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The Great Lobster Roll Debate

Updated on July 14, 2010

Warm or chilled? Mayo or butter? Lettuce or no lettuce? Here are recipes for a chilled Maine Lobster Roll and a Warm Lobster Roll. Try them both and decide for yourself!

Classic Warm Lobster Roll Recipe


  • 1 lb fully cooked lobster meat
  • 4 New England-style hotdog rolls*
  • melted butter (preferably clarified butter)
  • 4 tbs softened butter
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


Spread the outsides of each of the hotdog rolls with softened butter. Place on hot griddle and cook until toasted on both sides. Remove from griddle.

Cut or tear the warm lobster meat into large chunks at least 1", preferably 2". Place in a bowl and toss with melted butter so that all pieces are coated. Divide evenly among the hotdog rolls.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges, cole slaw and french fries.

*If you cannot find real New England-style hotdog buns, which are cut on the sides, try buying slightly oversized buns and trimming the crust off of both sides.

How To Make A Warm Lobster Roll

Classic Maine Lobster Roll Recipe

This recipe comes from Jasper White, author of "Lobster at Home".


4 New England-style hot dog buns*

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 recipe Lobster Salad (see recipe, below)

4 Boston or bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried

4 dill pickle spears

Potato chips

Lobster Salad

1 pound fully cooked lobster meat or 5 pounds live lobsters

1/2 cup special mayonnaise for lobster or Hellman's Mayonnaise

2 or 3 small scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


To make the Lobster Salad

If you are using live lobsters, cook them fully and cool to room temp. Remove the meat from the shells and cut into 1/2" to 3/4" pieces.

Place the cucumber in a strainer for at least 5 minutes to drain the excess liquid.

Combine the lobster, cucumber, scallions and mayonnaise. Season with a bit of salt and pepper if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To make the lobster roll

Heat a 10" skillet or griddle over medium heat. Spread each of the hotdog buns with 1 tablespoon butter (1/2 on each side). Place the buttered buns onto the hot dry pan and toast, without moving, until golden brown on one side, about one minute. Turn and cook the other side, about one minute more. Remove from heat.

Open the buns and place in a paper bun holder or on a small plate. Place a lettuce leaf on one side of the center inside the bun. Spoon the lobster salad evenly among the buns. Serve with pickles and potato chips on the side.

*If you cannot find real New England-style hotdog buns, which are cut on the sides, try buying slightly oversized buns and trimming the crust off of both sides.

"Temperature's rising, the surf's pounding, the lobster harvest is at an all-time high. Bring on the lobster rolls! The roll: It must be a stand-alone hotdog bun, rectangular, flat on both sides, coming to a crisp right angle at the flat base. If it's oval or toasted, do not touch it. If it's not buttered, do not even look at it. The meat: It must be fresh and predominantly from the tail. It must be at least three inches wide at the top, extending at least an inch above the crest of the bun. No less than a quarter-pound of lobster per sandwich."

--- "On A Roll", David Shribman, Fortune, 8/13/2001 (p. 198)

Warm or Cold?

Lobster rolls are one of my favorite summertime treats -- freshly cooked chunks of lobster drenched in melted butter, topped with a squeeze of lemon and served up in a grilled New England-style hotdog roll. Heaven.

A few years ago during a trip to Maine, horror of horrors. I had just ordered a lobster roll at a local eatery, and was salivating in anticipation of that Maine lobster goodness. They simply couldn't make the order fast enough.

Our lunch finally arrived and I was dumbfounded. There had to be a mistake. Some kitchen fool had dumped a load of lobster salad into a hotdog roll and was trying to pass it off as an authentic lobster roll. It couldn't be. I mean, there was mayonnaise on my lobster. MAYO! And there was lettuce. You don't serve lettuce on a lobster roll! They even had the audacity to put in scallions and celery... And the lobster was chilled. It was COLD! Dear Lord.

I did finally recover from that tragedy and came to grips with the fact there are some ignorant souls out there who don't know how to make real lobster rolls. I even learned to ignore the few McDonald's that began to put lobster rolls, dubbed the McLobster, on their seasonal menu. I'll pretend it all doesn't exist and live happily ever after with my warm lobster roll.

The Origin of the Lobster Roll

There is no definitive evidence that shows exactly where and how the lobster roll was created. It is generally accepted that during the 1800's, the wealthy New England women enjoyed serving lobster at their fancy luncheons, but did not want to deal with getting the meat out of the shell. Their chefs tried to come up with lunch-friendly ways to serve the sweet meat, and lobster salads were an obvious choice.

In 1912, the first hot dog buns were commercially manufactured. It was sometime after this that the delectable lobster salads found their way into these buns, and the lobster roll was born.

It is rumored that the original lobster roll was invented in 1966 by Fred Terry, owner of the Lobster Roll Restaurant in Amagansett, New York. He created a recipe that contained mayonnaise and various seasonings and he served it in a heated hotdog roll. This version is quite often known as the Long Island or New York Lobster Roll.

Sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s, Ted Hale, a regular customer at Perry's restaurant in Milford, Connecticut, requested that warm lobster chunks be served in a grilled hotdog bun, and the Connecticut Lobster Roll was born. Its popularity spread and is now the standard preparation in and around the state.

The Maine version of the Lobster roll is traditionally served with a dill pickle and potato chips. The Connecticut and Long Island versions are normally served with cole slaw and french fries.


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    • REALfoodie profile image

      C De Melo 6 years ago from Florence, Italy and WORLDWIDE

      I grew up in New England (outside of Boston). I can't tell you how much I miss the autumn and the lobster! Thanks!

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 7 years ago from Around the USA

      Hahaha! I got a kick out of this, as I prepare lobster rolls pretty much like the Maine restaurant that horrified you. As a matter of fact, I wrote a Hubpage about it. And I learned the recipe when visiting the New England area. I love them that way. But I've never been able to eat a lot of lobster at once. It's too rich. So maybe that's why.

    • profile image

      assember 7 years ago

      oh boy , did I get hungry watching that video, one day I'll print out this webpage and,,, do it :) well done

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 7 years ago from USA

      Thx, Earnest! I will eat a lobster roll tomorrow in your honor!

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Irohner, You have written about my favorite food of all time. I could sit down to a couple of thermadors then still find room for these recipes! Another great hub! Thank you.

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much, Ripple. Lobster's almost ready... Come on over! :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Coming back to give you a round of applause for winning the Hubnuggets! Alright! Let's have a lobster celebration. If you are cooking, I'm eating. LOL :-)

    • lovemyself profile image

      lovemyself 8 years ago

      Yummy and thanks! Good hub~

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks for stopping by Joy, and have a lobster roll for me this weekend!

    • profile image

      Joy Lindquist 8 years ago

      I LOVE lobster rolls and can't wait to try these.  Yummy and thanks!

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Nicole - They are deeeelish! Be sure to try the warm lobster roll, though. It's not only the easiest to make, it tastes the best! Thanks!

    • Nicole Winter profile image

      Nicole A. Winter 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Great hub, thanks for publishing this! I'd never heard of lobster rolls before, sounds tasty!

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks Rnmsn! Appreciate the support.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 8 years ago from Tucson, Az

      sounds yummy Irohner! great video and easy to follow recipe! Congrats on the nomination as well!!!

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much Karen!

    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 8 years ago from Canada

      Hi there Irohner. Remember you from the forums - so pleased to see your hard work has been rewarded with a place in the hub nugget top 5. Congrats and see you around.

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks K@ri and Chica!

    • chicamom85 profile image

      chicamom85 8 years ago

      I have always wanted to try these. Great recipe, easy to follow, thanks

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Mmmmm, warm lobster roll. Now I am hungry! I am glad to hear you recovered from the mayo one...I shudder to even think about it. :D

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much for the support and the vote, Dorrene. Glad you enjoyed the post!

    • profile image

      Dorrene 8 years ago

      I loved your hub and the pictures are beautiful! I'm voting for this one!

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Girly girl - Vinegar? Hmmm... I think I understand why you get odd looks! :) Seriously though, this girl is game. I'll try it this weekend. And if you luv chowdah, be sure to have some at The Black Pearl in Newport, RI. It is da bomb!

      Wordscribe - THANK YOU for both your vote and the kind words.

      Mom - It really isn't as rich as you think. The lobster is usually prepared simply -- steamed or boiled. It's just drizzled with the melted butter. You really should try it sometime. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      Oh wow. I really enjoy lobster straight from the shell, but in a roll fried with butter seems a little rich. Maybe not. I've never tried it. I learn the most interesting things around here.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 8 years ago

      Just voted for your hub. Great group of hubs this week, but in the end I thought yours was just too well done to NOT vote for. Good job. I will be watching the results as I eat lobster.

    • girly_girl09 profile image

      girly_girl09 8 years ago from United States

      Nothing like an authentic lobster roll with a cup of clam chowdah'. :D I only like lobster two ways - in a grilled roll, tossed with melted butter (no mayo for this girl...) I don't care if the lobster in the roll is hot or cold...but the bun should be warm. :) The second way is steamed, right out of the shell, soaked in lots of balsamic vinegar and little bit of butter. In fact, I refuse to eat boiled/steamed lobster without balsamic or some form of vinegar. I am used to getting odd looks from waiters in restaurants: "vinegar? on your lobster?" hehe

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much, Red. Maybe you can figure out how to fit a lobster roll on a rye crisp? :)

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 8 years ago from Canada

      OMG - I am so hungry! Rye crisps and tomato slices are just not going to cut it.

      Congratualtions on your nomination. Well-deserved.

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      Thanks for the support Ripple and Wordscribe!

      And Ripple, unspoken, sacred rule of dieting -- lobster is okey to eat any time of the day or night, and however often you want to eat it. :)

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 8 years ago

      Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination!!! Two of mine were picked and won the top 5, it really does bring in a lot of traffic. Fantastic hub. Now, I must go find lobster. Yum.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      You are making me hungry!!! How could you? LOL It's almost midnight. Did I just promise no more eating midnight snacks? Hahaha Hey congratulations for being a Hubnugget Wannabe!

      To join the Hubnugget Fun and support our hubbers click this link: :-) Good luck...happy hubnuggeting!

    • lrohner profile image

      lrohner 8 years ago from USA

      I'm in the warm lobster roll camp myself. Would love to hear which one you think is best. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      Well, we've certainly got to try these recipes as we haven't had them since our last visit to Bar Harbour, Maine.

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