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How To Tell When Lobster Tail Is Done?

How To Tell When Lobster Tail Is Done?

While lobster is delicious, nothing compares to the tail. Not only is the tail the meatiest part of the tail, but it’s also the most enjoyable part of the lobster. 

However, if you’ve ever cooked lobster, then you know you need to take it off of the heat at the right time, or things will surely go downhill from there.

You could end up with chewy, overcooked lobster or undercooked lobster. That’s why you need to know how to tell when lobster tail is done cooking. 

Can You Eat Undercooked Lobster Tails?

You cannot eat undercooked lobster. You can be exposed to bacteria by eating undercooked seafood and contracting Vibrio or another type of food poisoning. 

Symptoms of food poisoning can include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. However, you may also experience cognitive impairment, headaches, and memory loss.

In severe food poisoning cases, persons have experienced hypotension, coma, arrhythmias, ophthalmoplegia, and even death. 

How To Tell if Lobster Tail Is Raw?

Before we can discuss what cooked lobster looks like, we must discuss what raw lobster looks like. Raw lobster has a firm texture. It also feels a little dry because it has been out of the water for some time. 

The lobster shell will feel rough, but there are some smooth patches n the tail. If the lobster tail feels slimy or the meat is as soft and squishy as cottage cheese, the lobster is most likely spoiled. 

How To Tell When Lobster Tail Is Done

Knowing when the lobster tail is done is critical if you want juicy meat. Luckily you can use the cooking time, internal temperature, and color. 

Cooking Time 

The cooking time of lobster depends on its size as well as the cooking method. In general, it will take 9-12 minutes to cook if it is steamed or boiled.  


The temperature is the best way to tell if lobster tails are cooked. Senses such as sight, smell, and taste are unreliable. 

Make sure you are using a food-grade thermometer, such as an infrared thermometer, to monitor the lobster’s internal temperature.

The recommended internal temperature of the cooked lobster is 140°F. If the lobster is cooked above 140°F, the lobster will start to dry out and become tough and chewy.


The lobster tail will change from a blue-green color to a vivid bright red color. The translucent meat should turn white. Pink lines will appear on the outer lobster meat that is closest to the shell. 

As the lobster cook, the protein will contract, causing the lobster tail to develop a firm texture. Cooked lobster should have little to no aroma.

How To Cook Lobster Tails 

Reading this article has no doubt inspired you to cook lobster tails. Luckily, I will show you how to cook lobster tails 3 different ways. 

How To Boil Lobster Tails

Boiling lobster is the easiest way to cook lobster tails. If you are boiling lobster tails or fan-cut lobster tails is best if you are going to boil your lobster tails. 

To boil your lobster tails, add water to a large pot. When the water starts boiling, add your lobster tails to the water. The entire lobster tail should be submerged. 

Once the water starts to boil again, decrease the heat to medium-low. Remember, the cooking time depends on the size of the lobster. 

For example, 6–7-ounce lobster tails will take 5-6 minutes. In contrast, 8–10-ounce lobster tails will take 6-8 minutes to boil. Large lobster tails, such as 16-20 oz lobster tails, take 10 minutes to cook, while 20–24-ounce lobster tails take about 10-12 minutes. 

Remove the lobster tails and place them onto a platter. You can use kitchen shears or split the shell to reveal the meat using a large knife. 

How to Steam Lobster Tails

Steaming lobster tails is similar to boiling them. If you are steaming them, you can use butterflied whole or lobster tails that have been cut in half. 

To steam your lobster tails, place 2-inches of water in a pot. Add a steaming basket or trivet to the pot, set it over medium-high heat, and let it come to a boil. 

When the water starts boiling, add the lobster tails to the steamer basket or trivet and cover them with a tight-fitting lid. 

  • Cook 6–7-ounce lobster tails for 6-8 minutes.
  • Cook 8–10-ounce lobster tails got 8-10 minutes.
  • Cook 16–20-ounce lobster tails for 10-12 minutes.
  • Cook 20–24-ounce lobster tails for 10-12 minutes.

Remove the cooked lobster tails from the pot when they have a temperature of 140°F and serve them. 

How to Grill Lobster Tails

I would not recommend grilling lobster tails as they can cook evenly. It’s best to use butterflied or split lobster tails. 

To split the lobster tails, use a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife to separate the lobster shell in two. Rinse the lobster tails with cold water, then remove the intestinal vein and the tomalley. 

Set up your natural gas grill and heat it to medium-high heat. Brush the lobster flesh with melted butter, olive oil, or a marinade and place it onto a greased grill or a rack flesh-side up. 

Cook large lobster tails for 6-8 minutes and extra-large lobster tails for 8-10 minutes. Cook 16–20-ouncelobsters’ tails for 10-11 minutes and 20-24 oz lobster tails for 11-12 minutes. 

You can flip the lobster tails over, so the flesh gets some grill marks. Turn the lobster tails over during the final few minutes of cooking time and baste them again with melted butter, olive oil, or marinade. 

The thickest part of the lobster meat should be opaque, the shell should be red, and the lobster should have a temperature of 140°F. 

Final Thoughts

Lobster is juicy and succulent. However, there’s nothing worse than overcooked or undercooked lobster.

Luckily dry, tough, chewy lobster or undercooked lobster will be a thing of the past since you know how to tell if lobster is done. 

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