How to Make Perfect Lobster Rolls

Yes, I know, my post title may sound a little exuberant and subjective. But seriously, I’m still recovering from the deliciousness of the lobster rolls we had for dinner last night. They were so good I have to restrain myself from planning to make more tonight, and tomorrow, and for the rest of the week!

A beautifully cooked 2-lb lobster.

For our vacation this summer, E and I are planning a road trip through New England and along the coast. When I was growing up, the beaches of Maine and Massachusetts were classic summer destinations and (although I probably bugged my parents all through the drive over: “are we there yet?”) I truly loved the trips, playing with my brother, discovering new scenery, crossing over the border and hearing people speak English, all of a sudden. Although I’ve driven several times to Boston, it’s been years since I’ve taken such a road trip to the Atlantic coast. Lately I’ve been having this romantic dream of enjoying the most delicious of all the lobster rolls on earth, bought from a vendor by the ocean, eyes closed, the sounds of the waves rocking me to a blissful state… Alright I’m losing my head again, but that’s the power of a good lobster roll isn’t it?

E did the hard work and shelled the lobster so I could make delicious sandwiches with the delicate meat.

Lobster smells incredibly good to a curious kitty!
Lobster smells incredibly good to a curious kitty!

Although, to be honest, the lobster roll is a sandwich that’s had its share of bad press over the years. Too much mayo, poor quality mayo, too little lobster, not enough flavoring… I’m sure it’s very easy to have a bad lobster roll. The good thing about making it yourself is that you have total control and can make it exactly as you want it to be.

A couple of weeks ago, I bookmarked Melissa Clark’s article “Redeeming the Lobster Roll”, from the first Gilt Taste newsletter. The idea of making my own lobster rolls had been running through my head ever since. Lobster is E’s absolute favorite seafood and I figured the dish would help us count the days until we would enjoy it by the ocean in New England. Clark’s recipe appealed to me due to its simplicity, but also because of its bright, citrusy mayo that I was convinced would elevate the dish to a new standard. I mean, is there a better match than lobster and lemon?

Very appetizing lobster meat.

All I can say is that the dish delivered bags of flavor. The mayo is a snap to make, and the sandwich is lightning quick to assemble. The great thing is that you can elevate the dish by steaming your own lobsters, or make it on a week night by buying ready-to-eat lobster meat from your favorite fishmonger. The only bad thing about it, I’m afraid, is that it has set the bar very high and I don’t know if I’ll ever have a better lobster roll, even on the New England coast. I’ll have to go and find out!

The Best Lobster Rolls Ever (yes, really!)

P.S. I’m looking for advice and recommendations to plan our coastal road trip! Our itinerary is not set yet. We are thinking of driving down to Rhode Island through Providence, then drive up the coast towards Cape Cod, but we’re still open to all ideas! If you have tips to share, I will happily read you in the comments below, or you can send me a line. Thanks a lot!

Crazy-Good Lobster Rolls

Recipe adapted from Melissa Clark, Gilt Taste.

Crazy-Good Lobster Rolls

Serves 2 (makes 2 or 3 sandwiches, depending on how full you like ’em!)

For the Mayonnaise:
1 large organic egg yolk, room temperature
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
½ cup canola or grapeseed oil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch cayenne pepper

For the Lobster Rolls:
1 (1½ to 2-pound) cooked lobster (see Resources below for instructions)
2 small tender, inner celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped, leaves reserved for serving
2 or 3 hot dog rolls, split
2-3 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
1 green onion (scallion), sliced, plus more for serving
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Espelette pepper, for serving (optional)

Make the mayonnaise: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oils until completely incorporated. Whisk in the lemon and orange zests and cayenne. Season with more lemon juice and salt if needed.

Remove the lobster meat from shells (see Resources below for instructions) and dice into bite-sized chunks. You should have between 1 and 1½ cups of lobster meat.  Add the chopped celery stalks to a bowl with the lobster and fold in 3 to 4 tablespoons mayo, depending upon how you like your lobster rolls (I prefer to add a small quantity and serve the rest of the mayo in a small bowl to let everyone add more if they so wish). Taste and season with more salt and lemon if needed. It should taste lemony.

Preheat a grill pan (or the barbecue) to toast the hot dog rolls just until they are warm and lightly marked. You want them soft with just a little crunch.

To serve, divide lobster mixture among rolls. Top with scallions and celery leaves; drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with flaky salt and Espelette pepper if desired. Serve with more lemon wedges and the remaining seasonings (celery leaves, green onions, mayo) in small serving dishes.

The Best Lobster Rolls Ever (yes, really!)


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What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!

13 Responses to How to Make Perfect Lobster Rolls

  1. I developed a taste for lobster rolls when I was in my 20s and my folks were living in Nova Scotia… to a landlubber Ontarian, it felt a little sacrilegious at first to take a perfectly good lobster and chop it up in bits with mayonnaise, but I quickly learned that when you get just the right balance between lobster and mayo and lemon, it’s positively divine. Man, do I miss those lobster rolls.
    The only thing that’s missing to make these absolutely authentic to me is the top-split bun, but I’ve never seen those anywhere outside of the East Coast. :)

  2. I am ot a seafood lover, but your rolls look beautiful! I just got back from RI 2 days ago. My fiance is from there, ad we went for a glorious weekend. I highly recommend a trip to the Narragansett Bay area. It was beautiful. I hope you have a great time :)

  3. Looks great…I’m drooling. I grew up in New England next door to a lobsterman, and my own father used to take me scalloping with him. Nothing like a good lobster roll, and I haven’t had one in a while. Thanks for the reminder!

    • The good news is that they are not difficult to make at home! How about a nostalgic lunch making lobster rolls for you this weekend? :)

  4. I’ve never had a lobster roll but it looks like it might be missing avocado. Assuming one enjoys avacodo, would that be an ok addition or would it detract from the lobster.

    • The version I made is traditional but since avocado and lobster go so well together, and that the mayo is very lemony, I would definitely give it a try, I’m sure it would be delicious!

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