This Butter Poached Lobster Tails recipe is all things buttery and tasteful, with a hint of garlic and fresh tarragon. Paired with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and you have the perfect dish for a date night meal or special occasion.

Lobster in a bowl of butter and garlic.

These delicious lobster tails only require a handful of ingredients but are incredibly indulgent. If you’ve never made a lobster recipe before, I’ve found this is the best way to cook lobster tails with minimal risk and easy succulent results. Cooking lobster doesn’t have to be daunting and complex. Once you do it the first time, it will be easier the next.

Poaching may sound complicated, but its a tried and true method that’s not at all complicated. The finish dish is full of flavor and perfectly cooked. Buttery lobster is excellent for Christmas dinner or a special way to spruce up Valentine’s Day. Your loved ones will be impressed at your better-than-restaurant-quality cooking skills!

Overhead of poached lobster in a white bowl.

What are Butter Poached Lobster Tails?

To put it simply, these are fresh lobster tails that have been cleaned, cut, and gently simmered in liquid, a term known as poaching. In this case, the poaching liquid is a mixture of water, unsalted butter, and garlic. Poaching in water and butter is also known as beurre monté—a French term to explain the process of melted butter being cooked longer than on average.

Ingredients for this recipe.

Butter Poached Lobster Tails Ingredients

  • Water 
  • Unsalted butter 
  • Cloves of garlic – skin removed
  • Sprigs of fresh tarragon 
  • Cold Water Maine Lobster Tails – We source our lobster tails online, but Costo lobster tails work just as well for this recipe. We look for labels that read cold water and/or Maine lobster. For more info, check out our guide to buying meat online. If using frozen lobster tails, make sure they are completely thawed before cooking.

To Serve:

  • Lemon wedges 
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted crusty garlic bread

How to Make Butter Poached Lobster Tails 

Cut the lobster Tail:

Take the whole lobster tail and rinse it with cold water. Pat them dry with paper towel for easy handling.

Using sharp kitchen sheers, carefully remove back fins from the cold water lobster tails and additional appendages if on the underside, if needed.

Then, use the sheer to snip under the middle of the shell, flip, and repeat along the top of the shell.

Next, carefully, cut the meat in half in the middle. This divides the lobster into two even portions with the meat exposed.

Prep the butter

Place a large saucepan with high walls over medium-low heat. We use our favorite braiser for this.

Add the wet ingredients by pouring in the water and a little of the butter. Always see our notes in as instructed in the detailed recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Add remaining butter and whisk to emulsify over low heat until melted through, and add the garlic and tarragon. Make sure the butter never comes to a rolling boil, and adjust the heat as needed accordingly.

Poach the lobster tails 

Add lobster tails to the melted butter mixture and rotate them and flip lobster tail often in the buttery sauce, so the lobster cooks evenly. Occasionally spooning more butter over the shells when moving the lobster.

Use an instant read thermometer and remove the butter poached lobster when it reaches 140 degrees F. The lobster meat should be white and opaque.

Time to serve! 

Place lobster on the serving dish, spoon more butter over the lobster, and garnish with lemon wedges. Season with salt and pepper as desired. You can also add extra flourish by including minced parsley or chives as a garnish sprinkled over top.

Serve immediately, and consider pairing it with toasted garlic bread to sop up the extra butter!

EXPERT RECIPE TIP

Instead of cutting the lobster tails in half, which we did for the bright red presentation, you could remove the meat entirely from the shell by cutting off the bottom shell along either side and then the top shell in half. Using a spoon or your fingers, gently release the meat from the shell and place it directly into the heated butter to poach. 

Substitutions

Tarragon: If you don’t have tarragon, other mild aromatic herbs like thyme or chives work beautifully in this recipe. We find rosemary too strong to pair well with this light dish. 

Butter: We only recommend unsalted butter for this recipe; plant-based or margarine alternatives will work. Also, spend a little extra on high-quality butter with a higher fat content for this recipe. We like Kerrygold butter (also found at Costco) for poaching.

Close up of cooked lobster in butter.

Reheating/Leftovers

Refrigerator: Store leftover lobster tails in an airtight container or double-wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Leftover lobster is best eaten fresh but can be enjoyed within 2 days if stored correctly and in the refrigerator.

Reheat: To reheat, you can wrap in aluminum foil and bake for five to ten minutes at 350 degrees F. However, once cooked through, lobster tends to get tough when reheating. It’s great to mince up in use in fried rice or risotto as leftovers tho!

What to Serve With

For best results, pair this lobster tail recipe with rich delicious garlic bread. A simple risotto and green beans would work too. Most light salads, vegetables, and rolls will work well. You might also consider one of the easy recipes below:

Bright red lobster shells and cooked lobster meat in a bowl of butter, garlic and herbs.

FAqs

HOW LONG DO YOU POACH LOBSTER FOR?

The general rule is to cook the lobster meat for one minute for every ounce or until the lobster is heated through to 140 degrees F. For this specific recipe, we only butter poach the lobster for 5 to 8 minutes. See the detailed instructions in the recipe card below.

WHAT IS THE BEST BUTTER FOR LOBSTER TAILS?

Clarified butter is ideal when making dishes that need to be sauteed. This is because milk solids are removed and can be cooked longer or at higher temperatures. You could also use ghee. However, for this lobster recipe, we use regular unsalted butter for this recipe.

MORE DELICIOUS SEAFOOD RECIPES

I hope your butter poached lobster tails turn out great. Is this your first time making lobster? Whether it’s your first time or seventh, let me know how it turned out and how you chose to garnish it. Drop a comment below!

Easy Butter Poached Lobster Tails

5 from 14 votes
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Resting Time: 1 min
Total: 26 mins
Servings: 4
Nothing is more decandant than this recipe for butter poached lobster tails. With a fragrant garlic and herb butter, fresh cold water lobster tails and a toasted bread to sop it all up, it's the perfect dinner meal for special occasions!

Ingredients  

For the poached lobster tails

  • cup water
  • 8 oz unsalted butter
  • 7 to 8 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
  • 5 to 7 Sprigs of tarragon fresh
  • 4 Maine Lobster Tails Cold Water lobster tails

To serve:

  • Lemon wedges
  • Parsley minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toasted crusty garlic bread

Instructions 

Prep the lobster:

  • Rinse the lobster tails under cold water.
  • With sharp kitchen sheers, remove the back fins from the lobster tails
  • If needed, remove any additional appendages that may be on the underside of the lobster tail.
  • Carefully slide the sheers in under the middle of the shell and snip through.
  • Flip the lobster and repeat, carefully sliding the sheers in and snippign through the top of the shell.
  • Then cut the meat in half in the middle, you should be met with no resistance, to cut the lobster tails in half.

Prep the butter:

  • Place a wide saucepan or large high walled skillet, over medium low heat.
  • Add the water and 2 tablespoons of the butter and whisk as the butter melts to blend together in a smooth emulsion.
  • Once the initial butter is incorporated, add the remaining butter 2 tablespoons at a time, continuing to stir over low heat until all the butter is melted.
  • Control the heat to not allow the butter to come to a rolling simmer.
  • Add the garlic cloves and tarragon springs.

Poach the lobster tails:

  • Carefully add the cut lobster tails to the butter and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, ladling with butter and rotating as needed to evenly cook the lobster meat.
  • The lobster meat is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of the meat reaches 140 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer, and the meat has become white and opaque.
  • Remove the pan fron heat and carefully transfer the lobster to your desired serving bowl.

Serve:

  • Spoon the remaining butter over top of the lobster meat and garnish with lemon wedges.
  • Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle freshly minced parsley or chives over top.
  • Serve immediately with toasted garlic bread to sop up extra butter.

Notes

Ensure your lobster is completely thawed if previously frozen before cooking. 
Instead of cutting the lobster tails in half, which we did for the bright red presentation, you could remove the meat entirely from the shell by cutting off the bottom shell along either side and then the top shell in half. Using a spoon or your fingers, gently release the meat from the shell and place it directly into the heated butter to poach.
If you don’t have tarragon, other mild aromatic herbs like thyme or chives work beautifully in this recipe. We find rosemary too strong and woodsy too pair well with this light dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 202mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 199mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 1472IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Author: Kita Roberts
Keyword: butter poached lobster tails

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