to tell the difference between a Maine and a Connecticut lobster roll so you can try both for yourself and choose your favorite.
What Are The Most Common Styles of Lobster Roll?
The two most common styles of lobster roll are known as Maine and Connecticut, based on where they originated and where each style is most popular.
You may also come across a Manhattan-style lobster roll, which is less common but worth noting.
Maine Lobster Roll Overview
The main feature of a Maine-style lobster roll is that it’s served cold. Chunks of lobster meat are coated in a light dressing made with mayonnaise and seasoned with salt and pepper. Often, the salad on Connecticut-style rolls contains raw celery and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Importantly, though the lobster salad itself is served chilled, the roll it comes in is toasted to golden perfection and should be warm and crunchy.
Connecticut Lobster Roll Overview
The hot and buttery foil to Maine’s chilled salad, the Connecticut roll is served dripping in a sauce of drawn butter. Like Maine-style rolls, the lobster salad sits atop a brown and toasted split-top hot dog bun or brioche roll.
Manhattan Lobster Overview
The third and far less common style of lobster roll is known as the Manhattan style. You’re most likely to find a Manhattan-style or Long Island-style lobster roll in one of those places, but it most closely resembles a Maine Lobster Roll in presentation and ingredients. New Yorkers like their lobster coated in a mayo-based dressing with small pieces of celery for crunch.
Maine Lobster Rolls 101
We’re answering all of your questions about Maine lobster rolls. Including how they came to be, what you need to make them, and how to pair them with other dishes.
History and Origin
The first lobster rolls were sold from casual roadside stands throughout Maine. They were a popular summertime meal starting in the 1970s, when road trippers and Mainers could stop and get high-quality chilled Maine lobster meat tossed in mayo and tucked into a soft hot dog bun at any number of lobster shacks.
The Maine sandwich quickly spread outside the state to New York City, where chef Rebecca Charles became known for her mayo-coated lobster salad served in toasted buttery buns at the Pearl Oyster Bar.
As the sandwiches became increasingly popular throughout New England, chefs throughout the region started putting their own spins on Charles’ recipe. In particular, Boston chef Jasper White was famous for his high-end lobster rolls in the 1980s.
The ingredients for a Maine lobster roll are simple and straightforward. The beauty of this recipe is that it lets the sweet, juicy lobster meat shine, thanks to a light dressing made with:
- Mayonnaise. Most traditional lobster roll recipes will specify Hellman’s mayo.
- Celery. This is optional but makes a nice textural addition to the lobster salad. The celery should be finely diced.
- Lemon juice to thin out the dressing a bit and add a pop of acidity and brightness.
- Mustard. You just need a small amount of Dijon mustard to add a nice gentle spice to the lobster salad.
- Salt and pepper to season the lobster meat and dressing.
- Boston lettuce leaves to line the roll before you add the salad so your bread stays crisp, not soggy.
- Split top hotdog buns, which should be toasted in butter for the best flavor and structural integrity to hold up your weighty lobster meat. Split top buns have flat sides specifically for easier grilling on a hot skillet.
What Does a Maine Lobster Roll Taste Like?
The flavor of a Maine lobster roll is all about, well, the lobster. The dressing adds a slight creaminess and brightness, but you get plenty of sweetness from lobster meat and a bit of vegetal crunch from the celery.
What to Serve with a Maine Lobster Roll
The most classic combination is a Maine lobster roll with a side of warm and creamy clam chowder or homemade seafood chowder. Other popular side dishes to serve Maine-style lobster rolls with include seafood shack classics like onion rings, salt and vinegar potato chips, coleslaw, and a fat dill pickle spear.
You’ll like Maine Lobster Rolls if…
If you love a dish that offers textural, temporal, and flavor contrasts, the Maine-style roll is for you. The bun is warm and crisp, while the lobster salad is chilled and creamy. If you’re a fan of a mayo-based dressing that is flavorful and tangy without being overwhelming, go for a Maine-style roll.
Connecticut Lobster Rolls 101
Here’s what you need to know about Connecticut-style lobster rolls and how they differ from Maine rolls.
History and Origin
The first known Connecticut lobster roll was served up in 1929 at a Milford, Connecticut restaurant called Perry’s. This roll held the signature Connecticut-style hot lobster salad in plenty of melted butter on a toasted bun.
To make a traditional Connecticut-style lobster roll, the first step is of course to start with premium lobster meat. Choose sweet and tender tail and lobster knuckle meat for the best combination of textures and flavors.
Then, to make the Connecticut-style dressing, you’ll need:
- Melted butter. In particular, you’ll want to use unsalted butter so as not to overwhelm the delicate seafood. That way, you can salt the lobster salad to taste.
- Lemon juice. Just like with a Maine-style roll, the lemon juice brightens things up and adds a hit of acidity to cut through the richness of butter.
- If you like, you can add a dash of paprika. It won’t add much heat, but many people like the subtle smokiness and depth from the red spice.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Hot dog buns or fluffy brioche rolls, toasted and hot.
What Does a Connecticut Lobster Roll Taste Like?
These hot lobster rolls are dripping in warm, savory drawn butter. This dressing highlights the sweetness of the lobster meat. And because the salad is served warm in the bun, the lobster in a Connecticut-style roll is a bit softer and more tender than a chilled Maine-style roll.
What to Serve with a Connecticut-Style Lobster Roll
To complete your classic New England seafood meal, serve your buttery hot lobster roll with a dill pickle and potato chips or fries. For extra heft, add a side of creamy chilled potato salad.
You’ll like Connecticut Lobster Rolls if…
If you love a hot meal and you’re not afraid to get messy for the sake of a delicious buttery sandwich, Connecticut-style is for you. Here, there’s no crunchy celery or creamy mayo to distract from the pure and perfect pairing of butter and lobster meat. And because this style of sandwich is served hot, there’s no need to reserve it for just summer eating.
Maine vs. Connecticut Lobster Rolls: Summery
At the end of the day, the main differences between these two popular styles of lobster roll are their temperature, ingredients, and where they’re found. While Maine rolls are served with chilled mayo-coated lobster salad on toasted split-top rolls, Connecticut-style rolls are warm and dripping with savory melted butter.
If you’re a lobster fan, you can’t go wrong with any kind of lobster roll, so we say go ahead and try as many as possible!
Try A Lobster Roll Today
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