What happens when lobster tails go on sale for five dollars a pop? You buy them. All of them. And then you make this Lobster Scampi with Linguine. This easy pasta is packed sweet, succulent lobster, a garlicky butter sauce, and silky noodles of Linguine. Plus we’re talking about Spiny lobster vs Maine lobster and how to cook lobster tails on the stove.
Lobster Scampi with Linguine
If you thought cooking lobster tails was difficult, think again! This Easy Lobster Scampi recipe is SO easy, and so delicious. I promise you won’t break a sweat making it, and you’ll be LICKING your plate clean when you’re finished.
This is exactly the same as shrimp scampi, but better, because it’s LOBSTER. Sweet, succulent lobster.
A year ago, I didn’t like lobster.
I didn’t despise it or anything, it was just always consistently alright, and wasn’t something I got excited about.. I had ordered it at various restaurants and prepared it at home on a handful of occasions, but each time it was exceedingly underwhelming. It was either rubbery and over-cooked or worse, gummy and a weird off-putting color.
I had all but categorized myself as purely a shrimp and crab crustacean lover until I took a local cabbie’s advice when Kev and I were in Santorini around this time last year and ordered the most life-changing lobster spaghetti at a little seaside restaurant in Ammoudi Bay.
At first I thought my newfound lobster love was due to the fact that I was in one of the best spots in the world for spiny lobster or maybe because I’d never had a spiny lobster before, only a Maine lobster, but was holding on to the hope it was just due to poor preparation. It was. Today we’re going to talk about how I figured out the best way to prepare lobster so it’s perfect EVERY SINGLE TIME. And obviously, this Easy Lobster Scampi is a part of that.
Spiny lobster vs Maine lobster
Most people are familiar with Maine lobster, because it’s what’ primarily found in the US, and is of course, caught on the east coast, near Maine. The meat comes in three parts – the tail, body and claws. Their meat is sweet, firm, and when cooked perfectly, irresistibly delicious. Since it’s more readily available in the US, it’s typically a little bit more affordable (although still a special occasion crustacean) than spiny lobster.
Spiny lobster, on the other hand only has tail meat because it has no claws. It’s also commonly called rock lobster here in the US, and sourced from warm waters, which is said to give the meat a little less sweetness than the Main lobster – I disagree. I find that spiny lobster is a little bit sweeter and softer than Maine lobster, and if I HAD to choose, would be my personal favorite.
However, both are equally delicious and would work wonderfully in this recipe.
How to prepare lobster tails
I have a method when it comes to cooking lobster tail, instead of cooking it whole which I believe leads uneven cooking, I take kitchen shears and cut lengthwise down the center so the tail is in two separate, even pieces with all of the flesh exposed. This is how I prep my lobster tails almost every single time, and it could not be easier since there’s basically nothing you need to do.
- Get a really good pair of kitchen shears.
- Starting at the very end of the tail, cut a slit all the way up to where the flesh is.
- Use the shears and cut the upper part of the tail down the middle, lengthwise. Do the same to the bottom part of the shell.
- Use a very sharp knife to swiftly cut the shell and the meat all the way through.
- Now you’re ready to cook!
How to cook lobster on the stove
- Season the flesh of the tails with salt and pepper and throw into a pre-heated pan (about a medium to medium-high heat) shell side down in either butter or olive oil.
- As the shells starts to turn a bright red color, some of the fat over the flesh of the lobster.
- Once it cooks for a few minutes, flip it over so the flesh side is down and let it cook until the entire shell is bright red and the flesh has turned white. It’s SO important to remove the tails from the hot pan immediately, because they quickly overcook if left to sit in a hot pan.
How to make Lobster Scampi
- Start with a base of butter and garlic (10 large cloves to be exact) and cook the lobster as aforementioned and removed it immediately when both the shell turned bright red and the flesh was firm to the touch and white.
- Remove the meat from the shell, chop into (large) bite-sized pieces and then set it aside.
- Add more butter to the pan, a good amount of lemon juice, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and plenty of salt.
- Transfer hot linguine to the same pan and toss in the butter garlic mixture.
- As always keep the starchy cooking liquid and use it to loosen up the sauce.
- Season the pasta to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add in the lobster, lots of freshly chopped parsley, and a bit of lemon zest
- Serve with crispy grilled ciabatta bread (this recipe would go perfectly).
Can Easy Lobster Scampi be made ahead of time?
No no no. This unfortunately does not reheat well. You really want to serve it fresh. If you HAVE to, you can make everything a few hours ahead of time. Cook the noodles under aldente and just leave the lobster out. Save even more pasta water, and when you want to serve, gently heat everything up and add more pasta water as needed. Add in the lobster just before serving.
Can you use a different kind of pasta?
Of course, but I really prefer a long noodle. I prefer linguine, but spaghetti or fettuccine will also work.
Can I use shrimp instead of lobster?
Sure! But keep in mind shrimp cook waaaay faster than lobster.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Be sure to season your cooking liquid with lots of salt. It should taste as salty as the sea. It’s really important for the water to be flavored, because it’s an essential ingredient in the sauce.
- Season the flesh of the lobster really well as well. In a dish as simple as this, seasoning is key!
- Don’t add the lobster until the very end. It can overcook and turn rubbery in an instant!
- For extra spice, add in a few pinches of crushed red pepper flake.
- Spiny or maine lobster tail works great!
If you LOVE lobster, you’ll also love these Green Goddess Lobster Sandwiches that are packed with sweet lobster lobster chunks bathed in an easy Green Goddess dressing. They’re served with crispy bacon on hearty whole-grain bread, and I couldn’t love them more. We are also absolutely OBSESSED with these Tarragon and Lemon Lobster Rolls. These are probably the best lobster rolls you’ll ever have – they’re packed with lobster that’s tossed in a super light mayo and lemon-based sauce. They’re nestled into garlic bread buns and guys, they are SO good.
- 3/4 lb linguine
- 4 5 oz lobster tails
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 10 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
- Large skillet
- stock pot
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season liberally with salt. It should taste as salty as the sea.
- Get a really good pair of kitchen shears.Starting at the very end of the tail, cut a slit all the way up to where the flesh is.Use the shears and cut the upper part of the tail down the middle, lengthwise. Do the same to the bottom part of the shell.Use a very sharp knife to swiftly cut the shell and the meat all the way through.
- Season lobster tails with salt and pepper. Heat a large saute pan to a medium heat. Add 4 tablespoon butter. Once butter melts, add lobster tails, shell-side down and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they start to turn red, spoon the melted butter and garlic on top. Flip so they are flesh-side down and cook another 1-2 minutes until the shell is bright red and the flesh is white. DO NOT OVERCOOK! The lobster will cook a touch more when you toss it in the pasta. Remove the lobster tails from the stove, making sure to get almost all the garlic off and let cool slightly. Once they're easy enough to handle, pull them out of the shells and chop into large bite-sized pieces.
- When you start to make the sauce, cook the pasta. Cook pasta until just under aldente. Reserve cooking liquid.
- Add remaining butter to the pan along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add linguine, remaining salt, and olive oil. If needed, add enough starchy cooking water to loosen the sauce up. Season to tastew with salt and pepper.
- Add parlsey and lobster. Toss until lobster has warmed up.
- Garnish with parsley.