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How To Grill Lobster

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.

How to Grill a Whole Lobster

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.

How to Choose Lobster to Grill

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.

How to Prepare Lobster for the Grill

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.

This video shows the method in detail.

Do You Have to Boil Lobster Before Grilling?

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.

How to Butterfly a Whole Lobster

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.

How Do You Season Lobster?

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.

  • Flat-leaf parsley
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

See the full recipe below.

Spreading the compound butter on the lobster is the final step before cooking.

How Long Does It Take to Grill Lobster?

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.

Can You Put a Live Lobster on the Grill?

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.

How Can You Tell if Lobster is Cooked?

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.

Best Grill Temperature for Grilling Lobster

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.

Tips for Grilling Lobster

Following these tips will make the cooking process easier and enhance the flavor of your lobster.

  • Prepare your ice bath before you boil the lobster.
  • Use sea salt. Anything that comes from the sea tastes better with sea salt.
  • When you grill, start with the flesh side down. Then when you finish, the flesh side will be up so you can add a small amount of additional compound butter.
  • After the lobster is off the grill, and just before serving, add a final squeeze of fresh lemon and a dash of sea salt.

What to Serve with Grilled 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.

But having a side dish to contrast with the richness of the lobster is a nice touch. Something bright and acidic like coleslaw or 3-bean salad would be a good choice.

How to Grill Lobster Tails

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.

How to Butterfly Lobster Tails for Grilling

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.

How to Prepare Lobster Tails for Grilling

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.

  • Lemon juice
  • Paprika
  • Garlic salt
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped parsley

See below for the full recipe.

How to Cook Frozen Lobster Tails on the Grill

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.

How to Grill a Lobster Tail Without Drying It Out

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.

Grilled Lobster Recipes

These recipes have been tested to work specifically on a Traeger. Follow along, or make your own spin.

Grilled Lobster with Lemon Garlic Butter

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Main

6 whole (1 1/2 lb) live lobsters

3 whole lemons, sliced

Flat-leaf parsley, for serving

Lemon Garlic Butter

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

Grilled Lobster Tails

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4

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

Curry Grilled Lobster

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 8

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

sea salt

4 (1-1/2 lb) live lobsters

lime wedges, for serving

fresh cilantro, for serving

Stuffed Lobster Tail

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

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

lemon wedges