If you’re looking for something to serve for a special occasion, look no further. Lobster is regarded by many as an absolute delicacy. If you want to elevate them even more try these smoked lobster tails.
Sweet and buttery lobster paired with a slightly smoky finish makes them out of this world.
Lobster tails are arguably the best part of the lobster and can be a delicious treat to share with friends and family. They can be served as the main attraction or as a side for a delicious steak (a bit of surf and turf).
Tips for buying Lobster tails
Fresh and live is the preference when buying lobster, but that doesn’t mean frozen tails can’t be amazing as well. The key is to be sourcing the best quality lobster for your budget.
1. Warm water vs. cold water
There are often two types of lobster tails to choose from, warm-water tails and cold-water tails.
You want to go with cold-water lobster tails because they have the best texture and flavor.
If your supplier does not indicate whether the tails are from cold or warm water, you can always tell by where they are sourced from.
Cold-water lobster tails will be from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Maine.
Warm-water tails will be sourced from places like Florida, Latin America, and The Caribbean.
2. It’s all about size
Look for tails between 6oz and 10oz. Most people assume that bigger is better, but that is not the case when it comes to picking lobster.
As lobsters get bigger, they begin to take on a fishier flavor and will lose that sweet, buttery finish that great quality lobster is known for.
3. Live vs. frozen
If you can get live lobster, that is the way to go. Whole, live lobsters are going to have the best flavor, which is why you will see so many upscale seafood restaurants have a live lobster tank on display – some even let you pick your own!
4. Know Your Seasons
The winter months are the best time to buy fresh lobster, as the peak season spans from the late-Fall months to early-Spring. You are going to get the best quality (both live and frozen) during the winter months, plus you will save yourself a bit of money!
5. Don’t rule out lobster delivery services
For this recipe, we sourced wild Maine lobster tails from Crowd Cow.
These lobster tails are sourced from Ready Bros Seafood, which is based in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and they pride themselves on putting passion over profit to bring the best tasting lobster to as many people as possible.
They offer up cold-cracked lobster that is processed cold from start to finish and is fully processed within 12 hours from harvest.
Top three woods for smoking seafood
1. Apple wood
Apple wood is extremely mild in flavor but imparts a distinct sweetness upon the meat it’s smoking. You will achieve a fruity flavor when you smoke with apple and it’s commonly mixed with heartier woods such as oak or mesquite.
Pecan wood is a mild wood that provides a sweet flavor with a nutty finish. When you fire up your smoker with pecan you will add a nutty sweetness that will really pick your seafood up a notch.
Cherry wood is similar to apple in the sense that it produces a sweet and fruity flavor, but cherry is a bit stronger and produces a smokier flavor. Cherry is one of the most popular woods for smoking because it pairs well with most meats and mixes nicely with stronger woods like hickory or mesquite.
How to make smoked lobster tails
1. Make sure lobster tails are thawed
If you were like us and could only source frozen lobster tails the first step is to thaw them.
It’s important to thaw them properly to preserve the meat and keep it as firm and delicious as possible.
Lobster tails that are defrosted too quickly can end up with a mushy texture and a less-than-pleasant flavor.
Your best bet for defrosting frozen lobster tails is to be patient and let them defrost in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. The cool temperature of the fridge will keep the meat fresh and firm, and you will be left with delicious lobster that rivals the fresh alternative.
2. Butterfly the tails
Whether or not you choose to butterfly your lobster tails prior to serving is all about personal preference, but we recommend it because it will make the final product easier to eat and give it a beautiful, Instagram-worthy presentation.
Step 1: Start with a pair of sharp kitchen shears and lay your lobster tails out on a cutting board with the shell-side up and the tip of the tail pointed away from you.
Step 2: Slide your shears under the shell in the space between the meat and shell and make a few cuts to split the shell down the middle. Do not attempt to pull the meat out of the shell until the cut is complete.
Step 3: Flip your lobster tail over so it’s shell-side down and pull the shell apart. You should be able to slide your fingers inside of the shell.
Step 4: Slowly pull the lobster meat out in one movement. The meat should come out in one piece, and you can lay it back down on top of the shell. The meat will still be attached to the shell at the base of the tail
3. Season the tails
Lobster is unique in the sense that it can be seasoned either before or after cooking. Lobster has an inherent sweet and buttery flavor that does not need a heavy dose of seasoning, so we opted to keep the seasoning blend simple.
Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt and black pepper along the top of your lobster meat, then finish it off with your favorite barbecue rub.
Any all-purpose rub will work perfectly for this recipe, and we chose the Reload FULLY LOADED. It’s a premium blend of spices and herbs that is packed full of flavor and pairs perfectly with smoked lobster.
4. Fire up the smoker
Smoke is the last ingredient you will add to your meat, and when you smoke lobster it is best to opt for a sweet, mild wood.
An overpowering wood will impart far too much smoke flavor into your lobster, but a mild wood will give it just a touch of smokiness that pairs beautifully.
For this recipe, we fired up the Pitboss Pro 1600 smoker to 250°F with Apple wood pellets.
Once your smoker is preheated, the smoking process is simple. Just place your lobster tails with the meat side facing up directly on the grates of your smoker. They will take about 45 minutes to cook at 250°F.
5. Who doesn’t love butter?
Butter and lobster are a match made in culinary heaven, so you know we couldn’t skip the butter for this delicious smoked lobster.
Place the salted butter, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a small pot and heat until just combined.
Put the salted butter, garlic powder, and lemon juice in a small pot and place the pot next to the lobster on the smoker so the butter melts. Give it a stir to combine and baste the lobster meat every 10-15 minutes with a basting brush.
After about 45 minutes, check your lobster’s internal temperature using a meat thermometer, it should be around 145°F and it’s ready to enjoy.