Here’s how to make the best lobster rolls we’ve ever eaten. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these rolls with perfectly cooked lobster tossed in a butter and mayo dressing are the best we’ve had. Read on for tips on cooking and preparing lobster for lobster rolls.
Related: We also love this easy shrimp salad.
The Lobster Roll of Our Dreams
Lobster rolls come with a lot of opinions. Mayo, butter, celery, hot, warm, the bun, it goes on. In Maine, you’ll likely see chilled lobster dressed in mayonnaise, while in Connecticut, it’s common to see the lobster tossed in warm melted butter.
The lobster roll of our dreams breaks through state lines and combines the luxury of warm lobster butter with the creaminess of mayonnaise. We avoid anything crunchy and only add the tiniest bit of chopped dill and chives for color and a little flavor. These are amazing, and I genuinely hope you try them.
How to Make Lobster Rolls
Let’s talk about the lobster first. We start with live lobsters and cook them ourselves. We created this lobster roll recipe with Chef Richard Hattaway, who’s adamant that you must cook your lobster correctly for the best rolls.
Plunging a whole lobster into boiling water cooks it, but it will likely overcook some of the meat. That’s why his method for cooking lobster breaks it into parts and cooks them for different amounts of time so that every bit of meat is tender and succulent. For example, he suggests five minutes for tails but only four minutes for smaller claws.
If you plan to cook your lobster at home, you must kill it. Our approach is quick and more humane than other options. Hold the lobster down on a cutting board. Find the faint cross on the shell (carapace) where the lobster’s head attaches to the body. With a large sharp knife, firmly insert the tip into this cross and push it down through the head, between the eyes. This action severs the spinal cord, instantly killing the lobster. The legs might twitch a little afterward, but the lobster is dead.
Now move on to separating the tails and claws from the bodies. We won’t use the lobster bodies in this recipe, but you can save them in the freezer for another day (they make incredibly delicious lobster mac and cheese–coming soon).
We boil the lobster pieces. The tails and larger claws take five minutes, while the smaller claws take four minutes. Allow the cooked lobster pieces to cool, then remove the meat. To easily remove the tails, use kitchen shears to cut down the top of the tail, then pull the sides back, cracking the shell slightly. The tail meat should pull out nicely.
For the claws, remove the knuckles from the claws (I wiggle them back and forth), and then use a knife or mallet to crack the hard shells, and then wiggle the meat out.
Small tweezers or chopsticks can help pull or push the leg and knuckle meat out.
When you’ve removed all the meat from the shells, toss it into a bath of melted butter (yum). Stop yourself from eating all of the lobster in the butter, and allow it to sit for a few minutes until it’s warmed through.
When the meat is warmed, toss it with some mayonnaise, herbs, and pepper. Then spoon onto lightly toasted rolls and enjoy.
Our Favorite Lobster Rolls
I’m not exaggerating when I say that these homemade lobster rolls with perfectly cooked lobster tossed in a butter and mayo dressing are the best we’ve had. For the most mouthwatering texture, start with live lobsters. Our method for cooking the lobster guarantees perfectly cooked lobster. If you are uncomfortable killing live lobsters, buy whole steamed lobsters or lobster meat.
For this recipe, we separate the claws and tail from the bodies. We won’t use the lobster bodies in this recipe, but you can save them in the freezer for another day (they make incredibly delicious lobster mac and cheese–coming soon).
You Will Need
4 whole lobsters, 1 ½ pounds each, or 20 ounces cooked lobster meat
2 tablespoons salt
6 ounces salted butter
1/4 cup mayonnaise, see homemade mayo
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
3 to 4 twists fresh ground pepper
4 hoagie or sausage rolls
- Prepare Lobsters for Cooking
1If your lobsters are live, pick up a lobster by holding it right behind the head, and lay the lobster on a cutting board. To protect your hand, use a clean dish towel to hold the lobster in place.
2Find the faint cross on the shell (carapace) where the lobster’s head attaches to the body. With a large sharp knife, firmly insert the tip into this cross and push it down through the head, between the eyes. This action severs the spinal cord, instantly killing the lobster. The legs might twitch a little afterward, but the lobster is dead.
3Remove the claws and tails. Separate the lobster parts by size: tails in one pile, large claws in another, and finally, all the small claws together in a third pile.
4Discard or save the lobster bodies for another recipe. The bodies can be placed into a freezer-safe container and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Cook Lobster
1Bring a large pot of water to a boil with two tablespoons of salt.
2Cook the tails for five minutes, transfer them to a plate to cool. Next, cook the large claws for 5 minutes. Transfer them to a plate to cool, and finish by cooking the small claws for four minutes.
3Remove the lobster meat from the shells when the tails and claws are cool enough to handle. For the tails, use kitchen shears to cut down the top of the tails, pull to open, cracking the back slightly, and then pull out the meat. For the claws, use a knife or mallet to crack open the claws and then remove the meat. Use tweezers or chopsticks to remove smaller bits of meat from legs and knuckles.
- Make Rolls
1Lightly toast four rolls.
2Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low, then place all of the lobster meat into the warm butter.
3After five minutes of sitting in the warm butter, spoon the buttery lobster meat into a bowl along with a few spoonfuls of the butter. The remaining butter can be saved in the fridge for other recipes (it’s lovely tossed with pasta).
4Gently mix in the mayonnaise, dill, chives, and pepper. Divide the lobster between lightly toasted rolls and enjoy.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. Fat and calories are likely too high since these calculations include all of the butter in the ingredients list. Not all of this butter is actually used in the rolls.