This is not your classic lobster salad–not by a long shot. It’s got juicy cherry tomatoes, basil, red onions, and mayonnaise mixed in with chunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat.

This salad is a celebration of summer and over-the-top deliciousness. It’s also the centerpiece of one of my favorite seasonal meals. Be sure to use tomatoes at their juicy sweet peak.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the same red-handled and razor-sharp Joyce Chen kitchen scissors, which are excellent for countless food-prep chores, including snipping through tough lobster bodies and knuckles to remove whole chunks of meat.–Mindy Fox

LC Cracking Lobster Note

This lobster salad recipe, like so many others before it that similarly call for cooked lobster, sort of assumes that you have some semblance of a notion how to crack the darn thing. And perhaps you do. But if, like some folks we know, you’ve never attempted this before, take a gander at our handy video below. And once you’ve extricated that lovely lobster meat, don’t you dare discard those shells. Tuck them inside a resealable plastic bag, toss them in the freezer, and save them for a rainy day–the perfect occasion for simmering some lobster stock, low and slow, or adding flavor to a simple lobster pasta sauce. You’re welcome.

Fork with lobster salad and tomato salad, two small leaves of basil

Lobster Salad

5 / 3 votes
This is not your classic lobster salad–not by a long shot. It's got juicy cherry tomatoes, basil, red onions, and mayonnaise mixed in with chunks of fresh, sweet lobster meat.
CuisineNew England
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories225 kcal
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour


For the lobster salad

  • 2 lemons preferably organic
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more for salting the boiling water
  • Four (1 1/2-pound) live lobsters
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves (or another herb, such as chervil, chives, parsley, or tarragon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds cherry and/or small heirloom tomatoes preferably an array of colors, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves large leaves torn into pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons very good extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt crushed
  • Freshly cracked or ground black pepper


Make the lobster salad

  • Bring a large pot of salted water (at least an 8-quart stock pot) of salted water to a boil. The water ought to taste salty, like the sea. Place a wire cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of the lemons into a large bowl. Squeeze enough juice to yield 1/4 cup and pour the juice into the bowl with the zest. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and stir. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, plunge 2 of the lobsters headfirst into the boiling water. Loosely cover the pot and cook the lobsters for 9 to 11 minutes from the time they enter the water, depending on the size of the lobsters. Using tongs, transfer the cooked lobsters to the rack to cool. Return the water to a boil and cook the remaining 2 lobsters in the same manner.
  • When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the claws, joints, legs, and tails. Set the shells, roe, and tomalley (the soft green paste found in the body cavity) aside for another use or discard them. Cut the lobster meat into 1/2-inch chunks and toss it in a bowl.
  • Add the mayonnaise, sliced basil, and black pepper to the onion mixture and whisk together to combine. Add the lobster meat and gently toss to combine. (The lobsters can be cooked, shelled, and, if you like, prepared as a salad one day ahead, then covered and refrigerated.)

Make the tomato salad

  • In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, whole or torn basil leaves, oil, a few pinches of salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Divvy the tomato salad among 4 plates, mounding it in the center of the plate. Top each mound with some of the lobster salad and then drizzle any leftover juices from both bowls over the top of each salad. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with an extra pinch of salt.
Salads: Beyond the Bowl

Adapted From

Salads: Beyond the Bowl

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 225 kcalCarbohydrates: 13 gProtein: 3 gFat: 20 gSaturated Fat: 3 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 8 mgSodium: 419 mgPotassium: 510 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 7 gVitamin A: 1653 IUVitamin C: 53 mgCalcium: 43 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2012 Mindy Fox. Photo © 2012 Ellen Silverman. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Ooh, this was a delicious lobster salad. I used freshly cooked lobsters as opposed to cooking them myself, which made it an extremely easy dish. I think it packs a lot of flavor with some very simple ingredients and is definitely an easy picnic dish. This will be a keeper in the family.

This lobster salad is the ideal summer dish. I can rarely get live lobster where I live, so I used two one-pound tails, and considered that to be half a recipe. It would be great if the author specified an expected yield of meat from the four lobsters called for. Anyway, the salad was still delicious.

The sweetness of ripe tomatoes enhances the sweetness of the lobster meat, and the basil goes perfectly with both. A nice cool salad for a warm summer night, showcasing summer ingredients at their best.

This is a wonderful salad. The lobster is clearly the star of the show with lovely background flavors from the lemon, basil and red onion (I used shallots instead of red onion because that was what I had in my pantry.) The simple tomato salad is a perfect accompaniment.

The whole effect is cool, light and all summer. Perfect as a light lunch, or as a larger portion for dinner. I don’t see why this lobster salad couldn’t be put on a grilled, buttered hot dog roll, and voila! You have a lobster roll right out of New England.

Originally published August 1, 2012

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. $80-90 worth of lobster? Come on, get real here. Maybe a lobster and shrimp or lobster and crab or lobster and flaked white fish such as cod. Not 4, 1 1/2 pound lobsters?

    1. Stu, at my local greenmarket, $10 gets me a ginormous and lovely specimen during lobster season, and I know it’s just as easy to get the same deal at numerous local spots along the East Coast. True, lobster salad is always a splurge of some sort, though not as extreme as you had assumed.

    2. Stu, I do think your idea of stretching the lobster with flaky white fish (such as Pacific cod) is a good idea. But as Renee says, we can get summer lobsters cheaper than filet mignon, rib eye, or even strip steak

      1. You lucky guys live on the East coast where lobsters grow like dandelions. Here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the lobsters come with their own airline tickets and they fly first class! Today the market price for small, “chicken lobsters”, is $16.99 per pound. That is for the 1 1/4 pounders. Heavier ones cost more per pound. So, we are talking $22 a lobster. Four lobsters, $88..ouch! I bought one and steamed it last week…made classic lobster roll. Nice. I followed your recipe except no onion and I used tarragon, and put it on a brat bun. Even though we have this lobster issue, I still love you, David, and thoroughly enjoy hearing from you, Renee.

        1. Ah, Stu, I have a dear friend in Minneapolis. I wish I could see her more often but the airfares are outrageous, as you say. Save this recipe for one day when finally there is a sale….

  2. 5 stars
    The salad looks amazing and I have all the ingredients in the house. Oh boy. I know what I am making for lunch on Saturday! Mmmm….

    1. I’m experiencing serious envy, RisaG. Looks like I’ll be having this stunning salad from cookbook author Mindy Fox for lunch this weekend, too…

  3. The Chew crew said that lobster on the east coast is cheaper than bologna this year due to a market glut. Not here in the midwest. Could you ship some of those luscious crustaceans our way?

    1. Uh, I don’t think there’ll be any left to ship once folks read your comment and clamor to indulge…