Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll Recipe

A classic Maine lobster roll contains fresh lobster meat mixed with mayonnaise and, sometimes, finely chopped celery. That’s it. The lobster is then stuffed into a buttered and grilled hot dog roll. You can do a lobster roll the old-time Mainer way, but I happen to like my lobster roll recipe better, combining freshly cooked lobster with just a touch of mayonnaise spiked with lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, and scallions. And I like serving the lobster roll on buttered, toasted baguette because I love the crunch and texture of French bread with the tender lobster meat. But a buttered hot dog roll isn’t bad, either.

When making this lobster roll recipe, how do you tell the difference between a male and a female lobster? Look between its legs, of course. You’ll find two feelers, or swimmerets, located at the base of the tail. If they’re hard, it’s a male; if they’re soft and flexible, you’ve got yourself a lady. Some think females are sweeter; others swear by the males.–Kathy Gunst

LC That’s What She Said Note

This is exactly what you’ll find along the little highways and byways of coastal Maine–a toasted split-top bun cradling cool, creamy mayo swaddling sweet, sweet lobster. Sigh. Much as we love this unctuous lobster roll with its cool, creamy mayo swaddling chunks of sweet, sweet lobstah, we feel compelled to point out that there is actually more than one way to make a lobster roll, and that other lobster roll way draws on nothing but melted buttah. So even though the lovely Kathy Gunst asserts above that the classic Maine lobster roll relies on mayo…well, not to be argumentative or anything, but let’s just consider that each story has another side. And then after you’re done pondering that, go make this salad.

Lobster Roll Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 2


  • Two 1-pound lobsters or 1 cup cooked lobster meat
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons store bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon very finely chopped scallion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Two 3-inch chunks baguette (you can substitute 2 hot dog rolls if you must)


  • 1. First, start dreaming of your lobster roll even as you add enough water to a large pot to measure 2 to 3 inches. Bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Place a colander or a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking dish.
  • 2. Remove the rubber bands from the lobster claws before you cook them or you’ll have rubbery-tasting chunks of crustacean in your lobster roll. (Be careful once you remove the rubber bands because the lobster is very much alive and may snap at your fingers.) Add the lobsters to the boiling water, shell side down, cover, and cook for about 11 minutes, until a leg pulls out of the lobster body easily. (If you’re one of those folks with weathered digits that are impervious to heat, simply hold the lobster with tongs in one hand and yank on the leg with your other hand. Otherwise tug on the leg with a second set of tongs.)
  • 3. Using tongs, remove the lobster from the boiling water and transfer to the colander or the rack to drain and cool to room temperature.
  • 4. When the lobster is cool enough to handle, separate the lobster tail from the body. Using a fork, remove the tail meat. Using a cracker, the flat side of a chef’s knife, or the bottom of a heavy skillet, crack the claws and legs and remove the meat. The red roe, or coral, found in female lobsters, is considered by many to be a delicacy and can be reserved for another use. Coarsely chop the lobster tail and claw meat. Reserve the shells for making stock or discard.
  • 5. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise (using a little more or less, depending on how creamy you like it), lemon juice and zest, chives, scallion, just a touch of salt, and pepper to taste. Fold in the lobster meat. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Cover and refrigerate. (You can make the salad ahead of time, but refrigerate it for no more than 3 to 4 hours.)
  • 6. In a skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Cut the baguette pieces in half lengthwise and situate them so the inside of the bread is in the puddle of melted butter. Toast the baguette until it just begins to turn golden brown. (Alternately, brown the hot dog rolls until they begin to turn golden brown, flipping them over so they get toasted and buttery on both sides.) Divide the lobster between the pieces of toasted baguette. Serve the lobster roll immediately.

Lobster Roll Variations

  • Stir 1 tablespoon drained capers into the mayo
    Toss 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery in with the scallion
    Rely on lime juice and zest instead of lemon
    Line the baguette with tender leaves of butter lettuce
    Slices of ripe tomato 2 strips of cooked country-style bacon
    Thin slices of buttery avocado
    Very thin slices of red onion
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Recipe Testers Reviews

What excited me about this recipe is the fact that my husband grew up eating lobster rolls, so I was hoping I would impress him with this one. On the other hand, I often prefer shellfish in its simplicity, simply boiled in salt water and chili peppers so as to enjoy its full flavor. Well, the final consensus from us both was that this was a superb recipe, very easy to make and filled with the true original flavor of lobster, yet enhanced with the herbs and citrus juices. I did not bother buttering the bread on both sides as I thought one side would be enough, and sure enough it was (and this way our hands did not get as dirty). We will be making this simple weeknight recipe often.

This recipe is absolutely wonderful. The cool, creamy, lightly seasoned lobster salad and the warm, toasted, buttery roll are just a perfect marriage. If you’re squeamish about cooking the lobsters, check with your fish market; they may cook them for you. If you’re unsure about what is edible in there, ask if you can get just claws and tails uncooked; they will be more expensive than the whole lobster, but you will have only portions of edible meat. One thing I found is that if you’re not cooking the live lobsters the day you get them, you can hold them overnight by placing them in a large bowl, covered with ice. Chilling them well before cooking them makes the lobsters go into a hibernation state, which helps when you take the bands off the claws. I think some tarragon would add a nice freshness to this recipe in place of the chives. I found it does take longer to prepare than the 25 minutes, as it can take almost that long to remove the meat from the lobsters, but the results are well worth the time it takes to prepare this recipe.

Plain and simple, this sandwich is great! The dressing is light enough that it doesn’t mask the lobster flavor at all. I used one cup of cooked lobster and the celery variant in the mixture for a bit of crunch. The amount of baguette, using a three-inch interval, was not adequate for the lobster, so I’d recommend using four-inch lengths for ease of eating. (Sourdough buns or ciabatta rolls would also be good substitutes for the baguette.) One thing you may want to do is lightly pat the lobster meat dry, as the dressing may otherwise get a tad runny on you. Then again, eatin’ lobster and gettin’ messy is what she’s all about, eh?

When it comes to lobster rolls, most cooks agree that the KISS (keep it simple stupid) approach assures the best final product. Why spend the money on lobster if you’re just going to cover it up with other flavors? While a warm butter bath is always satisfying, I tend to think a chilled creamy filling pairs better with a toasted, buttered roll. Kathy Gunst agrees, and has created a spot-on dressing for this satisfying summer splurge. Kathy keeps it simple by adding to the creamy mayonnaise conservative amounts of the highly complementary flavors of lemon and onion-y fresh herbs. While Kathy lists celery as optional, I never omit it, as I like an occasional crunch, and I also would list a pinch of Old Bay or cayenne as one of those (highly suggested!) variations. The only place where I disagree with Kathy on what defines the ultimate lobster roll is the suggested vehicle for the perfectly seasoned lobster–I will always prefer a soft, tender New-England style hot dog roll (they ensure lots of toasting surface!) rather than a chewy, crusty baguette, which serves as a distraction to the tender texture of perfectly-cooked lobster. Similarly, resist the temptation to make the roll more sandwich-like by adding lettuce and tomato–relegate them to a simple side salad that will be the perfect accompaniment to this taste of a New England summer.

This recipe is very simple to put together, especially if you buy already steamed lobster. (I steamed it myself, but this was still very simple to make.) I used three four-ounce lobster tails instead of whole lobsters, which gave me a generous one cup of meat. I also used a baguette instead of a hot dog roll. While mixing the dressing, I was concerned about the amount of onion (chives and scallion) and thought it would overpower the lobster. The result was surprising. The lemon helped cut the taste of the onion, although I did have a hard time trying to keep it altogether, because when you cut the baguette in half, it doesn’t give you that pocket to hold in the lobster salad like a hot dog roll does. That makes it difficult to eat and keep all the filling inside the bread. We decided to make them open-face sandwiches, and they were very filling. I like the fact you could get the lobsters steamed at the store, come home, and put the salad together and let it chill and be ready for lunch. But because these are so messy to eat they would not be a good first date recipe!

Perfect excuse to use up leftover lobster. I happend to have 2 lobsters left over and this recipe was a great use for it. I added red onions and homemade pickles to it for an extra special flavor. I served it on a buttered, toasted, sesame seed hot dog bun. Mmm.


  1. What’s for dinner tonight? Lobster rolls with sliced potato planks, seasoned, oiled and then grilled on the grates of a new BBQ. A side of fresh garden salad with assorted seasonal produce including strawberries, dressed with a nice poppy seed dressing. Oh did I forget to mention the wine and/or beer.

      1. David, seriously? Butter and not mayo? I had no idea you swing that way!! HA! Enjoy. Lobster is so so cheap right now. There is a serious glut and its a great time for eating many many lobsters, or lobstahs as Mainers like to say! Have fun!

        1. Kathy, no I’m a 100% Mayo Man. No butter for me when it comes to lobster salad. I’ll be on Mount Desert Island, and I hear they’re already hoisting them in as a offering to me when I arrive on my barge!

  2. Excellent tips. Pre-cooked lobster meat makes this expensive and right now there is a glut of Maine lobster so perfect time to cook up a big batch and make these rolls!

    1. The recipe is easy and the results are great tasting, Mary! We hope you’ll try it and let us know what you think.

  3. The problem? What are recommended brands for the hot dog rolls? The split tops are hard to find in most grocer aisles around here :(

    1. Tracy, we’re confident that Kathy will be back with you in a moment with some specific hot dog bun recommendations. In the meantime, anyone else have any brands they rely on for lobster rolls?

    2. A poor substitute, but it does work: Cut a loaf of soft white bread, similar in shape to ciabatta, into 2-inch wide slices. (You’ll probably have to do this on an angle to get the proper hot-dog-bun length.) Then slice three-quarters of the way down the middle to mimic top-cut hot dog rolls. Butter up the sides and grill away.

  4. I live in a rather big city–Minneapolis, Mn.–and we can’t seem to find any rolls that are flat on the sides for buttering and grilling and can be split thru the top rather than the sides. We do have Vienna Chicago buns but they’re precut and they’re cut on the side. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? You either have to make your own or speak to a small personal bakery to make them.

    1. Stu, I’ve seen those Vienna side-split rolls. But I like your idea of speaking to a local baker. Hey, it can’t hurt, right? And it brings cooks that much closer to the production of their food.

  5. Living in CT, a lobster roll has always been hot, dripping-with-butter, succulent lobster piled high in a grilled hotdog bun. Cold lobster with mayo would be served on a bed of lettuce or stuffed into a tomato as a luncheon entree, but never on a roll. Actually both sound great right about now!

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