This butter poached lobster recipe is one of my favorite recipes for entertaining because it’s so easy to make and can be ready in under 20 minutes! Everytime I make this recipe, I feel like I’m at a fancy restaurant.
The gentle poaching method in a rich butter bath, infused with hints of garlic and a touch of red pepper flakes, elevates the lobster adding so much flavor. Each bite offers a melt-in-your-mouth experience, where the natural sweetness of the lobster is perfectly complemented by the creamy, garlicky butter sauce.
This lobster recipe shines in settings where you want to impress or celebrate. It’s ideal for romantic dinners, special anniversaries, or when hosting an elegant dinner party. The luxurious nature of butter poached lobster makes it a showstopper for holiday feasts or any event where you want to offer something truly special. It’s also a fantastic choice for a gourmet at-home date night, allowing you to create a fine dining experience in the comfort of your own home.
You’ll love this recipe because:
Table of Contents
- Lobster tails – Look for fresh or high-quality frozen lobster tails at your grocery store. The shells should be intact. I used 4oz tails for this recipe.
- Kosher salt – I used kosher salt for this recipe, but you can use sea salt or table salt instead.
- Ground black pepper – Freshly ground black pepper will give the best flavor. Adjust the amount based on your preference for spice.
- Water – This is used to create a gentle poaching liquid when combined with butter, called a beurre monté. Ensure it’s at the right temperature to avoid boiling and breaking the emulsion. I use a thermometer to keep the temperature at about 180°F (82°C).
- Butter – Use unsalted butter for better control of the dish’s saltiness. Cut it into tablespoon-sized pieces for even melting. Quality butter will give a richer taste to the lobster. I used Kerrygold butter for this reason.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves are ideal for their potent flavor. Mince them finely before adding to the butter.
- Red pepper flakes – This brings a subtle heat to the dish. Adjust the quantity according to your heat preference, or omit it for a milder taste.
- Fresh parsley – Choose bright, fresh parsley for garnishing. It adds a fresh herby flavor and vibrant color. If unavailable, dried parsley can be used in a pinch but reduce the amount to 1 teaspoon. You can use either flat leaf parsley or curly parsley.
- Lemon – Use fresh lemons for squeezing over the lobster. They provide a fresh, acidic balance to the rich buttery flavor. Avoid bottled lemon juice as it can contain preservatives that alter the taste.
- Additional salt and pepper – Have extra on hand to adjust the seasoning after tasting the finished dish. Depending on what butter you use, you may need to add more or less seasoning to suit your preferences.
This butter poached lobster recipe is surprisingly easy to make, perfect for both beginners and seasoned cooks alike. While the following step-by-step photos with matching instructions provide a helpful visual guide, please refer to the detailed recipe card for complete instructions to ensure the best results.
For the ingredient list with measurements, full instructions, printable recipe, and additional notes, please scroll down to the recipe card.
Lobster is done when its internal temperature reaches 140°F (60°C). The meat should be opaque and firm to the touch. Avoid overcooking, as it can become tough and rubbery.
Yes, you can use frozen lobster tails. Ensure they are completely thawed in the refrigerator before use to ensure even cooking.
Keep the heat low and add butter gradually to maintain an emulsion. If the butter begins to separate, remove it from the heat and whisk vigorously before returning to a gentle heat.
Butter poached lobster pairs well with a variety of sides including steamed vegetables, a fresh salad, a simple pasta, or risotto. It’s also delicious when served with steak for a surf and turf meal.
Yes, while parsley is traditional, you can use other fresh herbs like tarragon, chives, or dill for a different flavor profile.
Yes, this butter poached lobster recipe is naturally gluten-free, making it suitable for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. Just ensure all your ingredients, especially any additional garnishes or sides, are also gluten-free.
- Storage: Refrigerate any leftover butter poached lobster in an airtight container. It’s best to consume it within 1-2 days to maintain the quality and flavor. Be sure to store the lobster and the butter sauce together, as the sauce will help keep the lobster moist.
- Freezer Option: Freezing is not generally recommended for cooked lobster as it can significantly affect the texture.
- Reheat: To reheat, gently warm the lobster in a skillet over low heat. The key is to heat it slowly and not overcook it. Alternatively, you can reheat it in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for about 10 minutes, covered with foil to prevent drying out. The lobster is ready when it’s heated through but still tender and moist. Avoid using a microwave as it can cause the lobster to become rubbery.
When serving butter poached lobster, consider pairing it with side dishes that complement its rich, succulent texture and delicate flavors. A classic choice is a fresh, crisp green salad dressed lightly with a lemon vinaigrette, adding a bright, acidic contrast to the richness of the lobster. This cucumber and tomato salad also pairs well with lobster.
For a heartier accompaniment, consider pairing it with a steak and a side of steamed or grilled asparagus, broccolini, or a medley of seasonal vegetables. My roasted broccoli and potatoes recipe is a great choice.
If you prefer a starch, opt for light, fluffy rice pilaf, buttery risotto or lemon risotto, or a simple gluten-free pasta tossed with olive oil and herbs, which can help absorb the sumptuous butter sauce without overwhelming the lobster’s natural sweetness.
Serve the lobster on a warm plate to maintain its temperature, and consider garnishing with additional fresh herbs and lemon wedges. In terms of drinks, a crisp, chilled white wine such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc pairs beautifully, balancing the richness of the butter with its acidity. For non-alcoholic options, a sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon, cucumber lemonade or a light, herbal iced tea compliments the meal without overpowering the flavors.
Did you make this recipe?
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Butter Poached Lobster
- 6 medium lobster tails (4 oz each)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (cut into tablespoon sized pieces)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lemon (sliced into wedges)
- Additional salt and pepper (to taste)
- Flip the lobster tail over onto its back. Using kitchen shears, cut two slits down each side of the lobster tail, where the membrane meets the shell on each side. Cut until you reach the tail fin.
- Pull the underside of the shell back towards the fin. Then, place your thumb between the hard shell and the meat and pull it back towards the fin until you can detach it from the shell.
- Pat the lobster tails dry and place on a plate. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet or braising pan, add the water and let it heat up over low heat. Once warm, add a few tablespoons of butter, whisk until the butter melts.
- Add the remaining butter, a few tablespoons at a time, whisking until the butter melts before adding a few tablespoons more. Be sure to keep the poaching liquid (beurre monté) warm at about a temperature of 180°F (82°C) without letting it boil. Turn down the heat if need be.
- Once all the butter is melted, add the garlic cloves and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the seasoned lobster tails into the butter mixture in a single layer.
- Baste each of the lobster tails with the garlic butter mixture.
- Cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping the lobster tails every 2 minutes and basting them with the warm butter as they cook. The lobster is cooked when the meat is opaque, firm to the touch and has reached an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C). The lobster tails may curl slightly while cooking. Be sure not to overcook the lobster as it can easily get rubbery.
- Mix in the chopped parsley and squeeze a few of the lemon wedges over the top of the lobster tails. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve with the remaining lemon wedges.
- My lobster tails were about 4 ounces each. You can easily scale up or down the lobster tails in this recipe depending on how many people you are serving. If the lobster is the main course, I recommend 2 lobster tails per person. If you are serving it alongside steak, pasta or risotto, you can decrease the serving size to 1 lobster tail per person.
- I personally like to remove my lobster meat from the shell before cooking, because then it’s ready to eat as soon as the lobster is finished cooking. You can leave the lobster meat in the shell if you prefer.
- I recommend fresh or high-quality frozen lobster tails for the best taste and texture. Since I live in the midwest where lobsters are not readily available fresh, I used high-quality cold water frozen lobster tails. I defrosted them in the refrigerator overnight before using them. If need be, you can quickly defrost the lobster tails by placing them in a bowl of ice water for about an hour, changing the water every 15 minutes.
- The butter flavor is very important in this recipe, so I recommend using high-quality butter. I used Kerrygold butter.
- I recommend continuously basting the lobster in the beurre monté as it cooks to infuse it with flavor and to keep the lobster really moist and tender.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness and prevent overcooking.
- This recipe is meant to be served right after cooking. However, you can store leftover lobster tails in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Reheat in the poaching liquid on the stove top over low heat just until heated through.