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Welcome to the ultimate guide to cooking lobster tails! With the flavorful butter sauce and ultra quick cooking method, it’s the best lobster tail recipe for holidays, celebrations, and date nights at home. And while there are many ways to make lobster recipes, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make broiled lobster tail — it’s ready in just 20 minutes, including time to butterfly them.
Making this dish at home is also so much more affordable than getting it out at a restaurant (same goes for crab legs!). I’m going to cover everything you need to know: choosing the best lobster, how to butterfly lobster tails (the easy way), how to cook lobster tails (for the most tender result), make-ahead and freezing instructions, and plenty of side dishes to serve with lobster.
Why You’ll Love This Lobster Tail Recipe
- Sweet lobster taste with buttery flavor
- Delicate, tender texture
- Just 6 simple ingredients
- Ready in 20 minutes
- Easy cleanup
- Rich in protein and omega 3s
- Perfectly cooked every time
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking lobster tails, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Lobster Tails – This recipe works with both warm water and cold water lobster, but if you have a choice, get the latter. It has a whiter, firmer meat and tastes better. You can buy lobster tails at most grocery stores or at the seafood market (the freshest option), but I often prefer warehouse clubs because they have larger ones for a better price.
- Salted Butter – Adds flavor, locks in moisture, and helps with browning. I use salted butter and don’t need salt, but you could also use unsalted butter and add salt separately (you’ll need 1/8 teaspoon of salt, or more to taste, if your butter is unsalted). Feel free to add some black pepper if you like, too.
- Garlic – Use 2 fresh, crushed garlic cloves. Minced garlic is more likely to burn (and won’t mix with the other ingredients as well), so I don’t recommend it for broiled lobster tail. You can also substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder if that’s what you have on hand, but I think fresh tastes best.
- Lemon Juice – Not only does it pair perfectly with lobster recipes, lemon juice also helps make the flesh more tender.
- Smoked Paprika – For flavor. If you don’t have smoked paprika, then sweet paprika will work as well.
- Cayenne Pepper – I used just a pinch, so my broiled lobster recipe did not come out spicy, but you can add more if you like a kick.
How To Butterfly A Lobster Tail
The best way to broil lobster tails starts with butterflied lobster tails! While this may look complicated, I promise that it’s easier than you probably think. Here’s how to prepare lobster tails before you cook them:
- Cut the lobster shell. Using kitchen shears, cut down the center of the shell, all the way to the tail, but not cutting the tail. You want to cut through the top of the shell, but don’t cut through the bottom.
TIP: It’s fine if you cut through the lobster meat.
In fact, it cooks a bit more evenly if you do. The important part is not to cut through the bottom shell, though.
- Split the shell. Using your thumbs and fingers to spread open the shell. Gently split it open first, and then continue to open up the shell more, so that it separates away from the meat on the sides. If you see a dark line down the center of the tail (this is the intestinal tract), remove it with your hands. It’s safe to eat, but doesn’t look appealing.
- Pull lobster meat above the shell. Gently pull the lobster tail meat upward, separating it away from the bottom shell. Leave the end attached to the tail fin. Slightly push together the empty shell underneath and place the row of meat on top.
- Place butterflied lobster tail onto a lined baking sheet, flesh side up. Your homemade lobster tails are already starting to look like you got them from a fancy restaurant, even before cooking!
TIP: If you want to prevent curling, pierce a wooden skewer lengthwise through the center of each tail.
I skipped this step here, but you can see a visual in my grilled lobster tail post.
Best Ways To Cook Lobster Tail
Once you have it butterflied, there are several options for how to cook lobster tail. Here are the main ways, with pros and cons:
- Broiled – This method is in the oven under the high heat of the broiler. My easy lobster tail recipe is broiled! You can also bake lobster using a similar method to broiling, except using normal heat. However, I find that the high heat of broiling gets a more tender inside than regular baking.
- Air Fryer – Works similarly to broiling lobster tail, but uses your air fryer. Even though the temperature is lower, the cook time is actually very similar due to the air flow.
- Poached – Sometimes this is another term for boiled lobster, and sometimes it means simmering the shucked lobster tails in a layer of butter (called butter poaching).
- Boiled – This is one of the simplest methods, as it just involves cooking the tails in a large pot of boiling water. But, I find the flavor when you boil it is not as rich as lobster cooked with butter.
- Grilled – You can even cook lobster tails on a grill if you like! We don’t have nice weather enough during the year for this to be my go-to method, but I do love it during the summer months. Get the grilled lobster recipe here.
As you can probably guess, I think the best lobster recipe is broiled! The cook time is quick (less than 10 minutes!), requires minimal cleanup, and it’s super flavorful from the butter.
How To Cook Lobster Tail In The Oven
This section shows how to broil lobster tails, 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.
- Prepare the oven. Preheat the oven to Broil (500 degrees F or 260 degrees C). Set the oven rack such that lobster tails placed on a baking sheet would be 4 to 5 inches away from the broiler.
- Mix together butter sauce. Whisk together melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and cayenne.
- Brush lobster tails with butter. It’s important to coat all the lobster meat so that it stays nice and juicy — this is the best way to cook lobster tails! You’ll use about a tablespoon of butter mixture for each tail.
- Broil lobster tails. Place under the broiler, until the meat is opaque and slightly browned, about 1 minute per ounce of individual tail.
- Garnish and enjoy! Finish your lobster tail recipe with lemon wedges and fresh parsley. You can also serve with melted butter on the side.
How Long To Cook Lobster Tails?
The cooking time for broiled lobster will vary depending on the size of the tail. When broiling, the general rule of thumb for lobster tail cooking time is about 1 minute per ounce of individual tail.
For example, broil 10-ounce lobster tails for about 10 minutes total, and 5-ounce lobster tails will take about 5 minutes. If you want to be sure, use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness — the perfect internal temperature is 140 degrees F.
How To Cook Frozen Lobster Tails
Cooking frozen lobster tails is just as easy as fresh ones, and depending on where you live, it might be preferable to buy frozen tails. We’re in Minnesota, so I prefer to buy lobster frozen, as “fresh” is often previously frozen, anyway. You do need to thaw them first, so they cook evenly.
How To Thaw Lobster Tails
If your lobster tails are frozen, thawing them is a simple step in this lobster tails recipe. You have two options:
- Fridge: Thaw the lobster tails in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure to check your tails an hour or so before you plan on cooking them, to ensure they are fully thawed.
- Cold Water: Place lobster tails in a zip lock bag and submerge in water for 30-60 minutes, until thawed completely.
Storage & Preparing Ahead
Most seafood is best freshly cooked, and recipes for lobster tail are no exception. So, I recommend cooking lobster immediately before serving. However, you can prepare lobster tails ahead of time, with these tips:
- Butterfly the lobster tails in advance. Store covered in the fridge.
- Make the seasoned butter ahead. Melt, whisk together with other ingredients, and refrigerate.
- Do not brush on the butter mixture on the lobster more than 20 minutes before cooking. If you do, the acid in the lemon juice will start to “cook” the lobster. (Lemon juice on seafood for prolonged periods makes lobster or shrimp ceviche.)
- Brush and cook right before serving. Melt the seasoned butter, brush on the butterflied lobster tails, and broil. It takes just a few minutes!
How To Reheat Lobster?
If you have leftover lobster (what?!), you can still reheat and enjoy it. Place each lobster tail onto a large piece of aluminum foil and top with a generous pat of butter. Wrap the foil tightly around each tail. Reheat lobster tails in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5-8 minutes, until warm.
Can You Freeze Lobster Tails?
Freezing cooked lobster is not recommended, as the texture will change. You can freeze raw lobster tails, but it requires a special method. Bring 2 quarts of water, with 1/2 cup non-iodized salt, to a boil. Add lobster tails for 60 seconds, then plunge in ice water to stop the cooking process. Cool completely in the cold water, pat dry, then freeze in freezer bags. Preparing lobster tails for freezing this way will allow them to last for 9-12 months in the freezer.
What To Serve With Lobster Recipes
Now you know how to cook lobster tail, but what do you serve with it? I have you covered with side dishes and more:
- Garnishes – Lemon wedges and melted butter are a must in my book.
- Veggies – Try sauteed broccoli or roasted asparagus as easy, light sides to this broiled lobster tail recipe. For more hearty veggie options, pan fried brussels sprouts or creamed spinach are perfect.
- Potatoes – Such as mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, or for healthier alternatives, mashed cauliflower or roasted rutabaga.
- Surf And Turf – If you want to get fancy, you can pair the best lobster with a quality steak, such as sirloin steak or filet mignon, for a special-occasion surf and turf.
More Seafood Recipes With Wow Factor
Lobster recipes may be a popular special occasion seafood, but they aren’t the only one! Here are other popular ones to consider:
Tools For Cooking Lobster Tails
- Multi-Purpose Kitchen Scissors – If there’s one thing you need to have for preparing lobster tails, this is it! These shears in particular are sharper than half a dozen others I tried, including high-end brands.
- Nonstick Baking Pan – I love these pans so much. Easy to clean and nothing sticks!
- Silicone Basting Brush – For brushing on the butter mixture that goes on top of this easy lobster recipe.
Easy Broiled Lobster Tail Recipe
Best Broiled Lobster Tail Recipe (Fast & Easy!)
How to cook lobster tails perfectly: all you need to know! Learn how to butterfly them + the BEST broiled lobster tail recipe (in 20 minutes).
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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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 oven to Broil (500 degrees F or 260 degrees C). Set the oven rack such that lobster tails placed on a baking sheet would be 4 to 5 inches away from the broiler.
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 gently pull the lobster meat upward, separating it away from the bottom shell, leaving the end attached to the tail fin intact. Slightly push together the empty shell underneath and place the row of meat on top. Place the butterflied lobster tail onto the baking sheet. (See the post above for a visual of this process.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Brush the butter mixture over the lobster meat.
Broil the lobster tails until the meat is opaque and lightly browned, about 1 minute per ounce of individual tail. (For example, broil 10-ounce lobster tails for 10 minutes or broil 5-ounce tails for 5 minutes.)
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Serving size: 1 10-ounce 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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