Cooking lobster can seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple with the right techniques. When paired with garlic butter, the sweet lobster meat becomes an irresistible culinary delight. If you want to learn how to make restaurant-quality lobster at home, then follow this comprehensive guide.
Buy High-Quality Lobster
The key to amazing lobster is starting with the freshest seafood possible. When selecting your lobster, look for a few things:
- Active lobsters: They should move their legs and claws when handled. Avoid limp, lethargic lobsters.
- Hard shells: The shell should not indent when pressed, which indicates dehydration. Opt for heavy, hard-shelled lobsters.
- Intact antennae: Breakage may signify rough handling. Ensure the antennae are in one piece.
Your fishmonger can also kill, clean and cut the lobster for you if requested. This minimizes work at home.
Prepare the Lobster Before Cooking
Once home, keep the lobster chilled until ready to cook. To prepare it:
- Split the tail: Use kitchen shears to cut straight through the top of the shell, stopping before the fin joint.
- Remove the digestive tract: Pull out and discard the thin digestive vein running through the tail meat.
- Remove rubber bands: Take off any restrictive banding around the claws. This prevents uneven cooking.
- Kill the lobster: Plunge a sharp knife into the cross marks behind the head to kill it swiftly before cooking.
Make the Garlic Butter
This easy compound butter adds incredible flavor when basted over the lobster as it cooks:
- Soften 1 stick unsalted butter and let it come to room temperature.
- Finely mince 4 garlic cloves or use a garlic press for ease.
- Chop 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves. Packed with flavor, this herb complements lobster beautifully.
- Mix together the softened butter, minced garlic, and chopped parsley. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Stir thoroughly until fully combined, then transfer the herbed garlic butter to a small ramekin for easy use while cooking.
For simple, no-fuss boiled lobster:
- Fill a large pot with water and add several tablespoons of salt. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Grasp the lobster from behind and plunge into the pot head first.
- Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes per pound. Check for doneness by looking for a bright red shell.
- Remove lobsters from the water and serve immediately with melted garlic butter for dipping.
Pro Tip: Add lemon wedges, fresh parsley or Old Bay seasoning to elevate the flavor.
To infuse even more flavor:
- Place lobster on a steamer rack set over 1-2 inches of boiling water.
- Pour garlic butter over the lobster and let it melt into the shell’s crevices.
- Cover and steam for 10-15 minutes depending on size. Don’t overcook.
- Baste with any remaining garlic butter right before serving for maximum richness.
Pro Tip: Add aromatics like lemon slices, bay leaves or wine to the steaming liquid.
For succulent, smoky grilled lobster:
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates to prevent sticking.
- Split lobster lengthwise and brush generously with garlic butter. Get into all the nooks and crannies.
- Grill flesh-side down first for 2-3 minutes until lightly charred.
- Flip and grill shell-side down for another 5-7 minutes until the meat is opaque.
- Baste frequently with garlic butter for delicious flavor infusion.
- Let rest 5 minutes before serving with any remaining garlic butter.
Pro Tip: Try adding fresh herbs, crushed red pepper or citrus zest to the garlic butter for a flavor boost.
For mess-free oven-baked lobster:
- Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up.
- Split lobster lengthwise and place flesh-side up on the pan.
- Spread garlic butter over every bit of meat so it melts beautifully into the lobster as it bakes.
- Roast for 10-15 minutes depending on size. The flesh should be opaque when done.
- Broil 2-3 minutes at the end to achieve a crispy, browned top if desired.
- Let rest 5 minutes before serving with any remaining garlic butter.
Pro Tip: Spread a layer of seasoned breadcrumbs over the garlic butter for extra crunch.
Air Fryer Method
For deliciously crispy, mess-free air fried lobster:
- Cut lobster tails lengthwise and brush liberally with garlic butter.
- Air fry at 400°F for 4 minutes to help the shell start crisping up.
- Flip and air fry 4 minutes more until the meat is just opaque. Don’t overcook.
- Baste with any remaining garlic butter and air fry 2-3 minutes for a crispy finish.
- Let the lobster rest for 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.
Pro Tip: Try adding a pinch of paprika or cayenne pepper to the garlic butter for a kick of heat.
Tips for Perfectly Cooked Lobster
Follow these helpful guidelines to ensure tender, juicy, flavorful lobster every time:
- Don’t overcook: Check frequently and remove lobster just when the meat turns opaque. Overcooked lobster will be rubbery.
- Rest before serving: Letting lobster sit 5-10 minutes after cooking allows juices to redistribute so meat stays moist.
- Baste frequently: Garlic butter adds incredible flavor, so brush it on often as the lobster cooks.
- Season generously: Lobster meat begs to be seasoned. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper.
- Enhance the butter: Mix in fresh herbs, spices, citrus or other flavor boosters to make the butter really shine.
- Serve with lemon: Bright, acidic lemon helps cut through the richness of garlic butter perfectly. Always serve wedges alongside.
Get Creative with Leftover Lobster
Leftover lobster meat is an amazing ingredient to have on hand. Here are some delicious ways to use it:
- Toss with pasta or rice along with garlic butter.
- Make lobster rolls served on buttery grilled buns with lemon aioli.
- Fill omelets, frittatas or scrambled eggs with bites of lobster meat.
- Mix into seafood salad, pasta salad or potato salad recipes.
- Stir chunks of lobster into clam chowders, bisques or tomato-based seafood stews.
- Top pizza with lobster meat after baking, then drizzle with garlic butter.
- Layer into decadent lobster mac and cheese for an indulgent twist.
- Use as a filling for stuffed mushrooms, clams, baked potatoes or pasta shells.
Leftover lobster is a stellar ingredient. Get creative with these ideas or make your own recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about cooking lobster in garlic butter? Here are answers to some common queries:
Can I use frozen lobster tails? Yes, frozen and thawed uncooked tails work just as well. May just need a minute or two less cooking time.
Can I use salted butter? Unsalted butter allows you to control the seasoning, but salted works in a pinch. Just reduce any added salt.
Is garlic powder an acceptable substitute? No, fresh garlic’s flavor can’t be replicated. Use jarred minced garlic if you don’t have fresh.
Can I bake, broil, sauté or slow cook lobster? Absolutely. Refer to temps and technique for each cooking method. Always add garlic butter!
How do I know when the lobster is done? Look for bright red shells and meat that is opaque throughout. Should feel firm, not mushy.
Can I prepare lobster ahead of time? Parcook lobster until almost done then chill. To serve, reheat by steaming briefly until heated through.
Satisfy Your Craving for Lobster
After following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be ready to cook restaurant-worthy lobster with garlic butter at home. From perfectly boiled and steamed to wonderfully grilled, baked or air fried, lobster shines when paired with rich, garlicky butter. Use these helpful techniques and tips to craft tender, juicy, full-flavored lobster. Then get creative with the leftovers! Satisfy your craving and impress guests with your culinary skills.