The Best Lobster Salad

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In the land of seafood, lobster is king.

Vertical image of bib lettuce with a seafood mixture inside on a white plate on a blue napkin, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Actually, I don’t know if I can name a land where lobster isn’t king. Well, I guess in “The Little Mermaid,” Sebastian was merely an advisor and distinguished court composer. Though there’s a lot of debate regarding whether that character was a lobster or a crab.

Anyway. I digress.

You know you’re about to have a royal dining experience when you spot the classy crustacean on a menu.

And although you may be dying to don yourself in the white bibb and polish your finest set of seafood crackers until they shine, indulging in lobster doesn’t always mean you have to go the full Monty.

Lobster meat finds its way into many a comfort food that you can enjoy with no white tablecloths required. Need proof? Brief anecdote ahead.

Vertical top-down image of bib lettuce with a seafood and fresh vegetable mixed salad on top, with fresh herbs, a blue napkin, and a glass of beer next to it.

Every so often, my dad calls on plump morsels of rich lobster meat to enhance his homemade mac and cheese.

He weaves the nuggets alongside funky taleggio, aged cheddar, and gooey fontina for a dinner so delicious that the only thing required alongside is a pair of sweatpants and a cozy spot in the living room.

Yes, my family makes gourmet food and eats it in front of the television on wicker trays, because we prefer comfort and silly rom-coms over stuffy dining room tables.

P.S. Whoever said seafood and cheese don’t belong together is not welcome on our sofa.

Instead of thrusting wiggly live crustaceans into a vat of boiling water, I always observed my dad using the tails. Not only do you have to literally face your dinner when you go with the first option, but it’s no secret some folks believe the tails contain the best meat of all.

Vertical image of a white plate with bib lettuce and a mixed lobster salad on top, next to silverware, a blue napkin, and a glass of beer.

Why go to all that trouble when the best meat’s in there, and they’re easier to prepare? It’s slightly firmer, so the chew gives it an ideal texture to marry with other ingredients.

If you’re brave enough to cook live lobsters (Mrs. Doubtfire sure was!), you can make the job a little easier by using a stockpot with a steamer basket instead of placing them directly into the hot tub. I like this one that’s available from the Bayou Classic Store via Amazon. Instructions for prepping whole lobsters are included below, so keep reading!

Looking for more options? A variety of convenient seafood pots offer an easier removal method for preparing our little shelled friends. Read our review of the best lobster, clam, and crab pots now.

Whatever approach you take to get crackin’, just make sure there’s plenty to go around. In this case, you won’t need too much.

The real beauty of this dish lies in the fact that it’s a salad. You’re able to fill in the blanks on the plate with fresh vegetables like cucumber instead of using more lobster meat, which can get pricey.

Vertical image of a seafood salad on bib lettuce on a blue napkin.

Think of this dish in contrast to classic lobster rolls, for example, where you want nothing but meat, butter, and more meat.

Here, the burst of juicy cherry tomatoes match the lobster’s sweetness, while diced cucumbers add refreshing crunch and avocados bring a silky mouthfeel. Light and fruity white wine vinegar, grassy dill, and green onions create an elegant dressing to harmonize all the flavors.

It’s important to not oversaturate the delicate ingredients, and rather, dress them lightly so their personality still comes through. Since lobster is king, after all, you want to pull those succulent hunks front and center.

Don’t forget to say, “Yes, your majesty,” to an ice-cold golden ale alongside, if that strikes your fancy. Or check out our roundup of supremely quaffable NA options if you prefer a tasty beverage sans alcohol.

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Horizontal image of a white plate with bib lettuce and a seafood and vegetable mixture on a blue napkin.

The Best Lobster Salad


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Level up your greens with our sweet, luscious lobster salad loaded with crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, and a tangy dill dressing.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions, green tops only 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for cooking
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 45 lobster tails (about 16 ounces cooked meat)
  • 2 heads butter lettuce (such as Boston or bibb), leaves separated and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup diced seedless cucumber
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes 
  • 2 ripe avocados, cut into bite-size pieces

Instructions

  1. Combine the green onions, dill, mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly stream in the oil, whisking as you pour, until the dressing is emulsified. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water nearby.
  3. Add the lobster tails to the pot, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the meat is firm and pinkish-white and the shells are bright red, about 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the tails to the ice bath and remove after they’ve cooled to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  4. Place a tail on its side and press down to crack the shell. From here, you can pry the rest of the shell open with your fingers and remove the meat. Repeat with each tail. Coarsely chop the meat into big chunks.
  5. Arrange the lettuce on 4 individual salad plates and drizzle each with about 1 tablespoon of the dressing. In a large bowl, add about 1/3 of the cucumber and cherry tomatoes, and all of the lobster meat. Pour in all but about 1/4 cup of the remaining dressing and gently fold the salad together.
  6. Plate the salad in even portions on top of the lettuce, surround it with the remaining cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado, and drizzle with the remaining dressing. Serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 mintues
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Salad

Keywords: lobster, salad, mustard, dill

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Gather and Prep Ingredients

Wash all of your produce and separate the lettuce leaves. The outer leaves of butter lettuce are usually large and work well when you’re using it as a “bed” for something, but you can also cut them into bite-size pieces. I like to plate some of the smaller leaves right in the center, under the salad ingredients.

Horizontal image of assorted prepped vegetables and liquid ingredient sin small white bowls next to whole scallions, lettuce, and seafood.

Butter lettuce is very soft and tender, but if you’d prefer something heartier, you can substitute mixed greens or arugula. Use about 2 cups per person.

Chop the dill, dice the cucumber, and halve the cherry tomatoes.

The easiest way to dice a cylindrical ingredient like a cucumber that tends to roll around on the cutting board is to first slice a small strip off one side so it sits flat. From there, slice the cucumber lengthwise into slabs.

Stack the slabs and slice them lengthwise into strips, keeping the cucumber intact by holding the pieces together, and then run your knife through the strips crosswise to make quarter-inch cubes.

You can also cut the cucumber into half-moons if you prefer that shape.

Halve the cherry tomatoes. Grape tomatoes also work well, and a multi-colored mix adds a nice pop of color.

Halve and pit the avocado and cut into bite-size pieces. You can also slice the avocado into strips or chunks, but I prefer to cut it similarly to the cucumber for an elegant presentation.

Step 2 – Make the Dill Dressing

Feel free to substitute another light-colored acidic ingredient for the white wine vinegar, like lemon juice or champagne vinegar.

Horizontal image of a bright yellow herbed dressing in a white bowl next to a whisk and bowls of prepped vegetables.

The dill and green onions add some texture to the dressing. If you’d prefer it to be smoother, you can use a food processor or blender to break the ingredients down a bit more. You can also add 1 to 2 teaspoons of mayo to help emulsify and thicken the dressing.

Prepare the dressing by adding the green onions, dill, mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar to a small bowl, and stir to combine. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking continuously, until the dressing comes together. Taste some on a piece of lettuce and adjust the salt as needed. Set aside.

Step 3 – Cook the Lobster

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water nearby.

Horizontal image of gloved hands holding raw lobster tails over a pot of boiling water next to a bowl of ice cubes.

Lobster tails – which are easy to work with and readily available at most seafood counters – are typically sold with about 5 per pound, which gives you enough meat for the 4 servings in this recipe. This may vary, of course, depending on size. You want to have about 4 ounces per person.

The rule of thumb for tails is about 1 minute of cook time per ounce, so make sure to reduce the cooking time as needed if you purchase smaller ones.

Add the lobster tails to the pot, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the meat is firm and pinkish-white and the shells are bright red. For me, this took about 8 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the tails to the ice bath. Remove after they’ve cooled to the touch, in about 5 minutes.

If you’d prefer, you can also start with live lobsters. Select ones that are about 1 1/2 pounds each. You’ll aim to end up with about 4 cups of cooked meat to use in this recipe.

Horizontal image of cooked lobster tails in a bowl of ice water.

Carefully drop the lobsters headfirst into a large pot of salted boiling water, cover the pot quickly, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the lobsters are fully cooked and the shells are bright red, for about 10 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer them to the ice bath and remove after they’ve cooled to the touch, in about 10 minutes. Crack the shells of the claws, knuckles, and tails, and then remove the meat. You can also leave the claws and knuckles whole, and coarsely chop the larger pieces of meat from the body and tail as described below.

Step 4 – Remove the Meat from the Shell and Chop

Place each tail on its side and use the force of your palm to press down and crack the shell. It’s okay if it doesn’t crack perfectly down the center and comes off in pieces. You can still pry the shell open with your fingers and scoop out the meat.

Horizontal image of removing the cooked meat from seafood shells using scissors.

For a cleaner cut, you can use kitchen shears to snip down the top of the shell, pull or cut it away on the sides, and then remove the meat.

Coarsely chop the meat into big chunks. You want the lobster to look nice and plump, but it should be about bite-size since you want to have some room on your fork for the other salad ingredients too.

Step 5 – Toss with the Dressing

Lay the lettuce leaves down on 4 individual salad plates to create a bed for the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle each bed of lettuce with about 1 tablespoon of the dressing.

Horizontal image of tossing together cooked lobster meat with dressing and prepped fresh vegetables in a white bowl with a blue spatula.

In a large bowl, add about 1/3 of the cucumber and cherry tomatoes, and all of the lobster meat. You can toss all of the cucumber and cherry tomatoes in now if you prefer, but using less gives the seafood in the mix more room to shine.

Pour in all but about 1/4 cup of the remaining dressing and gently fold the ingredients together.

Step 6 – Assemble the Salad and Serve

Making sure the succulent chunks of seafood take center stage, plate the salad in even mounds in the center of each lettuce bed.

Horizontal image of bib lettuce and a cooked seafood mixture on a white plate next to a fork, blue napkin, and glass of beer.

Scatter the remaining cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado around the lobster salad in the middle. Drizzle each plate with the remaining dressing and serve.

Love Me Some Lobster

Although this may look like a fairly light salad, remember that lobster meat is loaded with richness, so a little really does go a long way. I love stretching more expensive ingredients. Don’t you?

Horizontal image of a white plate with bib lettuce and a seafood and vegetable mixture on a blue napkin.If you’re not digging the combo of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, by all means – grab what’s fresh in your garden. Peppery radishes and shaved multi-colored carrots would make lovely substitutes.

Interested in starting a vegetable garden of your own? You can learn more on our sister site, Gardener’s Path.

What gorgeous ingredients will you scatter onto the greens to make this dish your own? Share your bright ideas in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

If all of my rambling rejuvenated your love for lobster and reminded you that you don’t need to be a bazillionaire to cook it on the reg, give these recipes a try 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 April 23, 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.”

6 thoughts on “The Best Lobster Salad”

  1. I’ve never considered having lobster in a salad, but this seems like a nice way to balance out the richness of the lobster meat in a healthy way, especially for those who don’t want a heavy meal. I like that you’ve used a variety of greens, and included some of my favorites, cherry tomatoes and radishes. This will be a nice addition to my Summer recipe collection.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments Diane, the salad greens do seem to stretch out the rich flavors of the lobster and it makes for a great, light summer meal.

      Reply
  2. It looks like a lovely salad, and I’ve added it to my list to try for this summer, if the UK ever gets round to being sunny 🙂 .

    However I don’t have the space (or nerve) to cook live lobsters so I tend to buy them pre-dressed – and I will admit our local fish monger does a lovely prawn mousse in the shells that I think would go really well with your dressing. Does the salad work with pre-cooked and chilled meat, or does it really need to be fresh?

    Reply
  3. Well I happen to live in a place where we do not get lobster all that often, and when we do it is terribly expensive, so we usually do not get to use it in things like salads, but I have to say that this sounds delicious. Like you state, also, works very well for summer entertaining. I think that I am all done when it comes to that, at least for this year, but that does not mean I cannot save this for next year, or sometime during the year. I think it would really come down to getting some cheaper lobster, and for that I will just have to keep my eye out. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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