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Easy Sous Vide Lobster Tail

Enjoy an impressive, succulent butter-poached sous vide lobster tail for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, New Years or birthday celebration. Perfectly cooked every single time with just 3 simple ingredients. A truly decadent treat!

With a couple of tips, this recipe is especially easy as there is no extra searing step needed with most sous vide cooking. 

2 lobster tails in butter in dish with tarragon

For this sous vide lobster tail recipe, all you need is 3 ingredientslobster tails, butter and tarragon. If you don’t have or like tarragon (a classic combination with butter), you can use other fresh herbs. A squeeze of lemon juice is also a perfect finisher and pairing if you like lemon.

Tips: The hardest part of the recipe is removing the lobster tail meat from the shell. But don’t worry, it’s not that hard and we have a video to help if you need it. The only other tip is for defrosting lobster tails which you can do overnight in the fridge or a quicker way (see FAQ). 

Traditional methods vs sous vide method

While lobster tails can successfully be grilled, boiled, steamed or baked, these more traditional methods all have one drawback in common. It’s simply too easy to get overcooked lobster with a rubbery texture. Especially if you’re cooking lobster tails for the first time or infrequently.

The sous vide method uses precise temperatures that will cook the lobster tails in a sous vide water bath to the exact doneness you choose, every time. With such an expensive delicacy, this is a huge stress reducer. It’s the easiest way for pretty much guaranteed perfection

Cook Time and Temperature

Choosing the best temperature is the only guesswork you will have the first time you make the recipe. You will need to experiment based on these options to find your sweet spot. 

  • 130F/54.4C: tender, juicy, slightly translucent 
  • 136F-138F/57.8-59C: tender, succulent, little to no translucence (this is my preference)
  • 140F/60C: tender, slightly firmer, similar to a steamed lobster
  • 150F/65.6C: firm, closer to traditional texture

You can, of course, try any temperatures in between.

How to serve sous vide lobster tails

The beauty of this lobster tail recipe is that it can be served just as buttery lobster tail on its own with the butter pouch liquid (or extra butter) and a squeeze of lemon.

Or the same tail meat can be used to make:

  • the best lobster rolls, served in traditional hot dog buns
  • a delicious instant pot lemon asparagus risotto, sprinkled with diced butter poached lobster meat.
  • a surf and turf dinner (drop a steak in a sous vide bag into the same water bath 1/2 hour before you put the lobster in)

As for a side dish, here are a few of my favorites:

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Fresh herbs: Tarragon is classic with lobster. Other good options are chives, cilantro, dill, oregano and herbes de provence. If you don’t have fresh herbs, use a pinch of dried herbs (you don’t want to overpower the delicately flavored lobster meat)
  • Butter: I use salted butter (and no extra salt), but you can also use unsalted butter with a scant pinch of salt. Feel free to clarify the butter to remove the milk solids, but for this recipe, it’s not necessary as it would only affect the appearance since you are not frying with it.
  • Use the lobster in different ways: Instead of eating the lobster tails with butter, repurpose them with one of the suggestions above e.g. in lobster rolls.

How to make a lobster tail sous vide

3 frozen lobster tails, butter, fresh tarragon
Ingredients: frozen lobster tails in shell, butter, fresh tarragon or other herb. 
cutting lobster meat out of shell
Thaw lobster tails overnight in fridge or quickly in cold water. Use kitchen shears or scissors to remove lobster meat from shell. See video link in recipe card.
lobster tails in sous vide bag with butter and tarragon
Place lobster in a ziplock bag with butter and fresh tarragon.
lobster tails in water bath
Sous vide lobster tails at the temperature you prefer for 45-60 minutes.
bag of lobster tails finished cooking
Remove the tail meat from the bag. Pour the sous vide butter sauce mixed with lobster juices from the bag into a shallow dish (or use additional melted butter). Place the lobster tails on top and serve.
2 lobster tails in butter in dish
Sprinkle with parsley or other fresh herbs and serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
2 lobster tails on plate with salad and lemon
Or serve with a side dish (see suggestions) with lemon wedges.
2 lobster tails in butter in dish p

FAQ

What is a good size for lobster tails?

Most would say 5-12 ounces (141-340g) is the best size per tail. Some believe tails in the smaller range are sweeter and more tender.

What is the best type of lobster tail to buy?

There are two types: warm-water lobsters (from e.g. Florida, California, Caribbean, Australia, ) and cold-water lobsters (from e.g. Canada and Maine). Most sites agree that the more expensive cold-water lobster is superior – more tender, whiter meat, cleaner taste. Warm water tails are not as reliable (they can get mushy when cooked longer) and some mention that they have a slight ammonia smell.

How much lobster tail should I figure per person?

Figure 5-10 ounces (141-283 grams) per person, depending on what you can afford and how big your eaters are. Lobster with butter is quite rich so take that into account. One to two tails per person is a good portion size.

Can you sous vide lobster claws?

You can, but the claw meat is difficult to remove from the shell in one piece, so I would say sous vide is not the best option. Claw meat also needs a different temperature – closer to 150F (65.6C), but cooking time is the same.

Can you cook lobster tails from frozen?

It would be difficult to remove the meat from a frozen tail, so it’s better to defrost the tails first. However, cooking a lobster tail from frozen is possible if you keep the shell on while cooking. Just add 30 minutes to the cook time. Then remove the tail meat after the cooking process.

What should I look for when buying lobster tails?

Look for a packaging label that says ‘lobster’ only. Try to avoid tails that include tripolyphosphate (preservative). Look for tails that have no discoloration and no black spots on the flesh of the lobster meat. It’s safest to buy frozen lobster tails unless you buy them from a trusted fishmonger.

Make Ahead

  • To store. Remove from sous vide water bath, plunge bag into an ice bath for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to fridge for 2-3 days. OR remove from bag, place in an airtight container and keep in fridge for up to 4 days (if lobster is removed from the shell).
  • To reheat: place lobster in ziplock bag, heat sous vide machine or water bath to 120F, submerge bag using water displacement method and rewarm for abut 20 minutes.

Love sous vide cooking?

Try our best sous vide recipes with tips for beginners

2 lobster tails in butter in dish with tarragon
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5 from 6 votes

Easy Sous Vide Lobster Tail

Enjoy an easy, impressive and succulent butter-poached sous vide lobster tail for a special occasion. Perfectly cooked every single time with just 3 simple ingredients. A decadent treat!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Equipment

  • sous vide device (sous vide machine or immersion circulator)
  • sous vide water bath (large pot or plastic container)
  • bag (ziplock plastic bags or vacuum seal bag)

Ingredients

  • 2 -3 lobster tails, thawed, Note 1 and 2
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 stem of fresh tarragon, Note 3

Instructions

  • HEAT SOUS VIDE WATER BATH: to your desired temperature, Note 4.
  • REMOVE TAIL MEAT FROM SHELLS: Using a kitchen shears or scissors, cut down the middle of the underside of the shell. Pry both sides of the shell open on both sides with your fingers, cracking the shell open. Use a soup spoon (glide it between the meat and the shell) to pry the meat out of the shell. Or use your fingers to pry it out. Here's a video on how to remove the tail from the shell.
  • BAG LOBSTER TAIL MEAT: Place lobster meat in a ziplock bag (to use the water displacement method). Add 3 tablespoons butter and tarragon or another herb. If the butter is unsalted, add a scant pinch of salt. Alternatively, use a vacuum seal bag and seal with a vacuum sealer.
  • SOUS VIDE LOBSTER: Cook lobster tails in sous vide water bath for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • FINISH AND SERVE: Remove lobster tails from bag. Pour pouch liquid into a shallow bowl, place lobster tail(s) on top, sprinkle with parsley or tarragon and squeeze on lemon juice or serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

  1. How to buy lobster tails: buy 2-3 tails for two people, depending on size. Figure 2 per person if 4-6 ounces (113-170 grams) or one per person if 7-12 ounces (198-340 grams). If possible, buy the superior cold-water lobster tails, avoiding packages that say tripolyphosphate (preservative) on them.
  2. How to thaw lobster tail (2 options): 
    • Defrost overnight in fridge, or 
    • Place in bowl of cold water (you can put them in a bag if you like) for 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Fresh herbs: If you don’t have or like tarragon, try fresh chives, oregano, dill or cilantro. Or a pinch of dried herbs like herbes de provence. 
  4. Temperature setting for sous vide bath. Choose best temperature for you. 
    • 130F/54.4C: tender, juicy, slightly translucent 
    • 136F-138F/57.8-59C: tender, succulent, little to no translucence (this is my preference)
    • 140F/60C: tender, slightly firmer, similar to a steamed lobster
    • 150F/65.6C: firm, closer to traditional texture
  5. Make ahead
    • To store. Remove from sous vide water bath, plunge bag into an ice bath for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to fridge for 2-3 days. OR remove from bag, place in an airtight container and keep in fridge for up to 4 days (if lobster is removed from the shell).
    • To reheat: place lobster in ziplock bag, heat sous vide machine or water bath to 120F, submerge bag using water displacement method and rewarm for abut 20 minutes.
 
Nutritional values are estimates and will depend on size of lobster tails and how much butter is used. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Sous Vide Lobster Tail
Amount Per Serving
Calories 183 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 96mg32%
Sodium 318mg14%
Potassium 100mg3%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 547IU11%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 44mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this for dinner – for no particular occasion – but oh so good. and easy as pie (easier than pie for sure).

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