How Long Do You Cook Lobster Tails?

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Lobster can be a decadent main course, but preparing a whole one at home can be difficult, even for experienced cooks, because lobsters are cooked while alive. If you want to enjoy the taste of lobster without as much work, purchase lobster tails. Lobster tails contain a large portion of the meat and are often sold frozen. The cooking time for a lobster tail depends on the cooking method you choose.


If you have frozen lobster tails, defrost them in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Frozen lobster tails not only take longer to cook, but they also might cook unevenly and could be hard and rubbery in some places or undercooked in others.

Before you start cooking, use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut vertically down each side of the shell. Cut as close to the meat as possible, then make one horizontal cut across the top. You can then peel the shell and expose the meat. Having the meat visible eliminates any guesswork.

Checking Doneness

While lobster tails have estimated cooking times, use the tail's appearance and texture as the final judge. Raw lobster meat has a see-through appearance, so you'll know the lobster is done when the meat is opaque. Cooked lobster also will flake when you try to cut through it with just a fork, while raw lobster is firmer.

Low Heat

Lobster tails can be cooked using a variety of methods, but low heat is the most foolproof because steaming is quick and forgiving. The lobster is placed into a large pot or deep pan and covered in about 2 cups of water, wine or broth. Cover the pot or pan with a lid to trap the steam so it can gently heat the lobster meat. It usually takes between five to eight minutes for the lobster tail to cook, depending on the size of the tail. Because the tail is cooking in liquid, it is more likely to remain tender.

High Heat

Broiling or grilling produces a smoky flavour, but the high heat can cause the lobster tail to dry out if it's cooked too long. It can take from three to eight minutes per side, depending on the size of the tail, so if you choose either of these methods, carefully supervise the tail while cooking.

Baking is another high-heat method, but it is less likely to dry out the lobster tail. The baking time for lobster tail depends on its weight. A small 56.7gr. tail might take 12 minutes at 232 degrees C, while a 340gr. tail can take up to 30 minutes at that temperature.

To prevent the lobster from overcooking, wrap it in foil before baking. The foil will trap the steam and add moisture. Check the tail every five minutes or so when baking it. If you accidentally overcook the tail using a high-heat method, serve it with melted butter or your favourite sauce to provide some moisture.

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