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My two greatest joys of summer are grilling and fresh shellfish. So, I'm sure you can only imagine just how excited I am when it's time to grill up some fresh lobster tails (hint: VERY excited). Sure, cooking 'em is great. But it's summer time, baby! Light up the grill and let's take the shellfish magic outside, shall we?! 

Prepping and grilling these bad boys may seem intimidating (yes, kitchen shears are involved), but it is my personal mission to make sure that you can give yourself (and maybe a few others, if you're feeling generous) the gift of a home-cooked, grilled lobster tail this summer. Here's how to cook lobster tails on the grill.

raw lobster tails on sheet pan
Credit: Sara Tane

Buy the Lobster

Since you're just going to grill the tails, there's no need to buy a whole, live lobster (save that for lobster stock and lobster risotto). Instead, look for frozen or fresh (which were likely previously frozen) lobster tails at your local fish market or counter. Don't fret about buying frozen — most lobster tails are immediately flash frozen after they're caught, so frozen tails are still a high-quality product. 

Typically, you should aim to get one tail per person, but you can always scale up or down, depending on what else you might be preparing (or how much you like your friends). Thaw the tails by placing them on a plate or sheet pan in the refrigerator overnight, or let them sit in a bowl of cold water until thawed.

Butterflying a lobster tail
Credit: Sara Tane

Butterfly the Tails

Sure, you could *in theory* drop the tails on your grill as is, but because one side is so much thicker than the other, you're better off butterflying the tail. This basically means that you're slicing the tail in half, vertically, to make the tail slightly thinner and allow the tail to cook more evenly. In order to do this, you'll need to use kitchen shears to cut through the center of the top shell of the lobster all the way down to the tail.

Skylight Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears
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Then, use a knife to cut the tail meat in half, without sending the knife through the bottom of the lobster shell. Once you've created this opening, use your fingers to gently open the top shell like a book and wiggle the flesh loose from the shell, without completely removing it.

Brushing lobster tails with oil
Credit: Sara Tane

Prep the Tails and the Grill

Before the tails hit the grill, make sure to brush them with a neutral oil, like canola, and give them a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and make sure the grates are clean and oiled.

lemon garlic butter in pan
Credit: Sara Tane

Make a Garlic Butter

While you can certainly opt to dunk your grilled lobster meat in clarified butter, you can go one extra step and make a simple garlic butter. Melt some butter (about 1 tablespoon per tail) in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and some fresh parsley and cook until the garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute). Season it with some salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

grilling lobster tails, flesh side down
Credit: Sara Tane

Grill 'Em Up!

Once the grill is hot, place the tails, flesh side down, like an open book on the hot grates. Once the shells turn red and the flesh starts to peel away from the grill, flip them over.

grilling lobster tails, flesh side up
Credit: Sara Tane

The cook time will vary based on the size and number of tails, but it is a relatively quick cooking process (I'm talking less than 10 minutes). Once you've reached an internal temperature of 135 to 140 degrees F, you're good to go.

garnishing grilled lobster tails with garlic butter
Credit: Sara Tane

Plate and Serve

Once the tails are done cooking, transfer them to a serving platter and brush the flesh liberally with your garlic butter. Give them an extra squeeze of lemon and maybe an extra parsley garnish. Dig on in, champ. You just grilled some incredible lobster tails.