When you want to make lobster at home but you don't want to wrestle with a whole lobster, just go for the lobster tail. It's meaty and easy to cook, and delivers all the lobster goodness you're hungry for. And if you want to skip the cooking altogether, you can buy ready-cooked lobster meat. Read on to learn what to look for when you're buying lobster tail and get several methods for cooking lobster tail at home.

By Vanessa Greaves
August 05, 2020
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Buying Cooked Lobster Meat

A good seafood market often carries cooked lobster meat, or you can order it online (just search for cooked lobster meat and you'll get several options). When you're buying cooked lobster meat, be sure to specify whether you want lobster tail meat only, or a combination of tail, claw, and knuckle meat. You can store cooked lobster meat in the fridge for up to 3 days, but do try to eat it up right away for the freshest flavor.

Try this recipe for Lobster Rolls

This classic East Coast sandwich uses cooked lobster meat. "I've paid over ten dollars for one of these lobster rolls in Cape Cod and it wasn't half as good or half as big as the ones my Mom taught me to make," says Starr, who submitted this 5-star recipe.

Buying Frozen Lobster Tails

Frozen tails are good choices if you don't want a whole lobster, or if you're making a recipe that calls for a little lobster meat. Available in a variety of sizes, these are perfect for thawing and cooking in a variety of ways. Due to the freezing process, these won't be quite as good as fresh live lobster, but they can certainly be worth the convenience.

Buying: There are two kinds of frozen lobster tails on the market: warm-water and cold-water. You want to buy only cold-water lobster tails because the meat is more firm and of higher quality.

Thawing: As tempting as it might be, it's not a good idea to cook lobster while it's still frozen because the meat will become very tough.

  • The best way to thaw frozen lobster tails is by letting them thaw slowly in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • If you don't have 24 hours to wait, seal the frozen tails in a plastic bag and run them under cold water for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Microwave-thawing is tricky because the meat will toughen up if it starts to cook.

How to Cook Lobster Tails

Boiled Lobster Tails

Make sure frozen lobster tails are completely thawed before cooking.

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Place tails in the boiling water and simmer, uncovered, until the shells turn red and the meat turns opaque and tender. The rule of thumb is to boil them for about 45 seconds per ounce. Small lobster tails could take as little as 2 to 4 minutes; large tails can take 6 minutes or more.

Just like shrimp, lobster will continue to cook in its shell after you remove it from the water, so be sure to pluck them out of the water before they overcook.

Steamed Lobster Tails

  • For steaming lobster tails, follow the instructions for steamed whole lobster.
  • The rule of thumb is to steam lobster tails for about 1 minute per ounce.

This video for Steamed Lobster Tails shows you how easy it is to steam lobster tails on your stove top.

Grilled Lobster Tails

Fire up your grill for this cookout favorite. Remember, smaller lobster tails will take less time to cook.

  • Here's how to grill lobster tails. Split the lobster down the middle with a heavy chef's knife to open it up and expose the flesh.
  • Use basting sauces, herbs, and spices for extra flavor when grilling or broiling.
  • Cook for ten minutes on a hot grill. The shell will turn a charred red as it cooks; if it still seems underdone, tent the lobster with foil to allow it to fully cook off the direct heat.

Watch the video and try this recipe for Grilled Rock Lobster Tails.

Broiled Lobster Tails

For this method, you'll cut open the shells and season the meat before broiling. Watch the video and try this recipe for Broiled Lobster Tails.

Baked Lobster Tails

Baked lobster tails are often cut open and seasoned or filled with a savory stuffing.

Watch the video and try this recipe for Chef John's Lobster Thermidor.

Air Fryer Lobster Tails

Don't want to turn on your oven? Pull out your air fryer and pop in your lobster tails.

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