The Great Lobster Roll Debate: Maine- Versus Connecticut-Style

By
Left: Maine-style lobster roll | Right: Connecticut-style lobster roll

Anyone born and raised in New England will tell you that nothing epitomizes summer like a heap of sweet lobster meat piled onto a soft, buttery hot dog bun — a treat that’s best enjoyed with a side of piping-hot French fries and clear ocean views.

A New Englander will also tell you there are two main variations on the theme, Maine style and Connecticut style, and natives of both states are known to fiercely defend their regional recipe as the gold standard of lobster rolls. To an outsider, the differences are subtle; many sandwiches come with a leaf of soft Bibb lettuce, a spritz of lemon juice, salt and black pepper. But a true aficionado knows that the differences between these predominant styles of roll are a bit more nuanced. Not sure you could spot the difference? Find out how to do it, below.

Maine

It’s as simple as this: If the meat is cold, it’s a Maine lobster roll. In most cases, the meat is tossed with mayonnaise, tarragon and celery or scallions before it’s piled into a bun. Generally, it’s served on a “New England” or “Frankfurter” roll, which differs slightly from a standard hot dog roll in that the sides are flat and can be buttered on the outside and then lightly toasted or grilled. Lobster rolls in the U.S. are most commonly associated with the state of Maine, so the cold, tossed-in-mayo iterations are easiest to come by.

Partial to cool chunks of claw, tail and knuckle meat tossed in a delicate layer of mayo? Try Food Network Magazine’s Maine-Style Lobster Rolls with Mayonnaise.

Connecticut

Hold the mayonnaise and bring on the butter. That’s the attitude of Connecticut-style die-hards, who believe a lobster roll served warm is simply called a “lobster roll,” while a lobster roll served cold, as it is throughout most of the Northeast, is called a “lobster salad roll.” Another key trait that distinguishes a Connecticut roll from a Maine roll is the dressing. Essentially, there is none with a Connecticut roll — just a side of melted butter that’s used to douse the lobster meat right before taking the first bite.

Like the sound of warm, buttered lobster meat? Try Food Network Magazine’s Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls with Butter.

Already tried out the two classics? Check out more ways to experiment with lobster rolls this summer:

BLT Lobster Rolls

Loaded Lobster Roll

Curried Lobster Rolls

Grilled Southwestern Lobster Rolls

Ellie Krieger’s Lightened-Up Lobster Roll