8 Ways to Cook Lobster Tail Perfectly Every Time

Lobster may seem fancy, but it's easy to cook. Try our fast and easy methods for making a tender, moist lobster tail.

Updated April 4, 2023
Large lobster tail served with white wine

Lobster tail is a delicacy, and it's as easy to prepare as it is delicious. It can be ready and on your table in as little as about 30 minutes, so quickly that it's weeknight accessible. So why not add lobster to your weeknight rotation instead of saving it for a special occasion? With the best ways to cook lobster tail in your back pocket, your weeknight meals are about to get a lot more interesting.

How to Cook Lobster Tails in the Instant Pot

We promised you 30 minutes or less, and this sure-fire method is going to get you there fast. Plus, it's so, so, so, so, so easy! We promise.

  1. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut along the spine (the rounded top part) of the shell for the lobster tail. Split it open and use a sharp knife to remove the black vein that runs along the top of the meat.
  2. Add 1 cup of water to your instant pot. If you want to get fancy, you can add some aromatics like a little chopped shallot, a sprig of fresh tarragon, and a lemon cut in half, but that's totally optional. Add the steamer basket or wire trivet.
  3. Put the lobster tail(s) in the steamer basket or on the trivet so they don't touch the liquid.
  4. Put the lid on the instant pot and pressure cook on high for one (yes, you read that right, one) minute.
  5. Quick release the steam and serve with some melted butter.
Quick Tip

The black vein in the lobster meat won't do any harm, and it doesn't really affect the flavor or texture of lobster, but some people find it unappetizing. So, if you want to save even more time, it won't hurt anything to just skip the step where you remove it.

How to Boil Lobster Tail

Boiling is also super easy, although it takes a few minutes longer than your instant pot. This is the best method to use if you have fresh lobster tails as it will preserve the flavor. Cooking in water helps keep the lobster moist, but overcooking will make it tough.

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water and add a few teaspoons of salt.
  2. Add lobster tails one at a time, making sure you don't overcrowd the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Lower heat to medium and cook for one minute per ounce (e.g. 6-ounce lobster tails should cook for six minutes). The lobster is done when the flesh is white and opaque.
  5. Remove lobster tails from the water using tongs. Make sure you drain each tail over the pot as you remove it from the water. Let the tails cool for a few minutes before serving.
Quick Tip

To prevent lobster tails from curling while cooking, place a skewer down the middle of the tails.

How to Broil Lobster Tails

If it's a pretty tail you want, then this cooking method delivers, so it's a great way to prepare lobster tails for company. You need to be pretty attentive for broiling, watching that your lobster doesn't overcook. It's worth the extra attention, though. When you do it right, broiling yields tender and succulent lobster meat that cooks quickly and has deeply concentrated flavor.

  1. Preheat the broiler to high.
  2. Place the lobster tails on a medium baking sheet.
  3. With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, carefully cut the top of lobster shells lengthwise.
  4. Pull the shell open slightly and remove the black vein with a sharp knife.
  5. Season the meat with salt, pepper, and a few of your favorite herbs and spices. Try dried thyme or basil. Dot each tail with 2 tablespoons butter.
  6. Broil the lobster tails for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the lobster meat is opaque, and the butter is melted.

How to Poach Lobster Tails

Poaching is a gentler method of boiling lobster. The poaching liquid never reaches a boil, so the lobster cooks more slowly. The meat will be very tender using this method. You can also add tasty stuff to your poaching liquid like broth, white wine, butter, and fresh or dried herbs that will lightly flavor your lobster. You can try the broth or water method or add tons of rich flavor by butter poaching.

Broth or Water Poached Lobster

Use broth, stock, or water and other ingredients (like a splash of white wine and some chopped fresh fennel) for flavor.

  1. Place 4 cups of liquid in a large skillet.
  2. Add other ingredients such as sprigs of thyme or rosemary, whole peppercorns, lemon slices, celery stalks, garlic cloves, or bay leaves.
  3. Heat the liquid over medium heat. The poaching liquid should not boil, but when the surface of the liquid starts to move, add the lobster.
  4. Poach the lobster for 5 to 7 minutes or until the tails curl and the shells turn bright red.
  5. Remove the lobster from the poaching liquid with tongs, letting any liquid drain out of the shell.
  6. Serve immediately.

Butter-Poached Lobster

Lobster tails poached in butter are incredibly indulgent in the best way possible. This recipe uses lobster tails removed from the shells. If you aren't comfortable removing the shells yourself, ask the butcher or fishmonger to do it for you. The lobster will be very tender and full of flavor using this cooking method.

  1. Combine ¼ cup of water and 2 sticks of butter in a large skillet and heat over medium low heat.
  2. When the butter has melted, add your shucked lobster tails (thawed if frozen). Do not let the liquid come to a boil.
  3. Cook the lobster for 5 to 6 minutes, then carefully turn each tail. Cook for 1 to 2 minute on the second side.
  4. The lobsters are done when the tails curl and turn a darker color. A meat thermometer should register 145°F.

Grilled, Baked, and Steamed Lobster Tails

grilled lobster tail

There are several other cooking methods that will produce great-tasting lobster, depending on what you prefer.

  • You can grill lobster tails to impart a smoky flavor to the meat. Take the meat out of the shell, remove the vein, brush it with avocado oil, and grill on high heat for about 5 minutes on the first side, and 2-3 on the second side. Brush with butter before serving. If you want to serve it on the shell for presentation, grill the shells as you grill the meat and then place the meat on the shells to serve.
  • You can bake lobster tails in a 350°F oven. Split the tails and remove the black vein with a sharp knife. Brush with avocado oil. Then, bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven on a baking sheet.
  • You can also steam lobster tails in a steamer basket over boiling water or broth with aromatics added. Add the lobster tails to the steamer basket, and cover the pot. Steam until the tails are bright red and the meat opaque, 8-10 minutes.

Additional Tips

Follow helpful tips to make and serve lobster with gusto.

  • If your lobster tails are frozen, thaw before cooking. Seal the lobster tails in a zipper bag and put them in cold water, changing the water every 15 minutes or so until the meat thaws. You can also thaw them in the fridge overnight.
  • Serve the lobster tails with melted butter and a few wedges of fresh lemon. Put about 3 to 4 tablespoons of melted butter into a ramekin and give one to each of your guests.
  • Seafood forks are a nice touch to serve with lobster tails, since they will help your guests remove the meat from the shell.
  • Pay attention to instructions given to you about preparing fresh lobster tail. If this seafood isn't cooked promptly, bacteria can grow that can make you sick.
  • Always remove any leftover lobster meat from the shell and refrigerate it promptly. You can freeze cooked lobster for up to six months; thaw it in the refrigerator before use.

The Best Ways to Cook Lobster Tail

Don't wait for a special occasion to experiment with lobster tail recipes. Cooking lobster tails is fast and simple. Whether you're having surf and turf with a perfectly cooked steak or using the meat in a lobster roll or salad, once you know all the ways you can cook lobster, you'll find plenty of occasions to eat it.

8 Ways to Cook Lobster Tail Perfectly Every Time