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How to Butterfly a Lobster Tail

How to Butterfly a Lobster Tail

Last Updated on 17th December 2021 by

Do you want your homemade lobster to look like a gourmet dish? The secret is learning how to butterfly a lobster tail. This is simply a method of cutting the hard shell of the lobster tail so that we meat spreads out in two equal halves.

If you do that then when you cook the lobster tail, this meat should be really tender and juicy and easy to eat. Once you learn how to butterfly cut a lobster tail, you may not even want to buy the full lobster anymore because how easy it is to prepare just the tail. You get plenty of meat from it, and doesn’t require as much work as preparing the entire lobster.

I will show you a simple method for how to butterfly a fresh lobster tail so you can do it yourself. Just keep in mind that not all lobster recipes require that you butterfly the tail. Pay attention to the recipe you are using to determine if butterflying is necessary.

How to Butterfly a Lobster Tail for Grilling

This is a fairly simple process, but I’ll walk you through it step by step. By the time we’re done, you will know how to butterfly a lobster in the shape of a heart and make it look just like a professional chef prepared it.

When cutting a lobster tail to butterfly, you’ll use kitchen shears rather than a carving knife or some other kind of kitchen knife. Hold the lobster tail in one hand and make sure the hard shell’s top is facing up.

Then, use kitchen shears to cut through both the top shell and the meat. Do not cut the bottom shell and do not cut all the way through the wider part of the tail.

Next, use your fingers to spread open the two halves of the tail. As you open the tail, make sure the meat stays attached to the end of the tail. The next part is important to get that fluffy, professional look.

While keeping the base of the tail still attached, pull the meat out from the back of the shell and lift it over the shell. Then, squeeze the two halves of the shell back closed underneath the meat so that your meat is sitting on top of the shell.

This is how to butterfly a lobster tail on grill or for oven baking. It is now ready to cook.

How to Butterfly a Lobster Tail for Steaming

If you have pulled open the tail and pulled out the meat like I showed you above, then the tail is prepared for steaming. How long you steam the lobster for will depend on how you prepared it. If the meat is still inside the shell, it may take longer to cook.

If you pulled the meat out, then it should take about 5 to 6 minutes of steaming for the tail meat to cook all the way.

Before you start to season the lobster tail, you should prep it completely. The seasoning you use should be for the meat rather than the shell, so wait to season the lobster until you pull the meat out of the shell and prepare it for steaming.

Once you know how to butterfly a lobster tail to season, your lobster will be much tastier and appealing to eat.

Do You Butterfly before or after Cooking?

One question I see come up quite often about butterflying lobster tails and preparing them is whether it is best to butterfly the tails and open them up before cooking or after cooking them. This is an area of confusion for many people who are inexperienced at cooking lobster tails.

I showed you how to butterfly a lobster tail for grill time, and that requires that you butterfly the tail before grilling it. The reason for this is that the meat will cook faster when it is outside the tail. It also becomes puffy and tender and retains its juices better.

It’s easier to tell when the meat is done cooking when it is outside the tail as well, and there’s less chance that it will dry out.  

This method for how to butterfly a lobster tail smoked, broiled, or baked is always the same. You should really open up and butterfly the lobster tail and prepare the meat before cooking it.

You won’t get that same puffy and appealing look for the meat if you cook it inside the tail. This is why cooking experts recommend that you prepare it ahead of time and open up the tail before using your cooking method of choice.

Whether you prefer to steam, smoke, bake, or broil your lobster tail, opening up the tail and allowing the meat to sit out is definitely the best way to prepare it.

It’s okay to open the lobster tail after cooking it, but it is a little bit more dangerous. You have to deal with the escaping steam and heat from the tail that could burn you.

Are There Any Parts That Need to Be Removed from the Lobster Tail?

The meat inside the lobster tail is all completely edible, but there are parts of the lobster tail you may not want to eat. No one should be eating the shell, but you also need to be aware that there’s lobster feces in the tail. How do you get rid of that?

This is located in the back of the lobster tail and it’s a dark vein that can be easily removed. There is also a part called the tomalley which is the lobster’s liver and pancreas. It’s all edible, but you can remove it. Look for a black vein and a few green parts in the tail and you’ll be removing the less appealing parts of the lobster before eating.

You can pull out that black vein and scoop out the green tomalley before eating the lobster.

Removing these parts can be done before you cook the lobster and should be done as part of the prepping process, if you want to remove them. It is better to remove them before cooking, so they don’t affect the taste of the lobster.

It’s also easier to remove them while the lobster is uncooked and cool rather than risking burning yourself and trying to remove them after cooking a lobster.



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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!