Sweet, scrumptious lobster meat, tossed in a cold, creamy, tangy, mayonnaise mix, and served in a buttery, toasted New England hot dog bun! With plenty of options on side dishes and drinks that pair well with this Maine lobster roll recipe.
All you need to know about making and serving the ULTIMATE Maine Lobster Rolls!
Now that I’ve covered in detail how to make soft, delicious New England hot dog buns, and all the ways to cook lobster perfectly, today’s post is the highlight of my lobstah series – the glorious Maine Lobster Roll!
My first experience eating lobster roll was in the upper Midwest; Milwaukee, Wisconsin to be precise, and it was love at first bite. Lobster tossed in mayonnaise, with celery and onions, tightly packed into a buttery, top split bun with a side of coleslaw and French fries. Absolute buttery scrumptiousness, and I knew I was hooked.
Then last year, we visited Maine in early summer, and we had two goals;
- Eat as much lobster as we can. From the Portland harbor to Bar Harbor, sampling delicious lobster rolls at several places along the Maine coastline, sitting seaside, with the smell of the ocean clinging to your body like the mayonnaise on lobster meat, it was an experience that I will fondly remember for a long time!
- Visit Bangor to do a Stephen King tour. My husband is a huge SK fan, and there’s no way we were going to visit Maine and not stop by SK’s neighborhood in Bangor.
And on both counts, we succeeded. So here we are! 🙂
What is a lobster roll?
An epic sandwich native to the New England region, where chunks of tender, sweet, cooked lobster meat are piled onto a soft, delicious top split bun, that’s typically toasted in butter.
It’s summer in a hot dog bun.
So what is a classic lobster roll, you ask? Well, that depends on who you ask. There are two distinct types of lobster rolls that hail from New England – Maine lobster roll and Connecticut lobster roll.
Maine lobster roll
A Maine lobster roll is when the lobster meat is typically served cold, tossed in mayonnaise with a little salt and lemon, in a buttery, lightly toasted top split New England hot dog bun. It is what Connecticut lobster roll aficionados would call a lobster salad roll.
But I’ve tasted lobster rolls with a few other additions like celery, spring onions or shallots, flavored salt, garlic, and other spices and flavors too. I’ve even tasted a curry version where curry powder was mixed in with the mayonnaise, which I know may elicit a gasp or two from all the Maine lobster roll purists out there! I also like to add cajun spices for a creole inspired spicy lobster roll sometimes.
Personally, I like mine with coleslaw, celery salt and spring onions (or shallots).
Connecticut lobster roll
Toasted and buttery New England hot dog buns stuffed with cooked lobster that’s typically served warm, with salt and pepper, and a warm drizzle of melted, clarified butter on top. No mayo. Coleslaw or lettuce may occasionally make an appearance as well.
Here, I’m sharing with you my favorite version of a Maine lobster roll recipe! I love the creaminess of mayonnaise and the crunch and subtle taste of celery, while I also love the generous buttery flavor of Connecticut lobster rolls.
So for this lobster roll recipe, I personally like to poach the lobster in butter (which is completely optional), or toss cooked lobster in a little melted butter, then toss it in a light mayonnaise, celery salt and spring onion mix, before serving them in buttery, toasted, homemade New England hot dog buns.
How to cook lobster for this lobster roll recipe
There are several ways in which you can cook lobster for these lobster rolls. The easiest is to boil or steam. You can find full instructions on how to cook lobster for lobster rolls in my post here. I prefer steaming lobster, because it makes the meat taste sweeter and less diluted.
Lobster shell has all the mineral flavors of sea water, and boiling it can dilute this flavor out in water. So if you can, always steam the lobster meat so that the flavors will retain better and infuse the meat better. This is the classic way of preparing lobster meat for this lobster roll recipe.
If you’d like to take it a step further in to flavor-town, you can POACH the lobster meat in butter, or grill it to add a nice, smokey, char flavor. These methods aren’t classic, but they do add another fantastic layer of flavor.
Usually lobster rolls are made with 1.25 – 1.5 lb lobsters, and a good lobster roll usually includes meat from 1 whole lobster, which can weigh about 4 – 5 oz. Which means, each lobster roll should have at least 4 oz of lobster meat.
Typically it’s a mix of claw, knuckle and tail meat, but some premium lobster rolls may only include claw meat. Claw and knuckle meat are usually more succulent and flavorful than tail meat.
How can I buy already cooked lobster meat?
If you don’t live in the coast or in an area where lobster isn’t readily available, or don’t want to cook the lobster yourself, you do have the option of purchasing perfectly cooked lobster meat from an online vendor. I’ve purchased 1 lb cooked lobster meat from Maine Lobster Now, and it’s great! You have the option of buying whole lobster meat, or just claw meat, or tail meat.
But if you’re like me, and would love to cook the meat yourself for this Maine lobster roll recipe, I recommend reading this detailed post, where I cover everything from how to choose fresh lobster (or where to order lobster online), to how to cook lobster (boiling, steaming, grilling, poaching), to how to remove lobster meat from the shell.
Here’s a quick summary of that guide.
How to choose lobster
Choose live, active lobsters with long antennae. Lobster meat turns mushy when they die, so fresh, active lobsters are a must.
How to cook lobster
Know what type of lobster you’re getting (soft shell or hard shell), and how much each lobster weighs.
Steam the lobster for quick cooking and better flavor, or boil lobster for more even cooking. Cook the lobster for the right amount of time, following the guide below.
When the lobster shell turns bright red, then you know the lobster is cooked through. Next, carefully remove all the meat from the shell.
How to get the lobster meat out of the shell
You can read the detailed tutorial that I’ve shared here, which explains how to remove all of the lobster meat from a whole lobster, step by step. This includes how to get the claw meat out in one piece as well.
A lobster cracker or a heavy knife will make the job that much easier. You don’t have to get all the claw meat and tail meat in one piece, because you will be chopping the lobster meat into big chunks for this Maine lobster roll recipe. You do have the option of keeping the claw meat whole for presentation purposes, but again it’s not necessary.
How to make lobster rolls
Mix all the ingredients that you’ll be using with the mayonnaise. You can go the Maine lobster roll purist route and only add mayo, lemon juice and salt with the lobster meat. Or use any of the following options to adapt the flavor to your liking.
- Mayonnaise (essential)
- Lemon juice (essential)
- Salt (essential)
- Or celery salt, instead of salt and celery
- Green onions or shallots
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
Chop any onions or celery very finely, and mix with the mayo and other ingredients. I personally prefer a mix of mayo, celery salt, green onions and lemon juice.
Toss the lobster meat with the mayonnaise mix and let it chill until you’re ready to make the Maine lobster rolls.
I like to use lettuce to line the New England hot dog buns when I make these lobster rolls, mostly because it prevents the buns from getting soggy from the filling. That’s optional too.
What can I use for lobster roll buns?
Traditionally, lobster rolls are made with New England hot dog buns that have uniquely soft sides (that can be lightly toasted in butter) and split on top instead of on the sides. Here in mid Missouri, there’s no where to find these hot dog buns, but you can make them easily using my recipe here.
You do need a special pan to make these buns though. If you don’t have it, you can go ahead and use regular hot dog buns too. Here’s my recipe for regular hot dog buns, in case you’d like to make them at home.
What to serve with lobster rolls
There are a number of side dishes that pair really well with this Maine lobster roll recipe.
I personally prefer to go with lighter side dishes, so that the flavor of the lobster roll remains the main attraction.
- Coleslaw or kale-slaw
- Leafy salads with a light vinaigrette
- Steamed vegetables tossed in butter – like beans, asparagus, broccoli
- A cherry tomato salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette or any light vinaigrette
And of course,
- Potato chips and/or
- French fries
But if you’d like to serve the lobster rolls with a richer side dish, here are some options for that too.
- Baked beans
- Macaroni and cheese
- Rice pilaf – made with wild rice or regular rice with lots of herbs. A great side dish for lobster rolls.
- Baked potatoes – topped with butter, sour cream and a little cheese and herbs.
What drinks pair well with lobster rolls
Usually I go for a white wine drink, or a white wine sangria. Here are some other great options.
Chardonnay – A good chardonnay with buttery and fruity notes.
Sauvignon blanc – A dry, fruity sauvignon blanc is great with lobster. Another option is an EFFERVESCENT white wine, that’s dry and fruity. Please note that effervescent white wine is NOT the same as sparkling white wine. However, sparkling wines are also a great option – specifically, champagne. Although I feel like my fancy pants would be getting a little too tight if I went pairing champagne with lobster rolls.
Lemonade – lemonade is the perfect big batch drink that’s easy and everyone loves (especially in the summer).
Cocktails – any cocktail with a nice citrusy kick is great! Here are some options,
- Mai Tai
- Old fashioned
Pretty much any classic cocktail pairs well with these Maine lobster rolls – especially if it’s a refreshing cocktail with some sourness. You could even make a mocktail version for kids.
Beer – This article here has plenty of information. Check it out to find out about all the beer options that pair well with Maine lobster rolls. Or you could even ask your local beer and wine store for recommendations too, they might be able to give you some nice local craft beer suggestions.
So there you go my friends! Everything you need to know about making and serving the ULTIMATE Maine lobster roll! 🙂 The lobster meat filling can be made one day ahead, so you can prep the buns and the filling ahead of time to make it easier as well.
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Maine Lobster Rolls
Lobster salad for lobster rolls
- 3 - 4 1.5 lb lobster, cooked or 1 lb cooked lobster meat (about 4 oz per person)
- 4 tbsp melted butter optional
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ tsp celery salt
- 4 small spring onions chopped finely
- Lemon juice to taste
- Black pepper optional
Mayonnaise (makes about 1 ¼ cup)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 2 tsp mustard spicy brown, or dijon or whole grain
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup neutral flavored oil or olive oil
- 4 new england hot dog buns
- Butter to butter and toast the sides of the hot dog buns
- Hydroponic lettuce leaves butter lettuce or any kind of lettuce leaves
- Extra lemon wedges
- Potato chips or French fries to serve
- Chopped spring onions and chives
- Chop the lobster meat into big chunks. You can leave the claw meat whole if you prefer as well. Toss the lobster in the melted butter (optional). Set aside.
- Finely chop the spring onions and put it in a bowl. Add about ⅓ cup of mayonnaise, a generous pinch of celery salt, and black pepper. Mix well.
- Add the butter coated lobster into the mayonnaise mix and add lemon juice to taste.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- You will need a stick blender and a tall container that just fits the stick blender. Do not use a bowl, or a large container for this recipe.
- Crack the egg into the container, followed by a pinch of salt, mustard, lemon juice and vinegar.
- After these ingredients are placed in the container, slowly pour in the oil into the container - along the wall, so that the egg remains at the bottom.
- Place the stick blender in the container, with the egg yolk underneath the stick blender blades.
- Without moving the stick blender, start blending and hold it in place for about 10 - 15 seconds. You will start to see the egg and oil at the bottom of the container turn white. Next, move the stick blender up and down to mix the rest of oil and to make a thick mayonnaise - another 15 to 30 seconds more. It should be smooth, thick and spreadable. If it’s too lumpy, mix in a little water. Taste the mayonnaise and add more lemon juice or salt if needed.
- Place the mayonnaise a glass jar with a tight lid and store in the fridge, for up to 5 days.
Serving Lobster rolls
- You can buy New England lobster roll buns, or make them at home using this recipe.
- Spread butter on both sides of the lobster roll buns. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Toast both sides - about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Set aside.
- When the toasted buns are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to split the buns on top.
- Line each bun with lettuce leaves. Fill each bun with 1/4 of the lobster filling. Sprinkle extra chopped spring onions or chives on top.
- Serve with lemon wedges, chips or fries. If you prefer, you can choose to serve with other side dishes and drinks as described in the post.