Classic New England Lobster Rolls
Classic New England Lobster Rolls

Nothing says summer like a New England Lobster Roll! This classic recipe makes the lobster shine with big chunks of sweet meat, some mayonnaise and a hint of lemon. Keep it simple and serve with a side of chips.

We wait a long time for summer here in New England, and when it comes, it’s going to be spectacular. Maybe it’s the longing for it that makes it so.

On sunny summer days, one thing should not be missing: the lobster roll.

New Englanders are a low-key bunch, and that’s reflected in this classic summer festival. Just a few ingredients: chunks of lobster, mayonnaise and celery stuffed into a grilled hot dog bun and eaten on a dock near water on a sparkling day! That’s the essence of summer here, with or without a dock. Proust can have his madeleines. I’ll have a lobster roll.

There’s something so comforting about eating a lobster roll on top of a hot dog bun. It screams summer. It reads, “Nothing fancy here folks.” If you want frills, take your bacon, avocado, and brioche lobster rolls to a different table. Yes, New Englanders have a lot of attitude too.

On Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and both of our summer birthdays, our family forgoes burgers and hot dogs in favor of long-awaited lobster rolls. But it’s a scammer affair.

We rarely start with a live lobster. I mean you could You can also start a sandwich by baking bread from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I might cook up a lobster to eat with corn on the cob and a hot dog (another New England tradition), but the beauty of lobster rolls is their ease of preparation.

What’s the best lobster for lobster rolls?

If you’re reading this from Minnesota, my apologies. Freshly cooked New England lobster meat, purchased locally, really is the best. Frozen or canned lobster meat just isn’t the same as freshly cooked lobster, but if you have access to it, you can still make a tasty bun.

Here are three ways to get your lobster if you don’t live in New England:

  • Live Lobster: Usually, if you want to cook a live lobster, you should dip it in butter, not put it in a roll. But if you’ve got some fresh meat for your bun and you have the time (and money), then do it. Read our post on cooking and eating lobster.
  • Frozen: You can buy pre-cooked frozen lobster meat or uncooked frozen lobster tail at fish markets. Either one will do the trick.
  • Mail Order Lobster: If you don’t live in New England and don’t have access to freshly cooked meat or live lobster, but want to be as authentic as possible, several Maine lobster companies like Maine Lobster Now can ship fresh, frozen, or even live lobster for you overnight. It’s pricey, but fresh lobster really is the best. I have a lot of local options so I can’t personally vouch for the shipping companies but I trust Mainers to treat you well. (Also check out Simply Recipes’ roundup of the best lobster delivery services!)

If you’re looking for lobster meat for a lobster bun, you’ll mostly want a combination of lobster tails and claws. If you only have tail meat, that’s fine too.

Simply thaw cooked frozen meat in the refrigerator before using. It is best to thaw uncooked frozen tails 24 hours in advance and then steam them in salted water. The time depends on how big the tail is. A three to six ounce tail takes about four to six minutes.

How to prepare the lobster for rolls

A prized lobster roll has large, bite-sized chunks of lobster; so don’t cut too small. Some lobster rolls are made with just lobster, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Now that’s a real understatement.

What is a New England style hot dog bun?

The New England-style hot dog bun, also a Split-top or top-loading buns, was developed by Howard Johnson’s, a restaurant chain known for its clam strip rolls. Strips of flattened large surf clams were the standard for Howard Johnson’s New England clam rolls. The best clam rolls, made with deep-fried whole belly clams like Ipswich clams, are also served in New England-style buns, and lobster rolls followed suit.

Not only do these buns stand upright, but because they’re baked in a special pan, they have “white walls” rather than browned sides. These sides can be buttered and grilled in a pan.

You can turn a regular hot dog bun into a New England-style bun by slicing a piece of crust from each side of the bun to finish it off, ready to butter and grill in the pan.

More Summer Seafood Recipes

  • Paella with seafood
  • Simply grilled salmon
  • Grilled shrimp with lemon and pepper couscous
  • crab cakes
  • Grilled Fish Tacos with Strawberry Pineapple Salsa
  • Grilled tuna kebabs


Check out this New England Lobster Roll recipe

Classic New England lobster rolls

preparation time
10 mins

total time
10 mins

up to 6 servings


For the filling:

  • 1 lb cooked lobster meatcut into 1 inch pieces

  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 Cup fine chopped celery

  • 1/3 Cup mayonnaise

For the buns:

  • 4 to 6 New England style split top Hot dog pastries

  • 2 to 3 tablespoon Soft butter

To serve:

  • lemon slices

  • Potato Chips


  1. Make the Lobster Salad:

    In a bowl, whisk together the lobster meat, lemon juice, salt, pepper, celery, and mayonnaise. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if you like.

  2. Toast buns:

    Brush the outside of the buns with softened butter. Place a skillet or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the buns for about 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown.

  3. Assemble the lobster rolls:

    Fill each bun with lobster salad. Serve with potato chips and a lemon wedge.

nutritional information (per serving)
446 calories
19g Fat
44g carbohydrates
28g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!