Grilled Lobster Tails with Herbed Butter and Baby Potatoes

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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.

Vertical image of a large plate with cooked shell-on seafood and potatoes, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

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.

Vertical image of a large plate full of cooked vegetables and shell-on seafood next to lemon slices and a blue napkin.

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.

Vertical image of a large plate full of cooked vegetables and shell-on seafood next to lemon slices and a blue napkin, with rose in the background.

There are all kinds of ways to cook lobster from dropping the whole thing in a steamer pot to turning the claws into finger food.

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?

Vertical close-up image of cooked seafood with herbs and butter next to vegetables on a large plate.

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.

Vertical image of a large plate full of cooked vegetables and shell-on seafood next to lemon slices and a blue napkin.

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
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Horizontal image of a large plate full of cooked seafood with butter on top next to a vegetable side dish.

Grilled Lobster Tails with Herbed Butter and Baby Potatoes


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

Kick off cookout season right with this lobster tail and baby potato duo that’s grilled to perfection and drenched in herbed butter.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high, about 350-400°F.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.
  6. Slice a 1-inch piece off of the herbed butter, cut it into quarters, and scatter over the potatoes and onions.
  7. Fold up the corners of the foil to seal the package tightly.
  8. Place on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes, and then open the package and gently toss the potatoes to promote even cooking.
  9. 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. 
  10. 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. 
  11. 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.
  12. Cook the potatoes until knife-tender, about 20 minutes total. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
  13. 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.

Horizontal image of assorted prepped seafood, herbs, vegetables, and other ingredients.

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.

Take your lobster out of the fridge, and don’t forget to grab your olive oil and salt and pepper mills!

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.

Horizontal image of slicing shell-on seafood in half with a chef's knife on a wooden cutting board.

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.

Horizontal image of a compound butter in a log shape on parchment paper.

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.

Horizontal image of a wrapped log of compound butter.

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.

Horizontal image of a foil package filled with prepped and seasoned vegetables

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.

Horizontal image of foil packages with seasoned vegetables cooking on the grill.

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.

Horizontal image of seasoning raw shell-on season on top of a blue napkin.

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.

Horizontal image of grilling shell-on seafood and vegetables in foil packages on the grill.

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.

Horizontal image of grilling shell-on seafood topped with pats of flavored butter.

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.

Horizontal image of a large plate full of cooked seafood with butter on top next to a vegetable side dish.

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.

Horizontal image of a small white plate and a large dish with cooked seafood with butter and grilled vegetables next to a blue napkin and glass of wine.

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.”

19 thoughts on “Grilled Lobster Tails with Herbed Butter and Baby Potatoes”

  1. This dish look so awesome. It looks so refreshing and lite. Thank you for posting this dish I will be trying this in the near future with my husband. I’m sure he’ll love it. What wine would you recommend with this dish?

    Thanks again,
    Eileen100

    Reply
    • Thanks Eileen100, it is a very light and satisfying meal – perfect for a summer. And here’s my response in another lobster post about wine pairings. To accompany the lobster: Chardonnay for its citrus overtones, the hint of spiciness in Gewurztraminer works well, as does the simplicity of a Pinot Grigio. As for beers, a crisp pilsner, pale ale or witbier all work well with lobster. Enjoy your lobster!

      Reply
  2. Woah, only that picture made my mouth water, not to mention the name of it! I’ve honestly never tried this version of grilled lobster tails considering that I’m a lobster fan, for life! 🙂

    Reply
  3. I love the idea of the fresh herbed butter, and want to try making it. There’s nothing better with lobster than butter, and I would imagine the herbs would improve the taste even more. Those potatoes look delectable. I’ve only grilled sliced potatoes a few times, and never thought to add onions in with them, so I’ll have to try this. I’ve also never thought of grilling lobster, and now that it’s grilling season, I’ll be trying this recipe out soon.

    Reply
    • I think you’ll enjoy it Diane, it’s so easy to make. And the grilled potatoes with herbed butter make a great pairing with the lobster… try adding garden fresh baby carrots too when they’re available, delicious!

      Reply
  4. Oh, wow. This sounds really great. I haven’t had lobster on the grill, but I would certainly give it a try. This sounds like a fairly simple way to make it as well.

    I just recently learned about how to “piggyback” lobster tails and was so proud of the broiled ones I made for Valentine’s Day. I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to preparing this delicacy, so thanks for the recipe and tips. I’ll look like an old pro when I pull this one off.

    Reply
    • If you can piggyback a lobster tail, grilling’s going to be a breeze Zyni. Very simple and straightforward, and sure to impress!

      Reply
  5. Looks great. I am going to say that this is will taste excellent. I like how it is served open. This is important because lobster can be too much work to eat. Really good ingredients overall. I would have kept it more simple but I like this.

    Reply
    • It’s certainly a winner in my books Nikole. And this recipe really is an easy way to make mouth-watering lobster – hope you enjoy it!

      Reply
  6. I’ve always wondered what lobster tastes like. Is it anywhere between like shrimp and crab? It isn’t sold where I’m from. Crabs, prawns and squid are commonly available at the nearby wet market but sadly, there are no types of shellfish or crustaceans from the Atlantic readily available. Perhaps I can spin it a little and use other seafood with this recipe since it is not easily obtainable here in the Philippines?

    Reply
  7. My family members are seafood lovers and they would truly love this recipe. I myself would love this if only I didn’t develop allergies for crustaceans. Apparently, late onset allergy can happen. As a child and teenager, my family always have seafood in our food menu. From time to time, we did get to enjoy lobster dishes when eating out at restaurants. Up until now, I could still remember how good they taste whether they are grilled, cooked with special sauces. Once in a while, if they prepare a dish like this at home or order a similar dish in the restaurant, I would try eating a little bit. Unfortunately, almost immediately my tongue begins to itch, and I stop getting another bite for fear of another allergic attack.

    Reply
  8. Well where I live we do not get to enjoy lobster all that much, and not nearly as much as I would like to, but I do make it a point to get it at least a couple of times a year just because it is one of my favorites. I will say that I have never grilled them, in all my years. I am pretty sure I have had them grilled at a restaurant before, but never done it myself, which is interesting. I think that I might have to try this next time, and it is certainly a way to spice things up a little bit. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  9. This is actually pretty close to my answer of what my last meal would be when people ask me that. I am not sure many people have asked me that, but that is what immediately came to mind. I love lobster, but it is just so expensive here. This really looks like quite a treat though, so thanks.

    Reply

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