If you love indulging in sweet, succulent lobster but don’t want the hassle of purchasing and cooking a live lobster, boiling frozen lobster tails is a convenient option. However, nailing the right boiling time can ensure your frozen lobster tails come out tender, juicy and perfectly cooked.
Factors That Affect Boiling Time
When boiling frozen lobster tails, keep these factors in mind that can impact overall cooking time:
- Size of the tails – Larger, thicker tails will take longer to boil than smaller, thinner ones.
- Frozen vs thawed – Frozen tails require more boiling time than thawed. Thaw first for less time in the pot.
- Quantity being cooked – Boiling a large batch will increase boiling time.
- Level of doneness – The more well-done you want the lobster, the longer the boil.
- Elevation – Higher elevations require longer boiling due to lower boiling temp.
- Additions to the water – Salt, lemon or other flavorings can impact boiling.
Average Boiling Times
While boiling times vary based on several factors, here are general guidelines for average-sized frozen lobster tails:
- 1 lb of frozen tails = 8-12 minutes
- 1 frozen tail (5-7 oz) = 5-7 minutes
- 2-3 frozen tails = 10-12 minutes
- 4 frozen tails = 12-15 minutes
- 6 frozen tails = 15-18 minutes
For thawed tails, deduct 2-3 minutes from the times above.
Step-By-Step Boiling Instructions
Follow these steps for perfectly cooked frozen lobster tails:
1. Thaw The Tails
- Thaw frozen tails overnight in the fridge or in cold water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Prepare A Large Pot
- Fill a large stockpot 2/3 full with water.
- Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat.
3. Add Any Flavorings
- Consider adding sea salt, lemon, garlic, herbs or spices to the boiling water.
4. Gently Add Tails
- Once water is boiling rapidly, gently add tails.
- Make sure they are fully submerged.
5. Start Timer
- Begin timing according to the recommended boil times based on quantity.
6. Monitor Boil
- Maintain a steady rolling boil. Adjust heat as needed.
- Do not open lid or disturb tails while boiling.
7. Check for Doneness
- Check for bright red shell and opaque, firm flesh.
- Cut into thickest part of meat to inspect center.
8. Remove and Serve
- When done, immediately drain and rinse tails with cold water.
- Serve with melted butter, lemon wedges and enjoy!
Having trouble getting the perfect boil? Here are some common issues and solutions:
- Undercooked: Increase boiling time in 1 minute increments until opaque and firm.
- Overcooked and rubbery: Don’t boil tails for longer than needed. Remove immediately if overcooking.
- Bluish tint or translucent flesh: Lobster is undercooked. Return to boiling water for 1-2 more minutes.
- Bland flavor: Add seasonings like salt, garlic, lemon juice or herbs to the boiling water.
- Lobster sticks to shell: Do not pry meat from shell after cooking. Use shears to cut shell lengthwise instead.
Cook Frozen Lobster in an Instant Pot
An Instant Pot is a convenient, hands-off way to cook frozen lobster tails. Here’s a simple Instant Pot method:
- Thaw tails first before placing them in Instant Pot.
- Add 1 cup water to Instant Pot and place trivet inside.
- Arrange tails on trivet and close lid securely.
- Cook on manual high pressure for 3 minutes per 1 lb of tails.
- Allow pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes before serving.
Alternate Cooking Methods
While boiling is most common, consider these alternatives for cooking frozen lobster tails:
- Steaming – In a pot, steam over boiling water for 4-6 minutes depending on size.
- Grilling – Thaw tails, split top, brush with oil and grill for 8-12 minutes, turning once.
- Broiling – Partially thaw tails, split open shell and broil 4-5 inches from heat for 4-6 minutes.
Serve your cooked frozen lobster tails with:
- Melted butter – The classic accompaniment, melted butter enhances lobster’s sweetness.
- Lemon wedges – A bright, acidic complement to rich lobster.
- Clarified butter – Imparts buttery flavor without breaking down like whole butter.
- Garlic butter – Compound butter with fresh garlic and herbs.
- Dipping sauces – Think lemon aioli, cocktail sauce, remoulade, chimichurri and more.
- Fresh herbs – Chives, dill, parsley add freshness and color as a garnish.
Freezing Cooked Lobster
Have leftover cooked lobster tails or meat? Here are tips to freeze properly:
- Allow lobster to cool completely before freezing to prevent crystallization.
- Remove lobster meat from shells and place in airtight plastic bags or containers.
- For brothy dishes like lobster bisque, cool completely before freezing. Leave room for expansion.
- Add a bit of lemon juice or alcohol like vodka to the lobster meat to prevent freezing solid.
- Frozen, cooked lobster keeps for 2-3 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Get Creative With Leftovers
Put leftover lobster meat to good use in these delicious recipes:
- Lobster rolls – The quintessential New England sandwich with lobster meat, mayo, celery, chives on a toasted, buttered roll.
- Lobster mac and cheese – Tender lobster chunks baked with cheesy macaroni for ultimate comfort food.
- Lobster quesadillas – Sauté lobster meat with onions and peppers for a cheesy quesadilla filling.
- Lobster bisque – Puree lobster shells into a rich, velvety tomato-based soup.
- Lobster risotto – Cook rice in lobster stock and stir in lobster meat just before serving.
- Lobster omelet – Add chunks of lobster meat to a fluffy omelet for a luxury breakfast.
Mastering Frozen Lobster
With proper thawing, boiling times, and a cooking thermometer to assess doneness, you can master cooking frozen lobster tails at home. Adjust boiling times based on quantity, size and degree of doneness you prefer. And be sure to experiment with different seasoning combinations and creative leftover recipes. Soon you’ll be enjoying tender, sweet lobster at home any time you crave it.