This lobster roll, a summertime classic in Maine (heck, in all of New England), is made with cool, creamy mayo and lemon swaddling sweet lobster in a toasted split-top roll.
This lobster roll 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. Much as we love cool, creamy mayo, we feel compelled to point out that there is actually more than one way to make a lobster roll, and that other lobster roll simplifies things to no adornment other than a drizzle of melted butter. But since most of Maine seems to prefer mayo, perhaps you start there? Or rather, here.–Renee Schettler Rossi
How To Tell The Difference Between Male And Female Lobster
We’re often asked how do you tell the difference between a male and a female lobster? And our standard response is, 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. Guess you’ll need to discern that for yourself.
- 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, preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1 tablespoon very finely chopped scallion
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Two chunks baguette (you can substitute 2 hot dog rolls, preferably split top)
- Add enough water to a large pot to reach a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Bring it to a rolling boil. Place a colander or a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking dish.
- Carefully remove the rubber bands from the lobster claws. Lower the lobsters into the boiling water, shell side down, cover the pot, and cook until done, about 11 minutes.
- Using tongs, remove the lobster from the boiling water and transfer them to the colander or the rack to drain and cool to room temperature.
- When the lobster is cool enough to handle, use your hands to 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.
- 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.
- Gently fold the lobster meat into the mayonnaise mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Cover and refrigerate for no more than 3 to 4 hours.
- In a skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Cut the baguette pieces in half lengthwise and place them, cut side down, in the puddle of 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 (and devour) immediately.
Lobster Roll VariationStir 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
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Plain and simple, this sandwich is great! The dressing is light enough that it doesn’t mask the lobster flavor at all.
I used a cup of cooked lobster and celery 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 is absolutely wonderful. The cool, creamy, lightly seasoned lobster salad and the warm, toasted, buttery roll are just a perfect marriage.
I think some tarragon would add a nice freshness to this recipe in place of the chives.
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 end up with only 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.
The results are well worth the time it takes to prepare this recipe.
What excited me about these rolls 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 is 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 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 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.
I used 3 four-ounce lobster tails instead of whole lobsters, which gave me a generous 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.
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. But because these are so messy to eat they would not be a good first-date meal!
Perfect excuse to use up leftover lobster. I happend to have 2 lobsters left over and this recipe was a great use. 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.
Originally published August 29, 2019