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Tips for How to Grill the Perfect Lobster

grilled lobster

This guest blog post comes from Kevin, who writes for They’re a trusted source of tips and tricks for how to make some of the best smoked or grilled lobster you’ve ever had. Read below for some awesome info on a very tough cook!

The Perfect Grilled Lobster at Home

Nothing says extravagance more than lobster. Whether it’s the bright red-orange shell set against the creamy white meat or its delicious taste, it is a treat to enjoy. That’s especially true if you grill it. Unlike other BBQ favorites like ribs, seafood cooks quickly. Even marinating it takes less time. It’s also the perfect foil for compound butter to make it more special.

Ready, set, grill!

Whole Lobsters or Lobster Tails?

You can prepare the lobster either whole or just the tail. The former involves some more prep and probably some parboiling, depending on its size. You also have some latitude with cooking times. Suffice to say that most likely, it’ll take your grill longer to preheat than it’ll take to cook them. The primary difference when preparing this delicious seafood is that… It’s either done or overcooked with nothing in between.

Timing, therefore, is of the essence. Fortunately, the lobster itself makes it easier with its evident color change. However, it’s not surefire, so we’ll give you some other tips for judging doneness.

We also have to address the elephant in the room. If you get whole lobsters, you’re going to have to dispatch them first. Luckily, we have some advice on that score, too.

You’ll find lobster tails sold frozen. If your grocery store has them on sale, you might find them thawing nicely at the seafood counter. You must thaw them first, but even that process is quicker than prepping any meat.

If you buy live lobsters, you should choose the most active ones in the bunch. Select ones that are similar in size. Please, keep the bands on their claws.

Grilled Lobster Preparation

Let’s start with the easier of the two options. Preparing lobster tails involves cutting the hard shell with kitchen scissors and opening it up to reveal the meat. You can also skewer them to make it easier to turn them on the grill and keep them straight for a more attractive presentation. You can also remove the intestinal vein. You can halve them, which will reduce your cooking time.

Whole lobsters are a bit more involved. The quickest and perhaps preferable way to do the deed is by dropping them in boiling water. We suggest it as prep for grilling to allow for more even cooking. The trick with them is the different thicknesses of the shell throughout the animal. That affects the time on the barbie.

The claws are the thickest. Therefore, we suggest removing them after parboiling your whole lobster for about 4 minutes and dropping them in a bowl of ice water. Alternatively, you can cover them as they cook to ensure they are done at the same time as the rest of the meat.

Like the tails, you can also halve the whole lobsters. It will speed up cooking. Remove the intestinal vein, green tomalley (liver), and black roe, if present.

There is also another benefit of doing this prep for either one. You’ll expose more meat to the smoky goodness of your grill and have more surface area for yummy flavored butter. That is, after all, why you’ve chosen this cooking method in the first place, isn’t it?

Firing Up the Grill

We prefer charcoal as our heat source of choice for lobster, but wood-fired pellet grills also do the trick. Most people opt to grill because of its unique flavor. The ideal cooking temperature is 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can do the hand test to gauge when it’s ready. Keeping your palm above the coals for 5–7 seconds puts you in the ballpark.

Baste your prepared lobster with melted butter or olive oil. Then, season it lightly with salt and pepper. We like to continue with this process as it cooks. You can add some fresh herbs or a blend like herbs de Provence to the baste for a tasty variation on the theme. However, you may find that the grilled taste adds more than enough flavor.

Begin by placing the lobster on the grill, flesh side down. For tails, leave them for about 5–7 minutes for whole and about 3 minutes for halves. Whole lobsters can cook for about 5–6 minutes if halved. Flip the lobster onto the shell side and continue cooking for the same amount of time. While that’s going on, baste them generously with melted butter.

Lobster is low in fat. The butter adds that delightful succulence to the seafood and makes it easier to get to the meat when it’s done.

Color is one way to judge if the lobster is ready for the table. You can also pull the smaller legs or antennae of the whole one. If they come out, it’s time. Another surefire way is to use an instant-read thermometer to take the guesswork out of it. We suggest using it, especially for larger tails and whole ones. The temp you’re shooting for is 135–140 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s Lobster Time!

Unlike other meats, lobster doesn’t have to rest. You can dig it right away. We suggest having plenty of melted butter available for dipping. If you’re looking for a wine to serve, you can’t go wrong with an equally buttery Chardonnay. If you want to kick it up a notch, spring for a bottle of Champagne and make it a real feast.

Grilling lobster isn’t difficult. It simply involves taking the same care you’d do for making sure your steak is medium-rare and not well-done. The smoky flavor makes the prep worth the effort. We think you may have a new favorite grilled seafood recipe to put on your rotation with the BBQ ribs and hamburgers.

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