Cooking lobster tails perfectly can be a challenge for many home cooks. Whole lobsters at the fish market can range in size from 1 pound to as large as 3 pounds. Cooking times differ, depending on the size. It is very easy to overcook lobster. The meat can become dry and chewy. That is a bummer, especially when lobster can cost as much as $30.00 per pound.
The cooking of just the tail is a bit easier to control than a whole lobster. I have boiled, steamed, baked, broiled, and grilled lobster tails. I think one of the best methods for cooking lobster tails is to do it low and slow in your Masterbuilt Smoker. The lobster meat will stay moist by adding some form of liquid to the water bowl at the base of the smoker.
Tips and Method for Smoking Lobster Tails
It is nearly impossible to find fresh lobster tails. You will likely only have frozen tails available at your market. Buy frozen raw lobster rather than pre-cooked. You are looking for 4 to 5 ounces each.
The day before smoking the lobster tails, place them in the refrigerator to defrost thoroughly. Take them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before preparing them for the smoker so they can begin to come to room temperature.
You will need to cut the shells of the tails to expose the meat so that any seasoning and smoke can both infuse into the flesh. It helps to loosen the meat from the sides of the shells. You could also cut the lobster tails lengthwise in half. Doing this allows the tail halves to serve as vessels to hold the butter, similar to a small boat. If you are worried about the tail halves curling, skewer them to hold their shape. This also makes for a nice presentation and easy handling. The smoking time might be a bit less if using halved lobster tails.
While it isn’t 100% necessary, I recommend seasoning the lobster meat with butter and fresh herbs or olive oil and your preferred dried herb blend. If using butter, make double what you will season the raw tails with. You will want extra for dipping the cooked lobster meat into. You can melt the extra butter right in the smoker before serving. This will add some nice smokiness to the dipping sauce.
Preheat the smoker to 225°F while you prepare the lobster tails. Add mild wood chips, such as alder, to the chip tray. For stronger smoke, try hickory or oak. Fill the water bowl with plain water and a few slices of fresh lemon. You could also add some dry white wine to the water.
After prepping the smoker and the lobster, place the tails, cut side up, directly on the smoker rack. Make sure the drip tray is in place. Or place a disposable sheet pan on the shelf just below the rack holding the tails. Smoke for approximately 45 to 60 minutes until the internal temperature of the lobster reaches 145°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer.
Approximately 10 minutes before the lobster is finished smoking, place the extra butter mixture in an ovenproof saucepan in the smoker to melt the butter into a sauce. Pour the butter sauce into individual ramekins and serve with the lobster. It is fun to pull out the meat from the shell yourself. Have forks and plenty of napkins on hand.
What to Serve with Smoked Lobster Tails
If you are feeling adventurous, make this a fully smoked seafood meal, just like a clam bake. Try smoking some fresh mussels along with the lobster tails. The mussels will take less time, so adjust accordingly.
Add to this smoked corn on the cob. Corn will take approximately 45 minutes longer to smoke, so start the ears earlier on the upper rack of the smoker. If corn is not in season, smoke some whole russet potatoes and serve with sour cream. To round out the meal, I am partial to a slightly sweet chopped salad that can balance out all the smokiness. Watermelon salad is a great addition if smoking in the summer.
While you are enjoying the backyard “clam bake”, you can smoke a fruit cobbler for dessert. Cobblers take approximately 60 minutes to cook in a smoker. Smoked peach and blueberry cobbler would be the perfect ending to this meal.
Smoked Lobster Tails with Herb Butter
- 6 lobster tails, thawed
- 2 sticks salted butter at room temperature (1 cup)
- 3 TBS minced parsley
- 2 TBS minced tarragon (can use cilantro or thyme)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
- Dry white wine
- 6 lemon slices
- Wood chips
Total time:1 hour – Prep time:15 min – Smoke time:45 min – Serves:4 people
1. Remove a rack from your smoker. Place wood chips in the tray of the smoker. Fill the water bowl with 1/2 water and 1/2 white wine. Add the lemon slices to the bowl. Preheat the smoker to 225°F with the vent open.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter, parsley, tarragon, garlic, and lemon juice. Set aside.
3. Using a sharp chef’s knife or kitchen shears, carefully cut a slit into the hard shell (top) of the lobster from the open end to the tail. Don’t cut through the tail. Using a spoon, or your hands, loosen the lobster meat from the sides of the shell just enough to allow for the butter to seep down inside and around the meat.
4. Place the lobster tails, cut side facing up, on the rack. Place a tablespoon of the butter mixture inside each tail. Place the remaining butter mixture in an ovenproof pan or baking dish.
5. Place the rack inside the smoker. Cook for 20 minutes. Add another spoonful of the butter mixture onto the lobster meat. Continue to cook until the meat reaches 145°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer, approximately 25 more minutes. Continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes if needed. At 35 minutes, place the remaining butter mixture in the smoker to warm it up during the last 10 minutes of cook time.
6. Place the warm butter in individual ramekins and serve with the lobster tails and your favorite side dishes. You will need a fork to remove the meat and plenty of napkins.