Sous Vide Lobster Tail
Follow this foolproof sous vide lobster tail cooking guide to making scrumptious lobster with garlic-infused butter all in one bag!
If you don’t live by the coast where you can have them for lunch every day, my guess is that you probably don’t cook lobsters at home very often. However, when you do, I want to make sure you have this foolproof way of making the perfect lobster tails every single time without fail.
These sous vide lobster tails, slow-cooked in garlic-infused butter along with their own juice, are heavenly scrumptious. Just three ingredients, no butter sauce needed, no searing required—it’s all in one bag!
I am confident that once you’ve learned how to cook lobster tail sous vide you will make it more often than before. Let’s dive in.
- What Are the Benefits of Sous Vide Lobster Tail?
- At What Temperature Do You Sous Vide Lobster Tail?
- How Long Does It Take to Sous Vide Lobster Tails?
- Time and Temperature Chart for Sous Vide Lobster Tail
- Essential Ingredients
- Essential Equipment
- How to Sous Vide Lobster Tail Step by Step
- What to Serve with Sous Vide Lobster Tail
- Make-Ahead and Storage Tips
- Sous Vide Lobster Tail Recipe
- About the Author
What Are the Benefits of Sous Vide Lobster Tail?
Traditionally, the most common ways to cook lobster tails are to boil them in sea/salted water, steam them, or even roast them. The result varies depending on how much practice you have had with cooking them because overcooking a lobster tail is quite normal with these traditional cooking methods. The benefits of cooking this delicacy sous vide don’t just end with “You’ll never overcook lobster tails ever again!” because it’s foolproof, although that is absolutely true.
Also, consider the following:
- Flavorwise, it’s buttery, and that natural sweetness of lobster puffs right in front of your face the moment you open the bag. After all, you’ve got butter bathing the lobster meat while cooking it, my friend. On top of that, you have the opportunity to infuse the flavor even more with fresh herbs like tarragon, parsley, or dill.
- Texturewise, the traditional firm texture is not the only choice anymore. You have the option to make more tender lobster tails, even at different levels. You’ll just have to try sous vide lobster tails at different temperatures to find out what you like the best.
None of the above is possible with traditional cooking methods. In my humble opinion, the sous vide cooking method is the best way to cook lobster tails.
At What Temperature Do You Sous Vide Lobster Tail?
Now, let’s talk about the different levels of tenderness you can create by cooking lobster tail sous vide.
- 120°F (49°C): soft and translucent, like sashimi.
- 130°F (54°C): tender, meaty, slightly translucent.
- 135°F (57°C): tender, meaty, slightly firm (Just the way I like it!)
- 140°F (60°C): tender, slightly firmer, similar to steamed lobster tails.
- 150°F (66°C): firm like the traditional texture.
How Long Does It Take to Sous Vide Lobster Tails?
If you’ve parboiled your lobster tails, it takes about 20 minutes for a 5-6-ounce tail to cook through in the sous vide bath. You can certainly cook them longer.
I’ve found that the best cook time for sous vide lobster tails is 45 minutes to 1 hour. Please note that lobster meat is extremely delicate. It will get mushy if you cook it too long.
Time and Temperature Chart for Sous Vide Lobster Tail
Let me arrange the time and temperature together with serving suggestions here.
|How to Serve
|Soft and translucent, sashimi-like
|45 mins – 1 hour
|Cold in a salad. Lobster ceviche, anyone?
|Succulent, meaty, slightly translucent
|45 mins – 1 hour
|Serve warm with butter sauce or cold in a roll
|Tender, meaty, slightly firm
|45 mins – 1 hour
|Serve warm with butter sauce or cold in a roll
|Tender, slightly firmer, similar to steamed lobster
|45 mins – 1 hour
|Serve warm with butter sauce
|Firm like the traditional texture
|45 mins – 1 hour
|Serve warm with butter sauce
To cook lobster tail sous vide, you can get by with as few as two ingredients—salted butter and lobster tails. For more aroma, I like to infuse my butter with fresh garlic before adding it to the sous vide bag. That makes the three main ingredients for this sous vide lobster tail cooking guide.
First and foremost, lobster tails!
Cold-Water Lobsters vs Warm-Water Lobsters
Cold-water and warm-water lobsters are the two main types. Here are the main differences to consider when buying lobster.
- Regions: Cold-water lobsters typically come from the eastern coast of the United States and Canada and the western coast of Europe. Warm-water lobsters come from waters with warmer climates, like the coast of Florida, California, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific region.
- Looks: Cold-water lobsters have large claws, with one bigger than the other. The full-size cold-water lobsters are larger than warm-water lobsters, which don’t have claws. The latter has a more colorful appearance than the former, which is usually dark greenish-brown.
- Flavor and texture: The quality of meat from a cold-water lobster is generally better than those that live in warmer waters. It’s firmer, it tends to stay together when you cook it, and it’s more tender. Warm-water lobsters are harvested for their tails, which are the only edible parts. You’ll often see their tails cut and frozen in grocery stores. Therefore, the meat sometimes is mushy. Cold-water lobster also offers a hint of sweetness, whereas warm-water lobster has a stronger seafood taste to it.
- Price: For the reasons above, cold-water lobsters have a higher price tag than warm-water lobsters.
Don’t stress too much over which type of lobsters you should buy. Like most things in life, the best kind is what suits you the best. In terms of the best lobsters, it comes down to your preference for flavor, texture, and price.
The next essential ingredient is butter! You just can’t cook and eat a lobster tail without butter. You can use either salted or unsalted butter, in which case you’ll need to add some salt.
For three reasons, I’d highly recommend you infuse your butter with fresh garlic before adding it to the sous vide bag that contains the lobster tail meat.
- It simply brings the taste to the next level. The butter is not only soaking into your lobster tails (really, take a moment to think about that), the aroma from the garlic is bathing the meat throughout.
- Many recipes out there instruct you to cook lobster tail sous vide in butter. On top of that, you make a butter sauce (with more butter) for dipping. I find that really unnecessary.
- By doing this simple step, while your lobster tails cook, you are simultaneously making an ultra-flavorful butter sauce in the same bag. No extra work, no extra time, and no extra butter are required.
Although you could alternatively add raw garlic into the sous vide bag, it won’t release the aroma fully due to the lower temperature and relatively short cook time. Or you could add garlic when making a butter sauce, as many others suggest.
I love having little bits of fully cooked garlic in each bite of lobster meat. (OMG, it’s so good!)
Therefore, garlic-infused butter is the way to go!
Fresh Lemon & Fresh Herbs
These are not essential for cooking lobster tails but would be necessary for serving. However, I do suggest adding some lemon slices and fresh herbs of your choice (tarragon, parsley, or dill) into the cooking bag for more flavor.
- A pair of kitchen shears. To remove the lobster meat from its shell, a good pair of scissors is essential. The pair that you see in the images and video of the recipe is the Wüsthof Come-Apart Kitchen Shears, and I highly recommend them.
- A sous vide immersion circulator. I used an Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker for this recipe. I also own a KitchenBoss G320 Sous Vide Cooker. You might have seen it in some of my sous vide recipes. To learn more about this particular product and see if it’s right for you, read my in-depth review here.
- A large pot or a sous vide container. This 12-quart container is compatible with most sous vide machines on the market. I personally use an Anova Sous Vide Cooking Container which holds up 16L of water with a removable lid and rack.
- A large Ziploc bag. For sous vide lobster tail, you do not need a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal bags. I did still vacuum seal my lobster tails before sous vide cooking, as you can see in the visual explanations in this article, but if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, like most of the sous vide recipes, you can always submerge a Ziploc bag in the sous vide water bath via the water displacement method.
How to Sous Vide Lobster Tail Step by Step
Now that you’ve got all the information you need to sous vide lobster tails, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get to work!
Before You Cook: Remove Lobster Meat from the Shells
Why do I have to remove the meat from the shells first? you ask.
The primary reason is that those sharp edges on the lobster shells could easily poke holes in your cooking bag, causing the water to seep inside. That’s the last thing you want when cooking lobster tails sous vide.
The second reason is that without the shells, your lobster meat gets to fully engage with the butter and other fresh aromatics you decide to put in the bag during the cooking process.
To eliminate the potential risk of a broken bag entirely and to enrich the flavor of your lobster dish, I’d recommend watching the video and following the simple steps below to remove the lobster meat from the shells. It’s easier than you think.
Note: I’ve never killed a live lobster in my life before, and it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, so we are working with frozen lobster tails here.
- Remove the lobster tails from their original packaging and thaw in the refrigerator or soak them in cold water. (You should plan to cook and eat your lobster within 24 hours of thawing.)
- Hold a lobster tail with your non-dominant hand, hard shell side down on your palm. Use kitchen shears with your dominant hand to carefully cut the top of the underside shell down the middle.
- Cut down on each side of the underside, where the soft part of the shell meets the hard part. Peel off the underside of the tail.
- Use both your hands to hold the sides of the shell and give it a push towards the outside. You might hear the hard shell crack a little. Wiggle your thumb between the inside of the hard shell and the meat, or slide a spoon under the shell. Carefully separate the meat from the shell from the top to the bottom and remove the meat gently in one piece. Do the same for the rest of the tails.
Bag and Cook Lobster Tails Sous Vide
- Make the garlic-infused butter: Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a small skillet or saucepan. Add fresh garlic slices from three garlic cloves and stir to spread them out evenly. Turn the heat to low and let it cook for 5 minutes or until fragrant and the garlic is slightly brown. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Prepare the sous vide: Preheat water using a sous vide machine to your desired temperature. I prefer 135°F (57°C).
- Bag and sous vide the lobster: Prepare a vacuum sealer bag or a Ziploc bag. Place the lobster tail meat in the bag in a single layer. Add the garlic-infused butter along with the garlic slices to the bag and two more tablespoons of butter. Place a few lemon slices on the undertail side and a sprig of dill or tarragon if desired. Seal the bag with a vacuum sealer or use the water displacement method if using a Ziploc bag. Submerge the bag in the preheated sous vide water bath and set the timer for 45 minutes.
There’s no additional searing required for sous vide shellfish. After your lobster is out of the sous vide bath, just open the bag and serve. That’s your finished, totally amazing lobster tail dish right there!
What to Serve with Sous Vide Lobster Tail
The most classic way to serve sous vide lobster tails is on their own with the all-in-one-bag butter sauce and a generous squeeze of lemon. The sauce is so good that you might want to dip some baguette slices to soak it all up.
Here are some ideas to serve as a main course.
- Lobster Rolls. You can’t go wrong with stuffing the perfectly cooked lobster tails in hotdog buns. Don’t forget the mayonnaise or better yet, garlic lemon aioli.
- Seafood Risotto. Creamy risotto with lobster and other seafood makes a fantastic comfort meal. I’d boil the shells to make a stock for this one.
- Lobster Salad. The lobster is going to shine a light on this seafood quinoa salad, or simply serve it with a large handful of spring mix for a low-carb lunch.
- Surf and Turf. This one is really fancy and easy to do with sous vide. You can cook the steak and lobster together in the same sous vide bath. Just place the prepared steak 15 minutes before you drop the lobster in. Or cook them both for an hour.
As for side dishes to pair with the lobster, I’d recommend the following.
- Massaged Kale Salad tossed with pine nuts and dried cranberries
- Kale Quinoa Salad with Oregano Lemon Vinaigrette
- Garlic Pull-Apart Bread
- Healthy Vegetable Slaw
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips
You can certainly prepare this ahead of time. Here are some tips on keeping your pre-cooked lobster tails fresh and how to reheat them.
- If not serving your lobster tails right away, rapidly chill the lobster by transferring the bag into an ice bath immediately after cooking for about 10 minutes.
- Once the lobster is fully chilled, store it in its original bag in the fridge. If you used a vacuum sealer and a vacuum sealer bag, your lobster can last in the fridge for up to five days or even longer. If you used a Ziploc bag, it’s best to consume the lobster within two or three days.
- The best way to reheat sous vide lobster tails is to put them back into a sous vide bath at 120°F (49°C) for about 20 minutes until the solidified butter sauce is melted and the lobster meat is heated through.
Follow this foolproof sous vide lobster tail cooking guide to make scrumptious lobster with garlic-infused butter all in one bag!
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 lobster tails (about 5–6 ounces each)
- 3–4 lemon slices and fresh herbs (optional)
For Garnish and Serving:
- Chopped fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, parsley, chives
- Lemon wedges
- Sliced baguette
- Make garlic-infused butter: Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a small skillet or saucepan. Add garlic to the melted butter and stir to spread the slices out evenly. Turn the heat to low and let it cook for 5 minutes or until fragrant and the garlic is slightly brown. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Prepare the sous vide: Preheat water to 135°F (57°C).
- Remove lobster meat from the shells: Hold a lobster tail with your non-dominant hand, hard shell side down on your palm. Use kitchen shears with your dominant hand to cut down the middle of the underside of the lobster tail. Cut down on each side of the underside, where the soft part of the shell meets the hard part. Peel off the underside of the tail. Use both your hands to hold the sides of the shell and give it a push towards the outside. You might hear the hard shell crack a little. Wiggle your thumb between the inside of the hard shell and the meat. Carefully separate the meat from the shell from the top to the bottom and remove the meat gently in one piece. Do the same for the rest of the tails.
- Sous vide the lobster: Prepare a vacuum sealer bag or a Ziploc bag. Place the lobster tail meat in the bag in a single layer. Add the garlic-infused butter along with the garlic slices to the bag as well as the remaining butter. Place lemon slices on the undertail side and a sprig of dill or tarragon if desired. Seal the bag with a vacuum sealer or use the water displacement method if using a Ziploc bag. Submerge the bag in the preheated sous vide water bath and set the timer for 45 minutes.
- Serve: Once the timer is off. Remove the bag from the water bath. Transfer the lobster tail meat into two shallow soup bowls with that heavenly buttery lobster juice! Garnish with mixed chopped herbs of your choice. Give it a fresh squeeze of lemon juice. Serve baguette slices on the side. Bon appétit!
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 463
- Sugar: 0.1g
- Sodium: 1560.4mg
- Fat: 25.5g
- Saturated Fat: 15.2g
- Trans Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 1.6g
- Fiber: 0.1g
- Protein: 54.4g
- Cholesterol: 474.7mg
Keywords: Sous Vide Lobster Tail
About the Author
Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, an author and a sous vide fanatic who believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she's on a mission to help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.