How to Butterfly Lobster Tails

The first step in learning how to cook lobster tails is understanding how to cut a lobster tail for grilling, broiling, steaming, baking, and other cooking methods. One way to prep a lobster tail is to butterfly it. Butterflying a lobster tail means to cut open the hard-top shell through the meat. Then you spread the tail into two even halves. This is easy to do and helps the meat cook evenly. Learn how to butterfly lobster tails, then find our favorite recipes that show how to cook lobster tail in the most irresistible ways!

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 meatier tails than Maine lobsters and no claws. 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.

Get the Broiled Lobster Tails with Garlic-Chili Butter recipe pictured above

How to Butterfly Lobster Tails in Two Steps

Do you cut lobster tail before cooking? The answer is most always yes! Most of our recipes for lobster tails call for butterflying them before cooking.

However, there are exceptions. Sometimes, when lobster tails will simply be boiled, butterflying is not necessary. However, if your recipe specifies to butterfly the lobster tail, here's how to do it:

1. Cut the tail

Hold a lobster tail in one hand with the hard-top shell facing up. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut through the top of the shell and through the meat, but stop just before the bottom shell. Do not cut through the back end of the lobster tail. 

2. Separate the meat

Using your thumbs and fingers, separate the meat. Gently spread the halves of the tails apart, keeping the meat attached near the back end. Now the tail is ready to brush with butter, season as desired, and broil until the lobster meat is opaque.

How to Cook Lobster Tail

Lobster tail tastes great broiled, boiled, steamed, grilled, and baked. You can even cook lobster on the stove-top. Here are a few links that show you how to cook lobster tail:

How to broil lobster tails

How to bake lobster tails in the oven

Tip: If you have a recipe that calls for steamed lobster tail, here's how to do it:

  • Thaw two 8-ounce lobster tails, if frozen.
  • Butterfly the lobster tails as directed above.
  • Place a steamer basket in a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket. Bring water to boiling.
  • Add lobster tails to steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat. Steam for 8 to 13 minutes or until lobster is opaque.
  • How to remove lobster tail from body: Remove the lobster from the steamer basket. When cool enough to handle, pull the lobster from the shell.


Other Ways to Try Lobster Tail

Now that you've learned how to prepare a lobster tail for grilling, broiling, steaming, and other cooking methods, check out these great recipes for lobster tails:

Lobster Rolls: Transform a boiled lobster tail recipe into a luscious sandwich!

Lobster Tails with Chive Butter:  Now that you know how to prepare lobster tail for grilling, this recipe gives you the lowdown on grilling it!


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