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  • Writer's pictureRock Rousseau

HOW TO Perfectly Butterfly Lobster Tails

Updated: May 25, 2020

Nothing quite compares to a skillfully prepared lobster. While the delicious taste speaks for itself, these foods deserve a little effort on presentation. One of the ways to make lobster more attractive and easier to eat is to butterfly the tail. It also allows for marinating in advance and basting midway through cooking. The meat will retain its own juices, yet fully absorb your marinade, and it will also soak in the smoke from grilling or complementary flavors from broiling, roasting, or baking.

Sharp kitchen shears, butter knife, marinating brush, softened butter, preferred herbs and spices (I like smoked paprika and garlic butter)

Before you begin butterflying the lobster tail, make sure it is not frozen and has been refrigerated.

To butterfly Lobster Tails:

1. Cut the shell lengthwise, toward the tail fin. Place the lobster shell side up and line up the bottom blade right under the shell, not within the meat itself. Hold the tail with one hand while you slowly cut down the center of the shell with the other. Continue cutting the upper-shell all the way to the base of the tail. Do not touch the tail fan or under-shell, they should be left attached and intact.

2. At the base of the tail fin, cut a slit on both sides of the cut, forming a "T" shaped incision. This will help to create a "window-like" opening making it easier to remove the meat without cracking pieces of the shell.

3. Gently pry apart the shell by grabbing each side of the lobster shell with your thumbs and fingers to further spread the halves apart. Pry away the shell so the meat loosens at the incision, but keep the majority of the meat connected to the under-shell.

4. Separate the meat from the under-shell using a butter knife to wedge between the meat and the under-shell. Do this on both sides of the shells.

5. Press down with your thumbs and push the lobster meat apart with the shell halves.

6. Gently lift and tug the meat so it slowly pulls away from the bottom shell.

7. Continue pulling the meat out of the shell. Stop once you reach the base near the tail fin so that the meat stays attached.

9. Pull the meat upward. Squeeze the shell halves close together to close the gap and lay the meat on top of the shell.

10. Using a sharp knife, Gently slice the meat 3 times down the top.

11. Spread out the meat from the slits and fold the meat over the sides of the shell.

12. Marinade immediately and brush with softened butter and seasoning. I recommend garlic butter and season with paprika, parsley and two full cloves of garlic. You could also sprinkle ground chili or add Cajun spices on top to give the tail a spicy flavor.

13. Sometimes the tail will curl when cooking. Use a wooden or metal skewer, inserted lengthwise through the tail meat to keep it flat and prevent curling.

14. The lobster tails are now ready to cook. ​You can broil, bake, steam, grill, or roast your lobster tails after you butterfly them. Whichever method you use, the heat will cause the tail meat to puff up even further over the shell halves. About halfway through cooking, take out the lobster tail and baste it with more butter marinade to heighten the flavor.

If you're grilling the tail, the internal temperature of the meat should reach 135°F, while baked tails should be between 140 and 145°F. After cooking is complete, remove the skewer and the tail will remain flat. Serve with melted butter for dipping and lemon wedges.


Check out our Playlists on YouTube for perfectly themed music to set the ambiance of your meal! For this recipe, we recommend:

Playlist: Tales from the Sea

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