How to Prepare Lobster Tails for Baking

by Zora Hughes
Butterflied lobster tails are an impressive way to serve lobster tails.

Butterflied lobster tails are an impressive way to serve lobster tails.

When you splurge on lobster tails, you want to cook these tasty, but pricey, delicacies correctly. Baked lobster tails brushed with seasoned garlic butter is a delicacy. Before you put them in the oven, however, you need to first decide how you want to prepare and serve them. Baked lobster tails can be served in variety of ways, including butterfly-style outside of the shell, cooked whole inside the shell, or split in half.

Butterfly Style

Defrost your lobster tails, if frozen, by placing them in your refrigerator overnight. Place the defrosted lobster tails on a clean cutting board.

Wedge kitchen shears or a sharp chef's knife underneath the shell and cut the shell down to the base of the tail. Do not cut the meat. For ease of cutting, use kitchen shears.

Spread the shell apart where you cut it, gently and carefully, lifting out the meat underneath the shell. You should only see a connection to the shell at the base where the tail fins are located.

Squeeze the shell back together as much as possible and lay the lobster meat on top of it. At this point, you can bake the lobster tails as they are, or you can continue on to butterfly them for an even fancier presentation.

Cut a slit down the center of the lobster meat and slowly pull it apart like an open book, folding the sides over the shell to create the butterfly look. The butterflied lobsters are ready to bake in the oven.

Whole in-Shell

Turn the lobster tails over so that the underside of the lobster tail is facing up.

Use your kitchen shears or a small knife to cut along both sides of the thin, clear shell on the underside of the lobster tail. Cut until you reach the base of the tail; then cut across to release it.

Pull the shell off the lobster tail by peeling it back from the top and peeling on back. Scrape across the meat gently with your knife to remove any membrane that remained after pulling off the shell.

Pick up the lobster tail and wedge your knife underneath the top shell to loosen the meat from it, which will make it easier to pull out the meat to eat once it is baked.

Split in Half

Place a lobster with the top shell up on a clean cutting board.

Hold the blade of a large chef's knife directly on the center of the lobster tail with one hand and push down firmly on the blade with the palm of your other hand to split the lobster cleanly in half.

Place the lobster halves flesh-side up and glide the knife along the sides of the meat to loosen it from the skin. The split lobster tails are ready for baking.

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Items you will need

  • Lobster tails
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen shears
  • Chef's knife


  • Wrap the lobster tails in aluminum foil before baking them, if desired, which is helpful for extra-large lobster tails that take a little longer to cook and helps prevent them from drying out.


  • Smell your lobster tails once they have thawed. If they have a ammonia smell, it is a sign they are spoiled and should not be eaten. Eating spoiled shellfish puts you at risk for contracting a foodborne illness, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
  • When preparing the lobster tails, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that you cook them to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption. Your lobster meat is done when it goes from translucent to pearly and opaque in color.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

Photo Credits

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