As with many culinary icons, the recipe for this New England classic is deceptively simple: a pot of water, a few ingredients, a soft bun, and you’re done. But to achieve the ideal mix of sweet and briny, tender and toasty, it helps to have a little insider knowledge. We break down the what, why, and how -- so you can serve up the best.
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*Top-split are narrower than side-split, so you get a greater ratio of lobster to bread.
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To serve four people, you’ll need two 2 1/2-pound lobsters or three 1 1/2-pounders -- that will yield 1 pound of cooked meat. For the freshest fare, buy from a fish market or supermarket seafood counter that does a brisk business, and cook them the same day. (Many seafood markets will do the steaming for you -- just ask.)
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Hold the tail in one hand and the body in the other; twist and pull to separate. For claws and legs, twist and pull where they’re attached to the body. Use lobster- or nutcrackers or a mallet to crack the shells.
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To get all the meat out in one swift motion, insert a fork into the underside of the tail and push up. Then chop into bite-size pieces.
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Mix with Mayonnaise
We like creamy, USDA–certified organic Hellmann’s (known as Best Foods out west) mayonnaise.
In a bowl, stir together mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, and coarse salt. Fold in chopped lobster meat.
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Toast and Fill
Heat a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat. Generously brush top and sides of top-split buns with melted unsalted butter. Place buns, flat-side down, in skillet and toast, flipping halfway through, until crisp and golden on both sides, about 3 minutes. Divide lobster meat among buns and serve, with lemon wedges and potato chips.
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Variation: Connecticut Bright Lobster Roll
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Variation: Maryland Spice Lobster Roll
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After making rolls, place shells and heads in a pot, cover with water, and (if desired) add aromatics, such as a quartered onion, a celery stalk, and fennel fronds, to make a stock. Simmer until reduced slightly, 2 to 3 hours. Strain; refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 6 months, and use in soups or sauces.
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