Lobster Rolls are the epitome of New England summer eats! This recipe features perfectly buttered potato rolls stuffed to the brim with fresh lobster salad. These homemade Maine lobster rolls are a fraction of the cost as what you'll pay at a restaurant, and just as delicious!
(This recipe was originally published in September 2019, but was updated with new photos and content in 2021).
Growing up in Rhode Island, fresh seafood was always a part of the equation. Whether it's clam cakes, clam chowder, fried calamari, or lobster rolls, seafood is king in this region.
There are two different styles of lobster rolls one can find in New England. The Connecticut lobster roll features hot lobster meat topped with warm drawn butter. Meanwhile, the Maine lobster roll features a cold lobster salad lightly dressed in mayonnaise and seasonings, with the option of adding chopped celery.
Although I would happily chow down on hot or cold lobster rolls, the cold Maine lobster roll is usually my preference. These homemade New England Lobster Rolls feature cool lobster salad studded with crunchy celery, served atop a bed of lettuce, and nestled in a buttered, griddled Martin's potato roll. The result is a classic New England summer mainstay that pleases the palate.
- Purchasing: American lobsters are usually sold in a couple basic sizes at supermarkets: chicken lobsters and regular lobsters. The chicken lobsters are smaller, usually maxing out at 1 ¼ pounds, but sometimes weigh more. Although they contain less meat, you can usually save a couple bucks per pound buying large chicken lobsters instead of regular lobsters, which can make this recipe more affordable. The tradeoff is your rolls will be a bit less packed with lobster meat. I also usually look for sales on live lobsters before planning to make this recipe.
- Cooking: You can easily take a shortcut with your lobster rolls by having your local seafood market or supermarket steam your lobsters for you if they offer this service. I am relieved not to have to cook the lobster myself, which is not something I particularly enjoy doing.
- Cleaning: Feel free to wear food safe gloves if you have them to keep your hands clean and avoid having them smell like lobster. Twist the tail and wiggle it free from the rest of the body. I like to use kitchen shears on the underside of the tail to cut a straight line down the length. This makes it easy to remove the shell. You may use a lobster cracker or nut cracker to break open shell on the knuckles and claws.
- Rolls: Although you could use nearly any hot dog style rolls to make lobster rolls, I recommend getting Martin's long potato rolls. They have great flavor and texture, and are in my opinion the best bread for making New England lobster rolls.
How to make it
You may boil your lobsters yourself or have your seafood market steam them for you.
Remove all the meat from the tails, knuckles, and claws and chop them into bite-size pieces with a few larger pieces for visual appeal. Transfer the meat to a bowl and mix in mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, chopped celery, salt, pepper, and sugar.
Lightly butter the inside of the potato rolls and place them facedown in a frying pan on medium heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they brown, taking care not to burn them.
Line each roll with a bed of shredded lettuce and then add a scoop of the lobster salad. Serve homemade Maine lobster rolls with potato chips or french fries.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
You may purchase a single lobster and halve the recipe to yield 2 rolls.
There's no beating around the bush. Lobster is expensive. I think of this as more of a special occasion recipe and not an everyday recipe. With that said, if you can get lobster on sale, and get some slightly larger chicken lobsters you can get a pretty good deal!
For the photos in this post I purchased 2 chicken lobsters weighing in at 2.8 pounds total and saved over $11 with the sale price. Regular (non-chicken) lobsters would have cost more per pound, so I really saved even more and only sacrificed a little bit of meat.
If you use slightly smaller chicken lobsters, add less mayonnaise to start (you can add more later) to ensure that it's not overly dressed if you have less meat.
Because the rolls are spread open and toasted on the inside, it results in the rolls laying a bit flat on the plate. It may appear that they aren't as full of lobster meat as they would be if the rolls held together more tightly, but trust me, it's still plenty of filling once you dig in!
Some purists may frown upon adding lettuce to the rolls, but I think it adds some nice texture and also keeps the rolls from absorbing any of the dressing and getting soggy.
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New England Lobster Rolls
- 2 (1 ½ pound) Maine lobsters
- 2 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped celery
- Pinch of salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon granulated sugar (optional—brings out the natural sweetness of the lobster meat)
- 1 tablespoon salted butter, softened
- 4 Martin’s hot dog potato rolls (long rolls)
- 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- In a large pot on high heat, bring 8 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Place lobsters in the water and allow them to cook for several minutes. When they float to the top, they are ready. Using tongs, remove them from the pot and cool under cold water. (Alternatively your seafood market or supermarket seafood counter may steam the lobsters free of charge).
- Remove all the meat from the tails, knuckles, and claws and chop them into bite-size pieces with a few larger pieces for visual appeal. Transfer the meat to a bowl and mix in the mayonnaise, lemon juice, celery, salt, pepper, and sugar, if using.
- Lightly butter the inside of the potato rolls and place them facedown in a frying pan on medium heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they brown, taking care not to burn them.
- Line each roll with a bed of shredded lettuce and then add a scoop of the lobster salad. Serve immediately.
- If you use slightly smaller chicken lobsters, add less mayonnaise to start (you can add more later) to ensure that it's not overly dressed if you have less meat.
- Because the rolls are spread open and toasted on the inside, it results in the rolls laying a bit flat on the plate. It may appear that they aren't as full of lobster meat as they would be if the rolls held together more tightly, but trust me, it's still plenty of filling!
- Adapted from The Kerber’s Farm Cookbook
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*