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How to Grill Lobster Tails + Grilled Lobster Tail Recipe

Lobster tails are easy to prepare yet so delicious and elegant. Learn how to grill lobster tails on a gas or charcoal grill.

You CAN make an amazing lobster dinner at home. Sometimes you just need a few tips and tricks to get started. The first of those being where to get your lobster.

How to Grill Lobster Tails (charcoal or gas grill)

Where to Buy Lobster Tails

There are many sources for lobster tails including seafood markets & restaurants, grocery stores, or online seafood retailers. Online retailers are a great option if you’re looking for a specific type of lobster that you can’t find locally, such as the highly prized cold water Maine Lobster. Costco also carries a few varieties of lobster tails (be sure to read the label) depending on the location.

Live, fresh, or frozen, you may choose whole lobsters or just lobster tails, or even just lobster meat. If you order online be sure to know the shipping times if you are planning an event or a dinner party–don’t get burned by delays in shipping!

How To Buy Lobster Tails

When choosing the type of lobster tail to buy it often comes down to availability, budget and personal preference. Here are a few things to look for when buying lobster tails.

Warm Water and Cold Water Lobster Tails

Warm-water lobster tails are typically smaller, less expensive and have a milder flavor than cold water lobster tails. Most of the lobster tails you find available at grocery stores are a spiny clawless species known as Rock or Spiny Lobsters, such as the California Spiny lobster.

Cold-water lobster tails are larger, more expensive and have a slightly sweeter, more succulent meat. They are commonly found in Maine, Canada, Australia, and other northern and southern regions.

How to tell the difference: In addition to size, cold water lobsters are clawed lobsters whereas warm water lobsters have a front set of antenna looking legs. Cold water lobsters will also have spots or yellow strips on their tails.

Fresh or Frozen Lobster Tails

For some this is a debatable subject and again it’s going to come down to personal preference and how the lobster tail is frozen. Today, most lobster tails, especially Maine lobsters, are flash frozen, where you freeze it super cold and super fast, within hours of being caught. This rapid freezing process helps preserve the quality, texture, and nutritional value and most people cannot tell the difference in taste. If you’re unsure of the freezing process, ask the lobster provider or check the labels.

Grilled Lobster Tail Recipe

Lobster Buying Tips

  • Check labels: Many labels will indicate cold or fresh water, location the lobster was caught, fresh or frozen, wild caught etc.
  • Choose the right size lobster: Look for medium to small lobsters, the bigger lobsters are just older lobsters plus smaller lobsters will cook more evenly and often are more affordable.
  • Cold vs warm: For best quality, flavor and consistency opt for cold lobster tails. Warm lobster tails are still very tasty not to mention more affordable.
  • Male vs female: For grilling purposes, there is little difference between male and female lobsters.
  • Hard-shell or soft-shell lobsters: These are the same lobsters it just depends whether they have shed their shell to make room for a larger one. While soft shell lobsters have less meat, some feel the meat is sweeter.
  • Discoloration: Fresh lobster should have a mottled blue-green color and the meat should have a translucent white color.
  • Smell: Lobsters should have a clean smell and absolutely should not smell bad.
  • Source: Buy from a reputable place and ask around if you’re unsure.

How to Prepare Lobster Tails

  1. Cut the top of lobster shell lengthwise down the center with kitchen shears, taking care to keep tail fin intact.
  2. Following the cut in the shell, take a knife or kitchen scissors and cut a slit in the meat about half an inch deep.
  3. Pull apart shells slightly from meat to ready for seasoning.

Cutting is easier with kitchen scissors, rather than using a knife.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and instructions.)

Lobster Grilling Times

Lobster tails should be grilled to 135°F to 140°F internal temperature, don’t overcook the lobster by going over 140°F. I highly recommend using a digital instant-read thermometer for the best grilled lobster.

These are estimated times since every grill, including charcoal and gas grills, vary:

  • 4 ounce lobster tail: 4-7 minutes
  • 6 ounce lobster tail: 6-9 minutes
  • 8 ounce lobster tail: 8-11 minutes
  • Greater than 8 ounce Lobster tail: 11-15 minutes

Flip halfway through.

Tips for Grilling this Lobster Tail Recipe

  • If you place a skewer lengthwise through your lobster tails they’ll stay flat while cooking. This makes them cook more evenly as well as make a better presentation once they’re done.
  • Keep a spray bottle nearby to quickly put out flareups. This is a great general grilling tip but especially for lobster tails and other seafood that cook very quickly.
  • If your lobster tails are frozen, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re short on time, place them in a well-sealed plastic bag and place them in a bowl of cold (never warm or hot) water. Don’t cook them from frozen or they won’t be nearly as tender.
  • Always grill over indirect heat. Lobster cooks quickly and the heat should be gentle as it’s very easy to overcook them.
  • Don’t remove the lobster’s shell completely. The shell helps protect the meat from cooking too quickly and drying out.
  • Whatever lobster tail recipe you use, be sure it includes basting halfway through cooking. This not only adds great flavor but will help to keep your lobster moist and succulent.
  • Use a bamboo skewer to prevent the tail from curling.

Save the Shells for Lobster Stock

You can save the shells in Zip-Loc bags and store them in the freezer. The shells make for an easy lobster stock that can be used for lobster bisque, lobster stew and lobster sauce and even gravy. It’s a quick and easy way to use canned lobster in a recipe that also calls for lobster stock.

Lobster is easy to prepare yet so delicious and elegant. This lobster tail recipe and tips will make you a lobster cooking pro!

How to Grill Lobster Tails + Grilled Lobster Tail Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes

Lobster tails are easy to prepare yet so delicious and elegant. Learn how to grill lobster tail on a gas or charcoal grill.


  • 4 lobster tails (thawed, 10 ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high (400-450°F).
  2. Melt butter and garlic together, add salt and mix thoroughly.
  3. Cut the top of lobster shell lengthwise down the center with kitchen shears, taking care to keep tail fin intact. Following the cut in the shell, take a knife and cut a slit in the meat about half an inch deep.
  4. Carefully loosen meat from the shell, keeping the fin end attached. Brush some garlic butter over the meat.
  5. Place lobsters cut side down on cool side of grill. Grill for 5-7 minutes, until the shells are bright in color.
  6. Turn the tails over and generously baste with garlic butter. Grill for another 4-6 minutes, basting occasionally until the lobster meat reaches 140°F internal temperature and is an opaque white color. (Watch the meat very carefully – the difference between succulent, tender meat can be as little as one minute too long on the heat.)
  7. Serve with additional melted butter, if desired.


If grilling with frozen lobster tails, thaw in the refrigerator prior to cooking.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 342mgCarbohydrates: 3gNet Carbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 23g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

More great seafood recipes

Kristy Bernardo
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Tuesday 12th of May 2015

I also didn't like sharing the price tag of a lobster dinner. It's just so not explainable.

You gave out really good tips here. And nothing really beats the flavor of the well-cooked lobster tail. Thanks for this!

Kristy Bernardo

Wednesday 13th of May 2015

My pleasure, Maureen!


Sunday 8th of February 2015

Thanks for the tips! I've always wondered why the lobster we ordered at the restaurants look so nice and why I couldn't seem to get them to look as pretty when I make them at home.

Kristy Bernardo

Tuesday 10th of February 2015

I'm really glad you found them useful, Claire!


Sunday 10th of August 2014

RT @ThatSkinnyChick: Lobster Tail Recipe - How to Cook it Like a Pro |#recipe #foodporn #lobster via @thewickednoodle


Wednesday 6th of August 2014

RT @CookTheStory: Ohh, I could go for some of this ~~> Lobster Tail Recipe | How to Cook it Like a Pro from @thewickednoodle…


Wednesday 6th of August 2014

Need a lobster tail recipe? Kristy Bernardo of the Wicked Noodle has some good grilling tips. #lobster

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