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How To Prepare Lobster

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Quick Tips Before Preparing Lobster


To avoid lobster meat sticking to the shells, we recommend that you thaw your lobster tails 24 hours prior to cooking. You can thaw your lobster tails in the refrigerator inside a container. Please note that the lobster tails will leak some fluid. If you plan on cooking the tails the same day of purchase, we suggest keeping your lobster tails in a sealed bag and soaking them in cold water for 30-60 min. (The larger the tail, the more time you will need to thaw.)


Tomalley is the black/ green substance that can sometimes appear in the center of a lobster tail. This is the liver of the lobster which is completely edible and considered a delicacy. However, if you do not desire to eat it, the tomalley can be rinsed with water once the lobster is fully cooked.

Meat Color

Most lobster tail meat is white, however it is common to find some tails that have a light pink tint. This happens when the lobsters are preparing to shed their shells. This is a natural process and is completely edible, however if you do not desire to eat it, you can rinse most of the color off with warm water after the tail has been cooked.

Choosing a Cooking Method

Boiling is always a safe bet and is the technique used to minimize tail meat sticking to the shell. Steaming is faster than boiling, and is also the most popular way of cooking. You will be cooking at a higher temp, so be extra careful not to overcook. Baking is an excellent choice and allows for beautiful plate presentation, however you just have to be VERY careful not to overcook. The meat can dry out quickly so we suggest checking the tails early to be sure. (To keep the tails moist, brush butter and spices!) Grilling is a great technique for a unique char/ grill mark look. 

Cooking Tips

It is always better to undercook your lobster tail than to overcook. You can always drop them back in boiling water, back into the oven or put them back on the grill to cook for a couple additional minutes if needed.

To keep the lobster tails from curling, you can skewer the meat prior to cooking with a wooden or metal skewer.

Preparation Tip

Prior to cooking your lobster tails in any method, you can brush oil or butter on the shells/meat or add any spices you desire. Also, lobsters tail meat is great when served with drawn butter and lemon once cooked!

How to Prepare Lobster Tails

Boiling Lobster Tails

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil
  • Reduce heat to a soft boil and add salt (if desired)
  • Drop the tails in one at a time and set your kitchen timer for the time listed below
  • Once cooked, use metal tongs or a strainer to get the hot tails out of the boiling water
  • Run the tails under fresh cool water to keep from over cooking. Serve and enjoy!

Timer for Boiling Lobster Tails

Two—Six Tails: 3-6 oz. = 3-5 minutes | 6-7 oz. = 5-6 minutes | 8-10 oz. = 6-8 minutes | 10-16 oz. = 8-10 minutes | 16-20 oz. = 10 minutes | 20-28 oz. = 10-13 minutes

Steaming Lobster Tails

  • Choose a pot large enough to hold all lobster tails with a tight fitting lid. The pot with the lid must fit all of the tails with enough room for the steam to circulate
  • Place a steamer basket or colander in the pot so the lobster tails are not in the water
  • Pour in cold water so the pot is filled about two inches high
  • Cover the pot and bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add the tails to the pot and cover
  • Once you have reached the steaming time below, remove the pot from the heat & check
  • Remove tails from the colander/ steamer basket with tongs
  • Serve with melted butter or lemon if preferred

Timer for Steaming Lobster Tails

Two—Six Tails: 3-6 oz. = 4-6 minutes | 6-7 oz. = 6-8 minutes | 8-10 oz. = 8-10 minutes | 10-16 oz. = 9-11 minutes | 16-20 oz. = 10-12 minutes | 20-28 oz. = 10-13 minutes

Baking Lobster Tails

  • Note: You can follow the Butterfly Technique (below) or leave the tails untouched prior to cooking. Just make sure that the tails are completely thawed
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F
  • Place lobster tails on a baking pan and add a little water so the lobster tails do not dry out.
  • Brush each tail with a little bit of butter and bake using the chart below
  • Remove from the oven and serve with melted butter and lemon

Timer for Baking Lobster Tails

Two—Six Tails: 3-6 oz. = 8-11 minutes | 6-7 oz. = 10-12 minutes | 8-12 oz. = 12-15 minutes | 12-20 oz. = 15-18 minutes | 20-32 oz. = 18-20 minutes

Grilling Lobster Tails

  • Prepare a charcoal or medium-high gas grill
  • Brush olive oil on the cut sides of the lobster tails and set them bottom side down on the cooking grates of the grill
  • Grill until the shells are bright red and the juices that come out of the shell when cooking turns to white. Make sure you do not overcook!! There is no need to flip the tails in the process, just leave them bottom side down. (Approximately 8 min to cook thoroughly.)
  • Remove the lobster tail from the grill and let cool for a few minutes before serving!

Cooking Instructions provided by Maine Lobster Now

How to Butterfly Lobster Tails for Baking

  • Make sure the lobster tails are completely thawed
  • Cut the upper shell down the center of the back with seafood shears leaving the tail fan intact. (You can cut into the top half of the meat as well.) Be very careful when handling!
  • Give the tail a rinse and remove any vein or tomalley. Do not remove under the shell
  • Run your finger between the meat and the shell to loosen and separate from each other
  • Lift the uncooked tail meat through the slit to rest on top of the shell. (Leave the end of the tail meat in the shell where the tail fans out.)
  • Follow the Baking Instructions above. Once cooked, the tail meat on the shell will fan open to give the “butterfly” effect. (f you would like the shells to turn bright red, boil the shells separately and then place the meat back on before baking.