For special occasions — or making an occasion special — nothing tops fresh lobster. This decadent dish is even better with the addition of wood smoke flavor from a Traeger.
Cooking live lobster is certainly different than, say, cooking a pre-made burger patty. Many first-time lobster cooks find the experience nerve wracking. But if you follow these tips and watch our videos, you'll be fine.
If you're grilling a whole lobster, you must buy it alive. That's because lobster meat begins to degrade quickly as soon as they die.
The size of the lobster is also important. Buy lobsters that are at least 1½ pounds — smaller ones cook too quickly on the grill. That same size is also a good guideline for how much lobster to serve per person.
Your local seafood market will sell you the lobster in a special storage bag. Once you get them home, they will stay alive in the fridge for as long as 24 hours.
Grilling a lobster is fairly easy, but the preparation is unique. First, you have to humanely kill the lobster. The most humane way is to drive a very sharp knife through the lobster's head and back.
Boiling the lobster before grilling helps the meat set. If you grill without boiling first, the meat may stick to the shell, making it harder to pull out.
Before you kill the lobster, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and prepare an ice bath. Immediately after killing the lobster, add it to the boiling water, and boil for two minutes.
After the lobster has boiled for two minutes, remove it with tongs and place it in the ice bath. This will pause the cooking process (which you'll finish on the grill), and make the lobster safe to handle for the rest of the preparation process. Remove the lobster to a large cutting board when it is cool enough to handle, about five minutes.
The best way to prepare lobster for the grill is to butterfly it, so you can remove unwanted bits and have the meat directly exposed to the wood smoke of your Traeger.
Using a very sharp knife, split the lobster into two halves, lengthwise. Remove the tomalley, the soft, green bits which are the digestive organs, and discard.
We recommend seasoning lobster with what’s called a compound butter. Compound butter just means butter mixed with other delicious things. For lobster, we recommend a compound butter of several ingredients.
See the full recipe below.
Spreading the compound butter on the lobster is the final step before cooking.
It takes about eight minutes -- four minutes per side -- to grill butterflied lobster at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact time will vary, so be sure to check the lobster meat every few minutes to ensure it doesn't overcook.
It is not a good idea to put a live lobster on the grill. For one thing, there’s a possibility the lobster will move around on the grill. It is not considered humane to kill a lobster by slowly cooking it this way.
Cooked lobster is slightly firm to the touch and nontransparent. The meat will be white and can be easily separated by two forks.
If the meat is soft to the touch or still transparent, it needs more time on the grill.
Lobsters turn red when you cook them, but the pigment itself does not tell you whether the meat is perfectly cooked.
We recommend grilling lobster at a medium-high temperature of 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature helps the meat cook to a firm texture but also provides enough time for Traeger wood smoke flavor to penetrate the meat.
Following these tips will make the cooking process easier and enhance the flavor of your lobster.
Always serve grilled lobster with a side of melted butter for extra dipping. A little warm bread is nice too.
As far as side dishes -- frankly, when you make grilled lobster, most people won't be that interested in anything else you serve.
If the process of grilling a live lobster doesn't appeal to you, frozen lobster tails are a good option. Quality lobster tails, prepared properly, make for an unforgettable presentation and can still have that fresh-from-the-sea flavor.
To butterfly a lobster tail, use kitchen shears to cut down the middle of the shell toward the tail.
With your fingers, gently pull the meat up (without disconnecting it from the base of the tail) so it rests on the sides of the cut shell.
Using a small, sharp knife, make a slit in the middle of the meat, then spread it further over the shell.
The meat will expand slightly during cooking, enhancing the unique appearance of butterflied lobster.
Once you've butterflied the lobster tail, the only other preparation step is seasoning.
As mentioned above, we recommend making a compound butter — butter mixed with herbs and seasonings — to spoon over the meat before cooking.
You can make compound butter with whatever fresh herbs or other seasonings you like, but here's another mixture we recommend.
See below for the full recipe.
To cook frozen lobster tails, you must fully defrost them. Then, follow the preparation steps above.
Once the lobster tails are prepared, the cooking is simple. Preheat your Traeger grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, place the lobster tails directly on the grill, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch.
To avoid making lobster tail too dry, be generous with the butter mixture you drizzle over it before cooking. You can also add additional butter during the cooking process. The butter will help keep the meat moist.
These recipes have been tested to work specifically on a Traeger. Follow along, or make your own spin.
Cook time: 20 minutes
6 whole (1 1/2 lb) live lobsters
3 whole lemons, sliced
Flat-leaf parsley, for serving
1 1/8 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Cook time: 25 minutes
4 (8-10 oz) lobster tails
16 tablespoons (1 cup) butter
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Cook time: 20 minutes
1 Cup butter, softened
3 Clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 Teaspoon curry powder
1/2 Teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoon minced cilantro leaves
2 Tablespoon finely diced chives
4 (1-1/2 lb) live lobsters
lime wedges, for serving
fresh cilantro, for serving
Cook time: 15 minutes
6 lobster tails
1 1/2 lb. lump crab meat
3/4 cup butter
3 cups onion, diced
4 1/2 cloves garlic, minced
3/8 cup parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped
3 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
3/8 cup lemon juice
6 cups butter crackers