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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

The Best Way to Cook Lobster Tails on the Grill



Grilled lobster tails make for a decadent treat!
Grilled lobster tails make for a decadent treat.

Nothing you put on the grill says lush, decadent, buttery better than lobster. But, these delightful, 10-legged crustaceans weren’t always the delicacy we consider them today.

Native Americans on the Northeast coastline often used lobsters as fertilizer. Colonial Americans regarded them as fit for children, the poor, and indentured servants.

In fact, by the 1800s, indenture contracts often had a clause about serving lobster no more than 3 times a week. They probably didn’t grill them with butter!

When lobster tails are at a good price, it’s fun and easy (as well as supremely impressive), to grill them and serve to family or friends.

Impress your family and friends!

Sizzling lobster on the grill is visually enticing for your family and guests, and the taste is amazing. Preparing lobster tails on the grill is easy and will really make an impact on your guests. Let’s just jump into it so you can enjoy this tasty protein with no fuss.

The most common varieties of lobster you’ll find at the grocery are American or European clawed lobsters. Of the hundreds of varieties of lobsters, these cold water varieties are the most commonly consumed. There are also tropical varieties of lobster without claws that can be eaten.

Preparing the clarified herb butter

Lobster tails just scream for a buttery coating. Because their flavor is delicate, yet distinct, your herbs must compliment without overwhelming the lobster meat flavor.

A bit of minced garlic is a great start. Add some finely minced fresh chives, and a little bit of lemon pepper. Be conservative. If you want, just use the butter by itself.

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For the best butter flavor, and to keep the butter from burning on the grill, use clarified butter:

  1. Put a stick of unsalted butter in a small pan over medium heat.
  2. Heat until the butter separates and froth forms on the top, with milk solids at the bottom.
  3. Skim off the froth and pour into a container.
  4. Add the herbs and whisk to mix.

Learn which mortar and pestle is best for grinding spices.

Preparing the lobster for grilling

Who's up for some surf and turf?
Who’s up for some surf and turf?

Put the lobster on a cutting board, flat or bottom side down and shell up.

For recommendations on some meat-safe cutting boards, check out this post.

With a very sharp knife or kitchen shears, pierce the shell down the middle and cut down to, but not through, the tail. Then, using the same sharp knife, cut the flesh on the same cutting line, however, be careful not to go all the way through.

Spread the shell and flesh open a bit, like opening a book. This is called “butterflying” the lobster tail.

Turn the lobster tails over so that the bottom side is up. Lightly split the soft underside, just enough to have room to drizzle the flesh beneath with the clarified butter.

A good pair of kitchen shears is a must-have for the kitchen. Check out my favorite models.

Setting up the grill

Clean the grill grate and lightly oil with canola oil.

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Turn the grill to medium high to high heat. The lobster grills on direct heat.

Grilling the lobster tails

Place the lobster tails on the grill, shell side up and grill for about 4-5 minutes for 6-ounce tails.

Turn the lobster tails over, generously brush the clarified butter mixture into the cut flesh, reserving a bit of butter for drizzling over the finished product.

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Grill another 5 minutes, until the internal temperature of the lobster flesh is 135 degrees F. Please always ensure that your foods are cooked to safe temperatures by using a reliable thermometer.

Remove the lobster to a plate and let it rest a few minutes.


Using a dull knife, and starting from the large side opposite the tail, loosen the flesh from the bottom shell. Pull the flesh up and out of the shell a bit, laying it back on top of the shell, leaving it attached at the tail. If this is not working out perfectly, it’s better to serve in the shell than to lay the flesh into pieces before plating.

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Drizzle the last of the clarified butter over the flesh, then lightly sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano cheese. Quarter a lemon and add it to the plate. Prepare for screams of delight!

What to serve with lobster tails

The go-to side dish for lobster is a baked potato. If you go this route, the potatoes can be baking before you bring the lobster out. A good rule of thumb is not to use a much smaller potato than the lobster tail so that the potato doesn’t overwhelm the star of the dish!

If you’re in a hurry, cook the potatoes in a microwave. You can see my recipe for microwave-prepared sweet potato here.

However, aside from potatoes, good side dishes include a hearty salad, rice, risotto, or polenta.

Got leftover cooked crab? Find out how long it’ll stay fresh and how to properly store it.

For more recipes for delicious seafood dishes, check out this post on how to make perfect smoked salmon. You might also like this article on how to cook pan-fried walleye fillets.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Bryce Heitman

Bryce is not a real professor, but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

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