How to Butterfly Lobster Tails

Butterflying a lobster tail means to cut open the hard top shell through the meat. This is easy to do and helps the meat cook evenly. Plus, the cooked lobster meat puffs up and over the shell, giving the tail a showy restaurant-style appearance.

Buying Lobster Tails

Look for lobster tails in the fish department or the freezer case of your local grocery store. Most lobster tails you'll find are from spiny lobsters, which have no claws and meatier tails than Maine lobsters. They are generally marketed as rock lobster tails. Expect the tails to have a mottled, greenish-blue-brown appearance when raw. Plan on one (about 8-ounce) tail per person. If frozen, thaw the tails in the refrigerator.

1. Cut the tail

Hold a lobster tail in one hand with the hard top shell up. Using sturdy kitchen shears, to cut through the top of the shell and through the meat but stop just before the bottom shell.

2. Open the shell

Using your thumbs and fingers, spread the cut top shell apart and loosen it from the meat.

3. Separate the meat

With your thumbs, separate the meat. Gently pry the meat from the bottom shell, keeping it attached near the back end, and pull the meat upward so that it is partially on top of the shell halves. During cooking, the lobster meat will puff up and over the edge of the shell halves, making an attractive presentation. Now the tail is ready to brush with butter, season as desired, and broil until the lobster meat is opaque.

Learn how to boil lobster tails.


Our Favorite Lobster Tail Recipes

Broiled Lobster Tails with Garlic-Chili Butter

Lobster Tails with Chive Butter

Cheesy Grilled Lobster Tails


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