Lobster is one of those foods that is perfect for a special occasion. It looks impressive and it tastes amazing. It can also be a little bit intimidating to cook–especially if you’re faced with a whole live lobster. Lobster tails are just as delicious and still look fancy, but they are super easy to prepare and much less messy to eat. I’ve broken down how to bake a lobster tail into 10 simple steps.
Step 1: Make a butter marinade & preheat oven
In a small bowl combine 4 Tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Microwave about 1 minute, until butter is completely melted. Stir to combine. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
The marinade adds flavor and moisture which ensures a tasty and moist lobster tail.
Step 2: Make a butterfly cut
Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut a straight line down the top of the shell until you reach the fan-shaped portion of the tail.
Don’t worry about trying to cut just the shell–you should be cutting some of the meat too. Just keep your shears towards the top of the shell and you should do fine.
Step 3: Crack the shell
Fold a paper towel in half. Lay the lobster tail on its side on top of the folded paper towel. Wrap the paper towel around the tail and press your hand down on the shell until it cracks.
The paper towel is there to protect your hand; you could also use a clean kitchen towel. It will take some force to crack the shell, so be bold and go for it.
Step 4: Open the shell
Remove the tail from the paper towel and set it upright. Use your hands to open the shell like a book.
The shell might crack a little bit more–that’s normal.
Step 5: Lift the meat from the shell
Use your fingers to lift the tail meat up and out of the shell. Keep the portion near the fan-shaped tail attached to the shell.
The meat sometimes sticks to the bottom of the shell a bit. Be gentle but firm and it should come loose.
Step 6: Close the shell
Use one hand to close the shell while your other hand keeps the meat above the shell.
You are creating a stage to display the lobster meat on.
Step 7: Arrange the meat
Lay the lobster meat on top of the shell. Use kitchen shears to finish butterflying the meat, if necessary.
Doesn’t it look pretty?
Step 8: Apply marinade
Cut two pieces of foil that are a few inches longer than the lobster tail. Lay the tail on top of both pieces of foil. Brush the marinade over the meat.
Toss any unused marinade. Since it touched raw meat it should NOT be used for dunking the cooked meat later.
Step 9: Make a foil packet
Lift up one layer of the foil and fold it around the lobster tail to create a packet. Repeat with the other layer of foil.
The double layer of foil keeps the moisture in and prevents the packet from leaking.
Step 10: Bake the packet(s)
Place the packet on a baking sheet. Bake according to the chart below. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully open the packet–it will be hot–and remove the tail with a pair of tongs and place on a serving plate.
You did it!
Baking Times Chart:
|Size of Lobster Tail||Cooking Time|
|6-8 ounces||8-10 minutes|
|8-9 ounces||10-12 minutes|
|10-12 ounces||12-14 minutes|
|12-14 ounces||14-16 minutes|
Accompaniments & Notes:
Lemon wedges and melted butter for dunking are essential accompaniments to a baked lobster tail. You can get butter warmers like the ones in the picture above by clicking here.
You must start with a completely thawed lobster tail. To thaw a frozen tail, place it in a sealed bag and soak in cold water for 30-60 minutes. Or, you can refrigerate the tail (on a plate, covered with plastic wrap) overnight.
The cooking times in the chart are for baking 1-4 lobster tails at a time. Use the low end of the cooking time if you are baking 1-2 lobster tails, and the higher end of the cooking time if you are baking 3-4 tails. If you are baking more than 4 tails you should use two baking sheets, rotate the sheets halfway through the cooking time, and cook for the highest end of the cooking time in the chart.
Resources & Credits:
I adapted information from the sources listed below in order to create this post.
- Lobster Gram – I used the guide that came with the frozen lobster tails purchased from this site to help me explain how to thaw & butterfly the lobster tails
- LobsterHelp.com — I adapted their marinade and used their information to create the foil packets
- The Cooking Fishmonger — I used their cooking times to create the chart
A big thank you to my husband for all of his help taking photographs and adapting the butter marinade. And for using his frequent flyer miles to get us the free lobster tails too!