Baked Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter

updated Feb 8, 2024
Baked Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter Recipe

Baking lobster tails in the oven is a smart and easy way to cook them without any fuss or mess.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook20 minutes to 27 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
lobster tails on platter with sauce
Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

My husband is from New England and we go back to visit a few times a year, so I consider myself a part-time New Englander. We feast on a lot of whole lobster while we’re there — especially in the summer when the whole family’s together and a lobster dinner is both celebratory and fun. Although I’m partial to claw meat, most of the family loves tail meat, as the tails are meaty and easily come out of the shell in one piece.

I’ve played around with many methods of cooking lobster tails, including boiling, steaming, and grilling. But my recent discovery — baking the lobster tails — has blown all these other methods out of the water.

When cooked in a baking dish with a little water, which essentially creates a sort of steamer, the lobster tails come out perfectly done, not chewy, and ready to be drenched in lemon-garlic butter. Baked lobster tails is honestly one of the easiest ways to have a special seafood meal when you’re in a celebratory mood.

Quick Overview

How to Bake Lobster Tails

  1. Split the lobster tails. Start with thawed lobster tails. Using a combination of kitchen shears and a knife, cut through the harder top shell of the tail, then cut the tail meat in half.
  2. Place them in a baking dish. Add enough water into a 9×13-inch baking dish to cover the bottom. Place the lobster tails in the baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake the lobster. Bake the lobster until the flesh is just firm and no longer opaque. If you use an instant-read thermometer, you want the flesh to be 135°F to 140ºF in the thickest part.
  4. Make the sauce. While the lobster is baking, make the sauce. Cook garlic gently in melted butter, then add in parsley and lemon juice.

Can Lobster Tails Be Cooked in the Oven?

Absolutely! While you can steam, boil, or even grill lobster tails, I’ve found baking to be the easiest method. Why? It doesn’t involve big pots of water or steamers, and cooking the lobster in a covered baking dish with just a little water cooks the lobster meat gently and evenly. Plus, because it’s not submerged in water, the meat is more intensely flavored.

How to Buy Lobster Tails

Fresh lobsters must be cooked or frozen immediately after they’re caught, which is why you’ll find that raw lobster tails are always sold frozen. There are two types of lobster tails available:

  • Maine lobsters: Maine lobster tails are prized for their sweet flavor, making them the more expensive option. Maine lobster tails are generally dark green-brown with hints of red.
  • Spiny or rock lobsters: Lobster tails from spiny or rock lobsters aren’t as sweet as Maine lobsters. Spiny lobster tails are lighter in color with distinctive spots.
Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Do You Have to Split a Lobster Tail Before Baking?

While you don’t have to split a lobster tail in half before baking, I prefer doing it for two reasons: The butterflied lobster cooks more evenly, and it gives you the opportunity to season the meat while it cooks.

What to Serve with Baked Lobster Tails

To serve, transfer the baked lobster tails to plates, drizzle lemon-garlic butter sauce all over the meat, then add some lemon wedges for squeezing. For a simple-yet-decadent meal, serve them with easy side dishes, such as:

And if you find yourself with leftover cooked lobster meat, turn it into these browned butter lobster rolls for a double dose of buttery goodness.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

  • Make ahead: To prep them ahead, raw lobster tails can be butterflied up to 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Storage: Leftover cooked lobster meat can be removed from the shells and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Baked Lobster Tails with Garlic Butter Recipe

Baking lobster tails in the oven is a smart and easy way to cook them without any fuss or mess.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes to 27 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    (about 8-ounce) lobster tails, thawed if frozen

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 5 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Instructions

  1. If the lobster tails are frozen, place 4 on a plate or baking sheet and refrigerate overnight to thaw.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF. Meanwhile, add enough water to a 9x13-inch baking dish to cover the bottom (about 3/4 cup). Butterfly the lobster tails.

  3. Pat the lobster tails dry and arrange hard shell-side up on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears and starting from the thicker end, cut lengthwise through the top shell on each tail, stopping when you get to the end of the tail.

  4. Using your fingers, gently pry the meat away from the top shell on either side by working your thumb between the shell and the meat. Gently pry the meat up and away from the bottom shell. All the meat should come out of the shell easily at this point. Place the meat back in the shell.

  5. Using a chef’s knife or the kitchen shears, cut the tail meat in half lengthwise from where the shell was split, stopping when you get the bottom shell (do not cut through the bottom shell). Open the tail up like a book, flip it over, and gently press down to flatten if needed (cover with a towel before flattening if the shell is sharp).

  6. Place the tails flesh-side up in a single layer in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

  7. Bake until the flesh is firm when pressed, cooked through, and the internal temperature registers 135 to 140ºF, 20 to 27 minutes. Meanwhile, halve 1 medium lemon. Cut one half into 4 wedges for serving. Juice the remaining half until you have 2 teaspoons. Finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Pick the leaves from 5 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop (about 1 tablespoon).

  8. About 5 minutes before the lobster is ready, melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 20 seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the parsley, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir to combine.

  9. When the lobster is ready, transfer to serving plates and drizzle with the lemon garlic butter. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The lobster tails can be butterflied up to 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Storage: Leftover cooked lobster meat can be removed from the shells and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.