How to Piggyback Lobster Tails

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Dine out at an overpriced steakhouse and you are likely to feast your eyes on a big lobster tail with the meat lying on top of its shell. This is what is called a piggyback lobster tail. It is not cheap, especially when the sides are à la carte. It’s a treat for the taste buds, but not so light on the wallet! In this article we will show you how it is done with step-by-step instructions. Dive into luxury with mouthwatering piggyback lobster tails at your house!

How to Piggyback a Lobster Tail
Monster Lobster Tails grilled by Chef Eric Gephart

Difference Between Piggyback and Butterfly

There is a difference between a piggyback and butterfly lobster tail. With butterflying tails you are basically opening up the shell like a book. The tail will open up like a butterfly and lay flat. Piggyback, on the other hand, is simply cutting the top of the shell and lifting lifting the meat on top of the shell. See our guide for how to properly butterfly a lobster tail.

Why Piggyback a Lobster Tail?

There are several reasons to use this method, including:

  • Presentation: The biggest reason to piggyback lobster tails is that it looks impressive. Some chefs might use this method on small tails to make them look bigger than they really are.
  • Easy to Serve: With the tail meat already pulled out of the shell your guests have easy access. No lobster crackers required, just a fork and knife and extra butter for dipping.
  • Butter & Spice: The meat lends itself to a butter baste and spice rubs.
  • Quicker Cooking: The lobster tail will cook quicker with the tail meat exposed.

Tools Needed

  • Kitchen Shears
  • Large Chef Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Kitchen Towel
Piggyback Lobster Tail Recipe
Alberto “Beto” Santoyo, The BBQ Boy showcases a Colossal Lobster Tail.

Steps to Piggyback the Tail

Time needed: 2 minutes

This method is not as difficult as it looks, but always be careful cutting the tail as there can be sharp shell pieces. Always slow defrost the lobster tails overnight before prepping and give the tail a quick rinse under cold water.

  1. Cut Top of Shell

    With kitchen shears cut through the top center shell lengthwise until you reach the fan of the tail.Step 1: Piggyback a lobster tail

  2. Make a ‘T’ Cut

    Make two small cuts to make a small ‘T’ above the fantail. Step 2: Piggyback Tail

  3. Crack Ribs

    Flip the tail over to crack the ribs in the center and snip of the legs.  Step 3 Piggyback tail

  4. Spread Open and Clean Meat

    Gently spread the halves of the shell apart and loosen the meat. Remove the black intestinal tract and rinse out the tail.   Step 4 Piggyback Lobster Tail

  5. Piggyback the Tail Meat

    Lift up the meat through the split shell and rest it “piggyback” on top of the shell. Optionally, use a sharp knife and score the 2 loins down the center and cross hatch. This fabrication method will increase surface area for roasted flavor, decrease cooking time as well as add to the presentation. Season with salt, baste with drawn butter.Step 5 Piggyback Lobster tail

How to Cook a Piggyback Lobster Tail

Piggyback tails are best roasted or baked in the oven. You do not want to boil or steam tails with this preparation method since the shell protects the delicate meat.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place prepared lobster tails on a baking sheet, brush each lobster tail with melted butter and bake approximately 10 to 15 minutes (depending on tail weight) or until an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Do not overcook. Lobster shell will turn their bright red color well before the meat is thoroughly cooked inside. Remove from the oven and serve with melted butter and lemon wedges. For for detailed instructions, see our tips for baking whole lobster.


Follow the instructions for baking, but you are cook at a higher heat for less time. Preheat the oven to 420. Depending on the tail size, cut the cooking time by 5-6 minutes. Tails can also be roasted on a grill at high temperature. Do not flip the tails. Baste the tails once to prevent them from drying out. Watch carefully as roasting can dry out the tails. See our tips for roasting lobster.


Tails can also be roasted on a grill at high temperature. Do not flip the tails. Baste the tails once to prevent them from drying out. See our step-by-step instructions for grilling lobster tails.

Lobster Tail Piggybacked Grilled
Melissa Roeme, the Grill Momma, shows off a beautifully prepped and grilled lobster tail.

In review, there are many ways to prepare lobster tails. Perhaps the most important is to start out with fresh Maine lobster tails direct from Our lobsters are sourced from some of the most regulated and sustainable fisheries in the world, ensuring the superior taste and environmental responsibility you care about.

Piggyback Lobster Instructions

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