Smoked Lobster Tails

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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.

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!

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.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Smoker Temp: 225 degrees F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 135-140 F
  • Recommended Wood: Apple
What You'll Need
Butter Mixture for the Smoked Lobster Tails

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.

Butter mixture for smoked lobster tails

This butter mixture consists of:

  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) of butter
  • 1 TBS Jeff's original rub
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground habanero powder (optional)*

Melt butter in microwave then add lemon juice, Jeff's rub and, if desired, the optional habanero powder. Mix together well and leave sitting to thicken.

My original 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.  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.

Preparing the Lobster Tails

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.

Thawed lobster tails

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

Lobster tail on cutting board

Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the segments of the tail.

Cut a slit in the lobster tail

Cut a slit in the lobster 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.

Pull the shell apart

Run your fingers between the meat and the shell so as to separate it partially. Leave it attached in the back toward the fin.

Separate meat from shell partially Cleaned lobster tail

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.

Getting ready to skewer the lobster tail Lobster tail skewered

A properly skewered lobster tail

Properly skewered lobster tail

Lobster tails are ready for smoking

Lobster tails skewered Lobster tails on Bradley racks

Getting the Smoker Ready

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°F (107°C) using indirect heat. Use apple wood or a similar fruit wood for best results.

Once your smoker is holding steady, the lobster tails are ready to go in the smoker.

Smoking the Lobster Tails

You can use a pan with a rack to transport these or just place the skewered lobster tails right on the grate of your smoker, slit side up.

The lobster tails that I had were about 5 oz each and took around 45 minutes to reach a temperature of 135°F (57°C).

I recommend the smaller tails for tenderness and flavor but if you choose to smoke lobster tails that are larger, it will 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 with your “Smoke” by Thermoworks or a Thermapen and when it reaches 135°F (57°C) , the smoked lobster tails are done and should be removed from the smoker right away.

Finished smoked lobster tails

Serving the Smoked Lobster Tails

I served the lobster with roasted brussel sprouts tossed in olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Plated smoked lobster tail

Look at that juicy, tender meat!

Juicy, tender, smoked lobster tail


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  1. Made these today they turned out great. The only issue I had was when I made the butter mixture it never got thick for some reason any ideas? Will make these again soon.

  2. Definitely using this on the 14th. I’m gonna smoke hanger steaks though. Figure they’ll be done pretty quick and they’re oh so tender.

    If you’re looking for a deal on lobster tails and you have a friend in the food industry check out Restaurant Depot. Good prices on all meats and seafood. And you don’t have to buy by the case

  3. I love to enhance the flavor of meats by smoking…but why would anyone want to mask the natural flavor of lobster? To each their own I guess…. makes me wonder as to what happens to the rest of the bug?

      1. I will try anything…even smoked bugs…it’s not the cost because I dive for them ($40/year for my permit) and usually get plenty. I’ll give it a whirl on my BGE. Might be better when they have soft shells (to absorb more of the smoked flavor). I will serve the claws & knuckles as appetizers. I will post my Smoked Cod recipe on the blog.

      2. I will try anything…even smoked bugs…it’s not the cost because I dive for them ($40/year for my permit) and usually get plenty. I’ll give it a whirl on my BGE. Might be better when they have soft shells (to absorb more of the smoked flavor). I will serve the claws & knuckles as appetizers. I will post my New England Smoked Cod recipe on the blog.

        1. I love the idea of house smoked cod. So many of the commercially available ones are “tainted” [literally] with dyes to enhance their attractiveness to consumers, while not offering any of the rich flavours that original techniques can. Traditional preservation methods make for some surprisingly fresh approaches to prepare fish.
          Smoked fish is one of those things my girlfriend loves. Orcadians [she is from the Orkney Islands] embrace and offer a school of such smoked fish recipes, so I thank you very much, and look forward to your recipe!!

  4. Smoked lobster tails were great. Just took a lot longer than the recipe indicated. It was a cold day here so that probably factored. Worth the wait. Cooked in a Lang 36 inch hybrid with maple wood. 

  5. Fantastic smoked lobster tails, Jeff! My guests and I were really enjoyed how your rub enhanced and complimented the flavor of the tails, but didn't overpower it! Thanks for doing all the hard work that made me look so goooood!