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Lobster tail is my all-time favorite seafood and I’ve tested it every which way — broiled lobster, grilled lobster, you name it. But cooking lobster tail in the air fryer was a more recent development — and I have to admit, I hesitated about whether it would be worth it compared to my other tried-and-true methods. I’m so glad I went for it! This air fryer lobster tail recipe turned out just as good as the others, if not better. And I should have known: Other fancy foods like air fryer filet mignon, air fryer lamb chops, and air fryer salmon turn out fantastic, so why not lobster?
Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Lobster Tail Recipe
- Buttery garlic flavor
- Soft, tender and succulent meat
- Only a few basic ingredients
- Just 5-minute cook time (faster than most methods!)
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking lobster tails in the air fryer, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Lobster Tails – Cold water lobsters are ideal compared to warm water ones, since they have a firmer, cleaner tasting white meat. Ask your butcher if you’re not sure!
- Salted Butter – Adds flavor, locks in moisture, and helps with browning. If you want to control your salt intake, you could also use unsalted butter and add (less) salt separately.
- Garlic – Use fresh garlic in this recipe, as you will crush it with a garlic press. Minced garlic will burn more easily. If you don’t have any garlic on hand, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder instead.
- Lemon Juice – Use fresh lemon juice for best results. If you want extra lemon flavor, add the lemon zest as well.
- Smoked Paprika – Sweet paprika will also work as a substitute, though it won’t have the same depth of flavor.
- Cayenne Pepper – Just a pinch. Add more for extra heat.
How To Cook Lobster Tail In The Air Fryer
This section shows how to cook lobster tails in the air fryer, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Thaw. If lobster tails are frozen, thaw them overnight in the fridge, or in a bag submerged in cold water on the counter.
- Preheat. Turn the air fryer on and preheat for a few minutes.
- Butterfly. Using kitchen shears, cut down the center of the shell lengthwise, starting from the end opposite the tail fins, continuing down until you reach the tail but without cutting the tail. You want to cut through the top of the shell while avoiding the bottom shell.
- Spread. Use your thumbs and fingers to spread open the shell on top, then use your thumbs and fingers to spread open the shell.
- Skewer. Run a bamboo skewer through the center of the flesh lengthwise to prevent curling.
TIP: Don’t have skewers?
You can skip this step and arrange the lobster meat on top of the shell instead. See how to do it in this lobster tail recipe. (You can still cook it in the air fryer if you like.)
- Make garlic butter. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and cayenne.
- Season the lobster. Brush garlic butter sauce over the lobster meat.
- Cook. Place lobster tails in the air fryer basket and cook until opaque. Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.
How Long To Cook Lobster Tail In The Air Fryer?
Lobster tail air fryer time depends on their size. A good rule of thumb is about 1 minute per ounce of individual tail. For example, for 5-ounce tails (doesn’t matter how many), air fry them for 5-6 minutes. For 10-ounce tails, air fry for 10 minutes.
If you want to be sure, check internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part. The ideal temp is 140 degrees F.
Can You Cook Frozen Lobster Tails In An Air Fryer?
No, it is not recommended to cook frozen lobster tails in the air fryer. The meat will cook unevenly, so some parts will come out tough and overcooked. Simply thaw the lobster in cold water before cooking.
- Store: Keep leftover lobster tail in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Meal prep: Lobster is best cooked fresh, since seafood generally doesn’t reheat very well. However, you can butterfly lobster tails in advance and wrap in plastic before refrigerating, to prevent drying out.
- Reheat: You can reheat lobster tails in the air fryer as well. Place each tail on a sheet of aluminum foil and add a pat of butter. Wrap the foil all the way around and heat in the air fryer for a few minutes at 320 degrees F, just until warm. You can also use the same method on a baking sheet in the oven if you prefer, at 350 degrees F.
What To Serve With Air Fryer Lobster Tails
Serve this easy air fryer lobster tail recipe with:
- Butter – Drawn butter is a classic choice for seafood, especially lobster. You can also change it up and make my lemon butter sauce recipe for dipping.
- Potatoes – Try roasted potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, or for lighter options, rutabaga or cauliflower mash.
- Veggies – Make quick sauteed asparagus or sauteed zucchini while your lobster cooks in the air fryer. If you prefer your side to be in the air fryer as well, try air fryer cauliflower or air fryer brussels sprouts.
- Salad – Light salads like spring mix salad, pear salad, or Caprese salad pair well with lobster.
More Easy Shellfish Recipes
Seafood recipes taste fancy, but many of them actually come together quickly and easily. Here are more of my favorites:
- Air Fryer – I’ve had this air fryer (available from Amazon or Target) for years, and love it because the basket is roomy and it cooks evenly.
- Kitchen Shears – These are my favorite! They look like simple scissors, but are actually razor sharp and perfect for cutting through tough lobster shells.
- Bamboo Skewers – Prevent lobster tails from curling! Get them from Amazon or Target.
- Meat Thermometer – One of my favorites, available at Amazon or Target. I use this for all my meat and seafood recipes to ensure perfect results.
Air Fryer Lobster Tail Recipe
Air Fryer Lobster Tail (Fast & Foolproof!)
Make the most perfect air fryer lobster tail with lemon garlic butter! It's easy, juicy, tender, buttery, and has the FASTEST cook time ever.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
If tails are frozen, thaw them overnight in the fridge, or in a bag submerged in cold water on the counter for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C)for a few minutes.
Butterfly the lobster tails. Using kitchen shears, cut down the center of the shell lengthwise, starting from the end opposite the tail fins, continuing down until you reach the tail but without cutting the tail. You want to cut through the top of the shell, but don't cut through the bottom shell. Use your thumbs and fingers to spread open the shell on top, then use your thumbs and fingers to spread open the shell. Run a bamboo skewer through the center of the flesh lengthwise to prevent curling.
In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Brush the butter mixture over the lobster meat.
Cook lobster tails in the air fryer for 5-6 minutes for 5-ounce lobster tails, or until the meat is opaque and internal temperature in the thickest part reaches 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). (If your tails are a different size, a good rule of thumb for lobster tail air fryer time is about 1 minute per ounce of individual tail. For example, if your lobster tails are 8 ounces each, you’ll air fry them for about 8 minutes.) After cooking for 1 minute per ounce of individual tail, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer and if they are not done yet, cook for 1-3 more minutes as needed.
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Serving size: 1 5-oz lobster tail
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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Made this for my husband’s birthday cause I’d never cooked lobster tail before and this looked like the easiest way. It was very easy and turned out great! Would recommend.
GAME CHANGER!!! Making lobster tail in the air fryer might be the only way I make it now! 🙂 SOOOO GOOD!!!!
I just can’t believe how easy this is to make! I just got my air fryer and love it. Thank you!
Hubby said the lobster was amazing! It was delicious! Cooked per the instructions. Only issue I had was #3, sounds so easy to cut the lobster and separate the shell. But in reality, separating the shell was really hard. Was it normal to force separation between the shell and the meat? And I had no hope of “tucking” the shell under the meat as I have read. The tail wasn’t that flexible. Thank you for the great recipe! Air fryer time for 2 4oz was 5 minutes @400.
Maya | Wholesome Yum0
I’m glad you liked it, Michelle! Yes, sometimes the meet gets a little stuck and you have to pull it away. Also, sometimes you have to cut a bit horizontally at the tail end to allow the shell to tuck under the meat.
Love how easy this was to create! Tasted so good!
This was such an easy way to cook lobster tail! It’s faster than the oven.
Journa Liz Ramirez0
This recipe is a must-try! It’s so easy and so delicious! My family can’t get enough of it and wants this on repeat! Thanks, for sharing this mouth-watering recipe. We’ll surely have this again!
Gourmet lobster right at home. Love cooking in the air fryer. These are perfect for entertaining.
The lobster was absolutely delicious, tender and sweet. Perfect recipe for Christmas Day. Will be making it again. Thanks