Classic Lobster Roll Recipe – Postcards from Maine – Lobster Wars

I swear I didn’t mention anything about having a food blog.  I just asked the nice guy behind the counter at the airport if he could recommend a great place for lunch.

He immediately replied, “since you’re heading north, you have to go to Red’s for their lobster roll!”.  He grabbed the map, circled Wiscasset, and in big letters wrote Red’s Eats.

We pulled into a charming village that some call the prettiest in Maine and lucked into a parking spot right across the street from Red’s.  We stared at the line in awe and disbelief.

We were starving…how long would it take?  Turns out, it was about 45 minutes (which is about average for a summer afternoon).  Some have been known to wait 1 1/2 hours in the scorching sun.

The folks in line were friendly and the cheerful staff passed out umbrellas and cold water.

The next time, I might have to go with a friend that could bring their dog(s)…the four leggers were ushered to the front of the line so the pups wouldn’t overheat.

We finally received our order and eagerly took our lobster rolls with a side of drawn butter (we could have opted for mayo) to a table overlooking the water.

These rolls were big…enormous, in fact.  Over a pound and a half of lobster meat nestled in a buttered, grilled bun.  The pieces were huge, torn by hand  with  a claw placed at either end and heaps of fresh lobster in the middle.  They were simple and to the point, satisfying and delicious.

A few days later we were in Rockport, and talk turned to lunch and we were told emphatically that Red’s Eats gets all of the press, but we had to go to Graffam Brothers, to have the “real”  best lobster roll in Maine.

Graffam Brothers has a small roadside stand across from their seafood market and the post office.  We pulled into their parking lot and hopped out of the car to find a smaller line of friendly people.

Dogs were welcome here as well, but had to wait their turn.

We ate on brightly colored picnic tables under large shade trees.

These rolls were different…not as large (but they cost less than half the price of Red’s).  The meat was cut into tender, more bite size pieces and dressed with a hint of mayo.  The contrast of the warm, buttery roll and the chilled lobster was…well, wonderful.

OK,  which did we prefer?

Split decision.  Jeff loved the simplicity of Red’s fresh, succulent lobster in a bun.  I preferred the smaller, more tender chunks from Graffam Brothers…I don’t mind a bit of mayo.

From what I’ve heard, most folks in Maine don’t go for the “fancy” versions with celery, peppers, onions or herbs.  They want their lobster simple and straightforward.

Dana suggested that those of us “from away” could add a bit of celery, a sprinkle of lemon zest and a touch of lemon juice to a mayo base, but please don’t tell the folks in Maine!

So, the next time that we want a taste of Maine to share with family and friends for Sunday Supper, this is what I’m going to do.

First, the lobster.  Try to find a market in your area that flies the lobsters in daily from Maine and have them cook them  for you.  That way, all you have to do is remove the meat, look it over carefully for any shell particles and you’re good to go.  Another option, Graffam Brothers will ship live lobsters to your door.

Second, the bun.  In Maine, they are not called hot dog buns, they are called frankfurter rolls.  They look like hot dog buns with their ends cut off and a cut halfway down the middle, and that’s exactly what you need to do if you are not in New England.

Now grill these like you would grill cheese.  My technique?  Spread the sides with room temperature butter and place in a hot skillet turning till lightly golden on each side.

If you want the Red’s Eats version, pile lots of hand pulled lobster in the middle and place the claws on each end…serve with drawn butter or mayo.

If you want the Graffam Brothers version,  cut your lobster into bite size chunks and toss with a scant amount of mayo (it will depend on the size of the lobster).


Classic Lobster Roll

Yield: 1 serving

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

A classic taste of Maine.


1 - 1 1/2 pound lobster, cooked, (meat removed and checked for shell particles) cut or torn into pieces
1 scant tablespoon mayonnaise
1 frankfurter roll or hot dog bun with sides cut off (just remove a tiny bit from the sides or they will fall apart)
1 teaspoon butter


Toss the lobster meat with the mayonnaise. Chill.

Heat skillet and butter the outside of the roll. Place roll in the skillet and grill till lightly golden on each side.

Open the roll and place lobster claws on either side, fill the middle with the rest of the lobster.

Now, take a bite…you decide!


Update: Diane wrote in to let us know that for bakers reading this post, King Arthur Flour makes a pan that is perfect for making New England Hot Dog Rolls and they include a recipe.   You can find the information in this link.









10 Responses to “Classic Lobster Roll Recipe – Postcards from Maine – Lobster Wars”

  1. 1

    Carol Sacks — Monday, July 16, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    Sounds like your important research trip was a success:) Fun post, Susie!

    • Susie replied: — July 16th, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

      Yes, I do believe the trip was a success…in more ways than one. Chicago was a blistering 103 and Maine was a very pleasant 72.

  2. 2

    Diane OConnor — Monday, July 16, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    What a lovely article! As for making those rolls …. King Arthur Flour actually has a pan that will make those classic New England rolls.

    • Susie replied: — July 16th, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

      Oh, I didn’t know this…I’ll have to add this to the post, thank you!

  3. 3

    Barbara | Creative Culinary — Monday, July 16, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    You are KILLING me. I love lobster but never buy it. Here in Denver it’s the price of gold. But I remember a trip to the east coast several years ago to visit a daughter in CT. We had lobster every meal possible and I would take either of the two you had…they don’t need much in the way of seasoning; it’s the lobster I love. Now I will finish my Cheerios and sigh. :)

    • Susie replied: — July 16th, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

      Sadly, I just read the lobster prices are plummeting because of a glut on the market..maybe lobsters might be a value in your area now. I hate to think of those very hardworking lobstermen (and women) having a hard time, though.

  4. 4

    LiztheChef — Monday, July 16, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

    How did you know that I am so homesick for the East Coast and a lobster roll? Terrific post.

    • Susie replied: — July 16th, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

      I know what you mean…I’ve been craving one for days myself and I just might have to have one (or two) this week.

  5. 5

    Kathy Aragaki — Monday, July 23, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

    Your post made me start thinking of my next family trip! It’s too bad the Inn
    doesn’t allow guests under 15. I really want to try those lobster rolls! Nice photography Jeff.

    • Susie replied: — July 23rd, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

      Maine is such a great place to visit…I didn’t know that the Inn had an age restriction. Thanks for the compliment!

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