For a while now, I have been experimenting with smoked lobster tails and I am very happy to report that smoking lobster tails takes them to an entire new level of amazing and I say that as a guy who is very picky about his lobster.
Not only a great way to make any special occasion a little better, these also make for an extra special Christmas meal especially when it’s a small intimate group of friends and/or family.
You can pick these up at reasonable prices if you look around and even the frozen ones are not a bad option if you thaw them out slowly in the fridge.
Those of you who are able to get fresh ones should consider yourselves very fortunate.
Smoked lobster tails might be one of the easiest things you’ll ever do in your smoker and perhaps the most tasty!
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Smoked Lobster Tails
Here in Oklahoma, it’s not quite as easy to get fresh lobsters without paying exorbitant “jacked up” prices and I usually opt for the smaller tails that are frozen. I have discovered that if I thaw them slowly in the fridge and don’t overcook them, they are extremely good.
I have eaten lobster at some very fine restaurants over the years and I can tell you that none of them hold a candle to the smoked lobster tails that I prepare in my smoker using the method I am about to show you.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
- Smoker Temp: 225 degrees F
- Meat Finish Temp: 135-140 F
- Recommended Wood: Apple
About 30 minutes into the cooking process, I recommend putting about a tablespoon of my butter mixture onto the lobster tail meat via a slit in the shell.
Once you mix up the butter mixture, it will need to sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so and get thick before using it. For this reason, I usually make the butter mixture before I prepare the lobsters.
This butter mixture consists of:
- 1/4 lb (1 stick) of butter
- 1 TBS Jeff’s rub
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp ground habanero powder (optional)*
Melt butter in microwave then add lemon juice, rub and, if desired, the optional habanero powder. Mix together well and leave sitting to thicken.
My rub and the butter with the lemon juice compliments really well without masking the natural goodness of the lobster even without the spiciness of the habanero powder.
*Some notes about the habanero powder
Ground habanero powder can be found in specialty spice shops and online at amazon.com. In the absence of habanero you can also use cayenne to taste to add a little zip to the butter mixture.
I use 1/4 tsp of ground habanero for my family but I recommend you begin with a very small pinch. Taste it then continue adding slightly more until you find the sweet spot for you and your family’s taste buds.
Note: You are looking for a subtle heat that doesn’t hit you in the mouth but simply lingers in your throat after you have eaten.
If the lobster tails are frozen, allow them to thaw slowly in the fridge for about 24 hours prior to cooking them. If they still need a little thawing, you can place them in a colander and run cold water over them for a few minutes.
To get the lobster tails ready for smoking you will want to cut a slit in the top of the tail from the front end to where the fin begins.
Lay one of the tails on your cutting board with the fin away from you
Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the segments of the tail.
Use your hands to carefully pull the shell apart so you can get to the meat. This must be done with care so as to not break the shell any more than you have to.
If you do break the shell, make sure to rescue any small pieces that get down into the meat.
Run your fingers between the meat and the shell so as to separate it partially. Leave it attached in the back toward the fin.
Rinse the meat off under cold water to make sure there is no bits of shell.
Lobster tails, like shrimp, have a tendency to curl up when they are cooked. To prevent this you can place a skewer through the meat as shown.
Push the sharp point of the skewer through the center of the meat in the front of the tail and let it exit just below the fin in the rear of the tail.
A properly skewered lobster tail
Lobster tails are ready for smoking
I have done lobster tails in the Bradley 4-rack smoker, the Landmann propane smoker, and the Meadow Creek reverse flow wood burner and they were all very good and took similar amounts of time to cook so I guess you can say they’ve been tested really well in a variety of smokers.
I have no doubt that these smoked lobster tails will come out equally well in almost any smoker as long as you are able to maintain the proper temperature and don’t overcook them.
Set up whatever smoker you have for cooking at about 225 degrees. Use apple wood or a similar fruit wood for best results.
Once your smoker is holding steady at 225 degrees, the lobster tails are ready to go in the smoker.
You can also just place the skewered lobster tails right on the grate of your smoker, slit side up if you do not have the Bradley racks available.
The lobster tails that I had were about 5 oz each and took around 45 minutes to reach a temperature of 135-140 degrees.
I recommend the smaller tails for tenderness and flavor but if you choose to smoke lobster tails that are larger, it will obviously take a little longer.
About 25-30 minutes after you place the lobster tails in the smoker, spread the shell apart a little and put a dollop (about a tablespoon) of the butter mixture onto the meat in the lobster tail.
Since it was made early and allowed to thicken some, it does not run off so quickly and more of the spices stay with the meat.
Just monitor the temperature of the meat and when it reaches 135-140 degrees, the smoked lobster tails are done and should be removed from the smoker right away.
I served the lobster with roasted brussel sprouts tossed in olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Look at that juicy, tender meat!
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