These buttery smoked lobster tails are incredibly delicious and just melt in your mouth. The smoke flavor along with the garlic chive butter spread take these tails to the next level!
Video - How to smoke lobster tails
There are several ways to cook lobster tail, and they all will taste fantastic. So why smoke lobster tails? The simple answer is the elevated flavor you get from cooking the lobster over smoke and fire.
The subtle smoke flavor gives the lobster meat an extra level of complexity that you just don't get when steaming, boiling, or broiling. The texture of the meat is perfect when smoking these tails. It's moist with just the right amount of bite.
So do yourself a favor next time you are making surf and turf, or simply doing a lobster tail dinner. Fire up the smoker to take your lobster tails to the next level!
What you will need
- Lobster tails - 4 (4-10oz each)
- Olive oil
- Salt, Pepper, Paprika, chives, & garlic
- Wood skewers (soaked in water)
- Kitchen Shears
- Smoker / Grill
Buying the lobster
When buying whole lobster, looking for live is the way to go. When only smoking lobster tail, frozen is perfectly fine. Tails can be found at your local grocery store in the seafood section or purchased online from a seafood distributor.
Normally found behind the counter along with the fish and shrimp, store lobster tails will range in weight from 4-6oz.
Looking for LARGE lobster tails that will impress your guests and taste great? Definitely check out ordering lobster tails online straight from Maine. These tails will range in weight from 8-10oz per tail.
The smoker and wood
The best smoker to use is the one you already have! If you don't have a smoker, choose between a pellet or a traditional offset smoker. A grill is also an option.
A traditional offset smoker, like this Oklahoma Joe's Smoker can also be used when smoking lobster tail.
They take a little more attention to keep the temperature where you want it, but the smoke flavor is unrivaled.
Charcoal grill / Gas grill
Using a propane grill or charcoal grill is another great way to get that extra smoke/fire flavor on your lobster. There won't be as much of a smoke flavor, but using a grill will definitely turn out better than using an oven!
There is no need to cook at a low temperature with a grill. Simply cook hot and fast until the lobster is finished. An inexpensive charcoal grill, and one I love cooking with, is the classic Weber Kettle Grill.
Best wood to use
My favorite wood chips to use when smoking lobster is a fruit wood, like an apple or cherry. I used apple wood pellets when smoking this lobster tail recipe.
When smoking seafood on a pellet grill, competition or trophy blend pellets are also a great choice. These use several different types of wood that not overpowering.
Butterflying the tail
We butterfly lobster tails so it's easier to season and for a nice presentation. It's easy to do and your guests will appreciate it when it comes time for dinner.
- Start with some scissors or kitchen shears. Holding the lobster with the tailfin facing away from you, cut a single strip down the middle of the top of the shell all the way to the fin. Don't cut bottom shell.
- Turn the tail upside down placing your fingers inside the cut shell from the side, pull the shell apart slightly splitting it open.
- Using your fingers, separate the meat (except for a small piece close to the tailfin) from the bottom of the shell.
- Slide a wooden skewer (previously soaked in water for 30 minutes) through the meat towards the bottom of the shell. This will prevent the shell from curling up.
- Brush the tail with a little olive oil, then salt and pepper.
Smoking the lobster
If using a smoker, we are going to smoke on low for a little while then turn up the heat. If using a grill, get the grill to 350-400°F for the entire cooking process (which will be MUCH shorter than smoking)
Pre-heat the smoker to 200°F and make sure to have plenty of wood pellets in the hopper, or wood chips if using a different style smoker.
Place prepared lobster tails directly on the grill grates, meat side down, and smoke for 30 minutes. Meat side down will give some grill marks on the meat and give it a little more smoke.
Butter spread and finish hot
After the initial 30 minutes meat side down, flip the smoked lobster tails right side up and slide a temperature probe in the thickest part of the meat of 1 or 2 tails. Turn the temperature up on the smoker to 350°F.
Next, brush the prepared butter spread (found in recipe card at bottom of post) all over the meat of the lobsters and cook until reaching an internal temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Once that temperature is reached, remove the lobster tails from the smoker using tongs and place on a platter.
What goes with lobster tail?
Smoked lobster tails are a great main course when paired with amazing side dishes. Often, they are also paired with another protein for a nice surf & turf.
Surf and turf is when you make lobster tails with another land based meat, such as beef or pork. Mainly, surf and turf is lobster tail paired with a nice steak. I like to do filet mignon or a thick juicy ribeye. Now, let's pick the perfect side dish.
No. However, the meat won't get as much smoke flavor, you will not be able to brush on the butter sauce, and it will be harder to eat once on the dinner table. Just butterfly it.
Smoke 30 minutes, then finish on high heat for about 10 minutes to 135°F. If grilling; grill meat side down 3 minutes, flip & butter and finish off to 135°F. About another 6 minutes.
When the lobster meat reaches 135°F, opaque, and firm; they are done!
Old pro tips
- Make sure to turn up the heat to 350°F when finishing cooking. This will get the shells that nice red color people expect when eating lobster.
- It's best NOT to cook more tails then you will eat. Lobster doesn't reheat well (it becomes tougher)
- Run a skewer lengthwise down the tail when cooking to prevent tail from curling up.
- No one likes sharing lobster tails! Plan on 1 tail per person when buying them.
- Don't overcook the lobster. Over 140°F and the meat will start becoming tough and chewy.
- Serve with melted butter. Even though these tails have a butter spread, people love extra butter!
- 4 each lobster tails (4-10 oz)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper (fresh cracked)
- ¼ cup salted butter (softened)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chives (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1.5 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
- Pre-heat smoker to 200°F using apple wood.
- Combine all ingredients for butter spread in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- Butterfly lobster tails by cutting a single strip down the top of the shell with scissors or shears. Pull the shell apart slightly with your fingers so the meat can be seasoned.
- Separate the meat from the bottom of the shell with your fingers or a knife, leaving a small part attached close to the tail fin.
- Take a wooden skewer that has been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and pierce through lobster shell lengthwise through meat towards bottom of shell to prevent it from curling while cooking.
- Rub tail meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the salt and peppered butterflied lobster tails directly on the smoker rack meat side down and smoke for 30 minutes at 200°F.
- After 30 minutes, increase the temperature to 350°F and turn the lobster tails meat side up.
- Brush lobster meat with the butter spread and smoke until an internal temperature of 135°F.
- Once a 135°F IT is reached, remove from the grill/smoker with tongs and place on a serving platter. Garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy!