This is the easiest and best way to cook lobster tail

Planning a romantic Valentine's Day meal? Nothing is more luxurious than sweet and buttery lobster.
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By Alessandra Bulow

When it comes to seafood, nothing is more luxurious than lobster. Even though this shellfish is pricey, there's no need to be intimidated because learning how to cook lobster tail is actually pretty simple — and far less messy than cooking a whole lobster. It's also less expensive than purchasing the whole crustacean, especially if you buy frozen lobster tails.

"Lobster tail is a treat and is very easy to prepare," Brendan Walsh, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America, told TODAY Food. "It has a wonderful sweet, briny flavor that's not fishy and smells like the freshness of the ocean. The main thing you don't want to do is overcook it."

According to Walsh, these are the absolute best ways to cook lobster tail.

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How to cook lobster tail

  • 1. Roasted lobster tail

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using kitchen scissors, cut the outer shell down the middle. This will allow the shell to open up. Using your palms, spread open the shell until you expose the beautiful, white meat of the lobster tail. Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the tail meat and fill the opening with lemon slices, fresh thyme and butter (which will keep the meat from drying out). Top the tail with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, if desired. Roast the tails in the oven for about 12-15 minutes. The roasted lobster tail is done when an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees when inserted into the middle of the tail.

  • 2. Broiled lobster tail

Using kitchen scissors, cut the outer shell down the middle and spread open the shell until the meat is completely exposed. Make a slit in the tail meat and fill the opening with a bit of butter to protect the meat. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes. The tail is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted registers 140 degrees.

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  • 3. Grilled lobster tail

Preheat the grill. Prepare the lobster tail for cooking so that the meat is completely exposed. Place it shell side down on the grill to protect the meat. Close the lid and grill for 5 to 7 minutes, basting two or three times times by lightly brushing the exposed meat with melted butter. The shell will get harder as it cooks, but the meat will remain juicy. The grilled lobster tail is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted registers 140 degrees. For a truly unique preparation, try lemon-thyme butter or extra-virgin olive oil flavored with thyme and lemon zest.

  • 4. Steamed lobster tail

Using kitchen scissors, cut the outer shell of the tail down the middle and spread it open until the meat is exposed. Place the lobster tail in a steamer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the meat becomes opaque and an inserted instant-read thermometer reads 140 degrees. Serve with melted, flavored butters or in a lobster roll.

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  • 5. Boiled lobster tail

When boiling lobster, do not heat the water to a roiling boil, which occurs at 212 degrees. Instead, the water should be heated to a simmer at 185 degrees. Boil the whole, uncut tail for 10 minutes, then allow it to cool before serving. Wearing gloves, squeeze the bottom of the tail and the top will crack and open up very quickly. Use kitchen shears to release the meat in the boiled lobster tail.

  • 6. Sautéed lobster tail

Using kitchen scissors, cut the outer shell down the middle and remove the meat from its shell. Slice the meat into 1/2-inch pieces. In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon minced shallots and 1 sprig of thyme. Add the lobster meat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the meat is slightly translucent and cooked through. Add in a squeeze of lemon juice and serve over buttered toast points.

  • 7. Microwaved lobster tail

Just don't do it, Walsh said — and the TODAY Food editors agree. Delicate lobster tails do not belong anywhere near a microwave!

Now get ready to shell-ebrate with these decadently delicious recipes featuring lobster tail.

Butter Poached Lobster Salad

"It may seem a little intimidating, but there is no better way to impress a date than to serve home-cooked lobster," chef Michael Gulotta told TODAY Food. "This dish is luxurious, but surprisingly light and refreshing."

Lobster Roll Sliders

"What could be wrong with sweet, succulent lobster meat tossed in a creamy, crunchy sauce in between buttery bread? Nothing!" cookbook author Siri Daly said. She loves to turn them into bite-sized sliders for parties.

Luke's Lobster Roll

Luke's Lobster Roll

Luke's Lobster

This Maine-style roll is seasoned with just a few spices, a touch of butter and a bit of creamy mayonnaise so the beauty of the lobster meat really shines through.

Hot Artichoke and Lobster Dip

This decadent appetizer can be whipped up in just minutes using a food processor. The creamy texture and rich flavors make this a real crowd pleaser!