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Of all the culinary adventures I’ve shared with my dad’s New Jersey family, whole grilled lobsters enjoyed on the northeastern end of Long Island will always hold a special place in my stomach.
I’m not (yet) at the point in my adult life where I can treat a dozen of my closest relatives to a seafood extravaganza at the Hamptons, but this recipe where luxurious lobster tails and buttery baby potatoes are kissed with smoke certainly comes close.
Gatherings with my extended family were always food-centric, but there wasn’t much variation in the dishes. Hey, we like what we like.
Friday afternoon get-togethers were branded by exquisitely triple-stacked deli sandwiches on rye with velvety Russian dressing, slaw, and turkey. Late morning Sunday spreads consistently featured crackly, chewy bagels accompanied by chive-dotted cream cheese, paper-thin mounds of smoked salmon, and heaps of capers.
One year for the 4th of July, we all assembled at my aunt and uncle’s house in the Hamptons for a cookout. If you’re picturing cheeseburgers and store-bought potato salad, you’ve clearly never met my dad’s sister and her husband.
They’re known for throwing quite the fiesta, and the fireworks they planned for this heat wave of a holiday were whole grilled lobsters served right on the beach. I was in my early 20s and hadn’t yet fully explored my passion for the epicurean arts, but I knew a memorable meal when I saw one.
With my toes in the warm sand and my sister by my side, I’ll never forget the gorgeous crimson crustacean that was slid under my nose. I showered it in bright lemon juice to cut through the smokiness and successfully finished the meal with melted butter running down to my elbows.
Come on. That was kind of funny…
Today’s recipe, in my humble opinion, takes advantage of the best part of the spiny seafood. Who needs the Hamptons when you have firm, juicy lobster tails and potatoes infused with smoke and saturated in butter to enjoy at home?
The tail meat has a creaminess to it that – while splendid if enjoyed solo – is made even richer when it’s paired with melted butter. I mean, who wouldn’t be?
And since the only cooking required is gently tossing the curvy tails and potatoes (protected in their foil package) on the barbecue grill, I figured: why not step it up a notch?
If the idea of making compound butter sounds even remotely intimidating, let me put you at ease.
Can you soften butter? Can you chop herbs? Can you mash things together? Great! You can make compound butter.
Ours relies on grassy parsley, oniony chives, and licoricey tarragon – a classic pairing for lobster.
Fragrant garlic is also pounded into the mixture, adding a savory undertone.
You’ll find more uses for this herbed butter than you could ever imagine, so I recommend doubling the recipe – especially since you can prepare it ahead of time and store as much as you like in the freezer.
Smear it onto an English muffin for an epic breakfast sandwich. Drop it onto a steak as it develops a nice crust in a cast iron pan. Swirl it into pasta. Trust me, you’ll never get bored with this butter.
The fiery grill turns it into a bubbly flavor bath for the potatoes and onions inside their protected little bundle – which, P.S., requires almost no babysitting once placed over the grate.
Opening it up to test for doneness will feel like tearing into the best package you’ve ever received.Print
Kick off cookout season right with this lobster tail and baby potato duo that’s grilled to perfection and drenched in herbed butter.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, plus sprigs for garnish
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound new potatoes (about 12), halved
- 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 8-ounce lobster tails, sliced lengthwise down the center
- Lemon wedges, for garnish
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, tarragon, parsley, chives, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Mash with a fork until thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the herbed butter onto a sheet of wax paper, then shape into an inch-thick log by rolling the paper. Fold the end flaps under to seal the and then refrigerate (or freeze) until firm. Or, fill and freeze in your choice of butter molds.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high, about 350-400°F.
- Place the potatoes and onions in a large bowl. Season with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Toss together to make sure everything is evenly coated.
- Spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and place the seasoned potatoes and onions on top, leaving enough room to pull up the corners and enclose the packet.
- Slice a 1-inch piece off of the herbed butter, cut it into quarters, and scatter over the potatoes and onions.
- Fold up the corners of the foil to seal the package tightly.
- Place on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes, and then open the package and gently toss the potatoes to promote even cooking.
- While the potatoes are cooking, brush the lobster tails all over with the remaining olive oil and season the meat with the remaining salt and pepper.
- When the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes, place the lobster tails meat side-down on the grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Using tongs, flip the tails so the exposed meat is facing up.
- Place a generous pat of herbed butter on each tail. Cook until the meat is opaque and the shells are bright red, another 3-5 minutes. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 140°F when it’s done.
- Cook the potatoes until knife-tender, about 20 minutes total. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
- Transfer the potatoes and lobster tails to a serving platter. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley. Serve immediately with extra herbed butter.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Lobster
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: lobster tail, baby potatoes, onions, grill, butter
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Measure, and Prep Ingredients
Lobster and fresh tarragon make a classic pairing, but if you can’t find tarragon, fresh basil will work as a substitute.
Allow the butter to soften by leaving it out at room temperature for 1 hour.
Reserve a few parsley sprigs for garnish. Mince the tarragon, parsley, chives, and garlic.
To incorporate the garlic even more thoroughly into the butter, once it’s minced, you can turn it into a paste on your cutting board by sprinkling it with salt and smashing it with the flat side of your chef’s knife.
Halve the potatoes, or quarter any especially large ones so they’re all about the same size. Slice the onion. Cut the lemon into wedges for garnish.
Can’t find 8-ounce lobster tails? That’s OK! Keep in mind that if you are cooking smaller tails that only weigh 4 to 6 ounces apiece, they’ll only need about 5 to 6 minutes total to cook.
Step 2 – Split the Lobster Tails
Unless this has already been done for you, you’re going to need to split the lobster tails. Place them on a cutting board flat-side down, with the curved side facing up.
Using a large, sharp chef’s knife and starting at the tip of the tail, firmly rock the knife up and down lengthwise, applying pressure with the palm of your free hand to the back of the blade.
Press down to slice through the shell and meat, butterflying the tail down the center so it opens like a book, without cutting all the way through. Open it up so it lays flat, but still attached.
Step 3 – Make and Chill the Herbed Butter
Place the softened butter in a small mixing bowl and add the tarragon, parsley, chives, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using a fork, mash the butter, garlic, and herbs together until thoroughly combined.
You can use wax paper, plastic wrap, parchment paper, or butter molds to shape the butter. I love these delicate silicone sunflower molds, which are available on Amazon.
Fill the molds, or transfer the herbed butter onto a sheet of paper or wrap. Shape into a 1-inch-thick log by rolling and forming it in the paper. Fold the end flaps under to seal and then refrigerate or freeze until firm enough to slice.
The herbed butter will set in the freezer in about 20 minutes, or it will take about 1 hour in the fridge.
Step 4 – Prep the Potato Package
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high, about 350 to 400°F.
Place the potatoes and onions in a large bowl. Drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Toss everything together until the potatoes and onions are evenly coated.
You can use your hands (if you’re fine with a little mess!) or a sturdy spoon for this step.
Spray a large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Transfer the seasoned potatoes and onions onto the foil, making sure you leave enough room around the edges so you’re able to pull up the outside corners and seal the package.
You can also use two smaller pieces of foil so the potatoes aren’t stacked on top of each other. This way, they remain in a single layer, allowing them to become more browned and crispy on the bottom as they grill.
Slice off an inch of the herbed butter, cut it into quarters, and scatter it over the potatoes and onions.
Enclose the vegetables in the package by folding up the corners of the foil and pinching them together to seal.
Step 5 – Add the Potatoes to the Grill and Prep the Lobster
Gently place the potato package on the grill and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
Carefully open the package, being mindful of the hot steam that’s released, and gently toss everything to make sure it’s cooking evenly. The butter should be bubbling away in the bottom, and tossing will help to redistribute it. Re-seal and return to the grill.
While the potatoes are cooking, place the remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the lobster tails all over with the oil and season the meat with the remaining salt and pepper.
Step 6 – Grill the Lobster, Top with the Butter, and Serve
When the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes, add the lobster tails to the grill meat-side down and cook for 5 minutes.
Using tongs, flip the tails over so the meat is facing up. Place a generous pat of herbed butter on a thicker part of each tail, so it doesn’t slip off.
Cook until the shells are bright red and the meat is firm and opaque, for another 3 to 5 minutes. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 140°F when it’s done.
Continue cooking the potatoes until they’re knife-tender, for about 20 minutes total. Taste for additional salt.
Transfer the potatoes and lobster tails to a serving platter, making sure to drip any butter that remains in the foil package back onto the potatoes.
Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley. Serve immediately with extra herbed butter.
Guru of the Grill
If a charcoal or gas grill isn’t your thing and you prefer to use a grill pan on the stove, you can still step right up to this smoky seafood experience.
Or if you’re working with a small beginner grill – like the one I found for free on the side of the road – you’re still welcome to the party. Don’t let surface area stop you.
You can cook the potatoes in their package first, then place them in a low oven to keep warm while you grill the lobster.
No matter the vessel, read up on these barbecue safety tips before sparking things up.
Wood chips, charcoal, or a handy propane tank – how do you fire up your grill? Share your smoky suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
The smoke-infused potatoes in this recipe are a game changer that will only lead to more carb cravings. If you feel me on that, take these other spud recipes for a spin next:
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Lorna Kring on May 24, 2015. Last updated on June 30, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”