Kitchn Love Letters

These Restaurant-Inspired Lobster Rolls Have a Smart Secret Ingredient

published Jul 25, 2021
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Credit: Nicole Rufus

When I moved to the Boston area for high school, I was introduced to many of the things that make New England special. Coming from Dallas, I was most taken with the fact that New Englanders experience four distinct seasons (in Texas, there isn’t nearly as much variation in the weather). I reveled in how unique each season felt — especially summer. After months of cold weather and the rainy spring season, summer felt like a gift in a way it never had before.

Before my sophomore year began, a friend invited me to stay at her family’s house in Cape Cod. Before then, the Cape was a place that I had only ever heard about — mostly in my excessive re-watches of Summer Catch with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Jessica Biel. Being there was very surreal. I felt like an outsider during the duration of the trip, but my friends and I had a great time and, more importantly, we ate some really good food.

That trip to Cape Cod introduced me to so much seafood I had never tried before: clams, scallops, and lobster. After just one lobster roll, I became deeply infatuated: The combination of fresh lobster, so much butter, and pillowy brioche rolls couldn’t be more perfect.

Credit: Nicole Rufus

While I love cooking lobster at home as a special treat (the rising cost of lobster won’t allow me to eat it as often as I’d like), I had never made my own lobster rolls. I always considered them a “restaurant food” — something better left to the pros — but as I recently learned, they couldn’t be easier to make yourself.

The recipe I used — my colleague Sheela’s recipe for brown butter lobster rolls — is inspired by Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine, where they give the lobster a toss in brown butter. True to the original, Sheela’s re-creation is all about the brown butter — and it contributes the most beautiful nutty, toasted flavor to the lobster meat.

When I say this recipe is easy, I’m not lying. Brown the butter, add the lobster meat, and toss to combine. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt, divide among buns, and top with chives. Then, dig into the decadent, restaurant-worthy treat you just made for yourself at home.

If You’re Making Brown Butter Lobster Rolls, a Few Tips

  1. Choose your temperature. I’m partial to a warm lobster roll, so I usually assemble the rolls right after cooking the lobster. If you prefer cold lobster rolls, cook your lobster in advance and let it chill in the fridge for a bit.
  2. Use whatever buns you like. Eventide makes their rolls with Asian steamed buns shaped into hot dog buns, and Sheela’s recipe calls for brioche buns. Whatever kind of hot dog bun your heart desires will work here.
  3. Watch that butter! Once the butter begins to emit a nutty smell and you see it browning in color, pull it off the heat immediately. Brown butter will go from nutty to bitter if left on the heat for too long.

At Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.