How to Cook Frozen Lobster Tails
We think broiling is the best way to do it, but we'll walk you through four other techniques too.
By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen
Fact: Homecooked lobster tails are fancy and impressive. And when it comes down to it, they’re not hard to cook if you know how to do it — especially if you buy frozen lobster tails. They’re usually slightly more expensive than buying whole live lobsters, but they save you the hassle of dealing with live, wriggling creatures. Below, we walk you through how to store, thaw and prep frozen lobster tails. As well as how to cook them a variety of ways, including broiling, steaming, boiling, baking and grilling.
What are the best lobster tails to buy?
There are two types of lobsters: warm water lobsters and cold water lobsters. The labels on many frozen lobster tails won’t call out which variety they are, and that’s fine. But if you do have an option to choose between warm water and cold water, opt for cold water lobsters. Their meat tends to be sweeter, more tender and less mushy.
Can you cook frozen lobster tails without thawing them?
You can cook certain types of frozen seafood without thawing it first, like salmon (see our Lemon Butter-Baked Frozen Salmon and Pan-Fried Honey-Garlic Frozen Salmon). But you’ll want to thaw lobster tails before cooking them, otherwise they’ll end up tough.
How to thaw lobster tails
Place your lobster tails in large bowl or container then transfer to the fridge to thaw a day before you want to cook them. Thawing lobster tails slowly in the fridge prevents the meat from sticking to the shell. As a general rule of thumb, don’t keep frozen lobster in the freezer for more than three months.
How to broil frozen lobster tails (Food Network Kitchen’s preferred method)
We tried lobster tails every which way — steamed, baked, grilled, broiled — and our favorite is broiling. Why? It’s fast and foolproof.
- First, you’ll want to butterfly your thawed lobster tails. This is a technique you’ll often see at restaurants: lobster tails and the flesh inside split into two pieces. Cut the top shell of the lobster tails lengthwise down the middle with kitchen shears. Then cut through the tails with a knife to split the tails into two pieces.
- Place the lobster halves flesh side up on a wire rack inside a baking sheet. Brush the flesh with butter and season with salt.
- Broil the lobster tails until the shells turn bright orange the flesh is opaque and cooked through and the tails begin to curl, about 4 minutes for 5- to 6-ounce lobster tails.
How to steam frozen lobster tails
Probably the most traditional way to cook lobster tails, steaming is faster than boiling.
- Place a steamer basket inside a large pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Pour water into the pot until it comes about two inches up the sides.
- Bring the water to a boil. Add the lobster tails to the steamer basket in a single layer and cover the lid.
- Cook until the lobster meat is opaque and white. Test for doneness by cutting a slit in the bottom tender shell and peaking in at the meat.
How to boil frozen lobster tails
Typically, you serve boiled lobster tails in the shell. Your guests get the fun activity of breaking them open and prying out the meat. Boiling is a great option if you don’t own a steamer basket; just make sure you have a pot that’s large enough to fit all the lobster tails so they’re completely submerged in water.
- Stick a skewer through each thawed lobster tail. The skewer isn’t necessary, but it’ll prevent it from curling, which makes for a prettier presentation.
- Drop the tails one at a time into a large pot of salted boiling water.
- Cook a 5- to 6-ounce lobster tail for about 5 minutes. Maine Lobster has a great guide about how long to boil different sized lobsters.
- Transfer the cooked lobsters to a bowl of ice water.
- Serve them with lemon halves and butter.
How to bake frozen lobster tails
Baked lobster tails usually have a fancy presentation that you might recognize from restaurants: the lobster meat is pulled up through a slit in the shell and bakes on top of it. Here’s how to DIY.
- With kitchen shears, cut a slit down the length of the top lobster shell.
- Slide a spoon underneath each shell half, separating the shell from the lobster meat.
- Pull the lobster meat up through shell, leaving the very end of the tail inside the shell to connect everything.
- Brush the lobster meat with butter and season with salt.
- Bake the lobster tails in a 350 degrees F oven until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees F.
- Serve the lobsters on top of their shells for a gorgeous presentation. And, if you want to get creative, you can even stuff the bottom shell with another component of your meal… like Instant Pot Polenta, a perfect pairing for lobster.
How to grill frozen lobster tails
What are two things that both scream “summer”? You guessed it: grills and lobster tails. Grilling has several benefits. First, it allows you to cook a big batch of tails. And second, it’s very easy to see when lobster tails are done.
- First, butterfly the lobsters. Cut the top shell of the lobster tails lengthwise down the middle with kitchen shears. Then cut through the tails with a knife to split the tails into two pieces.
- Brush the lobster meat with butter and season with salt.
- Place the lobster halves shell-side down the grates of a medium-high grill.
- Grill until the shells are bright right and the juices that come out of the shell turn white.
Or, you could just make lobster wellington
If you’re feeling creative, instead of preparing your lobster tails with one of the traditional techniques above, turn them into lobster wellington by wrapping the tail meat with blankets of buttery puff pastry.
Save the beef for a rainy day and make lobster Wellington for an elegant twist. Succulent lobster tail, buttery spinach and herbed mushrooms find a cozy home wrapped inside flaky puff pastry--perfect for a special celebration at home.