This is How we (Lobster) Roll

Liam’s button says “Both” because we had butter and mayo on our Lobster Roll at the Clam Shack.

I looked for a Lobster Roll recipe in an old cookbook I have called American Cooking: New England, put out by Time Life. They didn’t have a recipe, but I did find out that “there are reports from the early days of lobsters six feet long and monsters weighing 20 to 30 pounds.” Can you imagine early settlers pulling a lobster out of the water as big as a grown man? I also learned that lobsters can live almost forever; they just grow bigger and bigger after they reach a certain size (unless caught by lobstermen) and that they are related to insects.

Since I didn’t find my Lobster Roll recipe there, I turned to a cookbook I have called Dishing up Maine, but once again, struck out but did learn a bit of Lobster History. Lobsters were so abundant in the 1800’s you could simply pick them off the beach and they were such a common and non-desired food, they were fed to prisoners three times a week and also to chickens, for chicken feed. Once fishermen began lobstering in the mid-19th Century, the lobsters became more scarce and, consequently, more expensive.

I next turned to good old James Beard, an expert on all kinds of American food and his cookbook, American Cookery. Despite recipes for Lobster au gratin, Newburg, and Fra Diavolo, there was no recipe for a simple Lobster Roll. I started thinking maybe the Lobster Roll was a more recent invention and that is why it wasn’t appearing in any older cookbooks.

At this point, I decided to venture into the 21st Century and Googled “Lobster Roll.” My best friend Wikipedia reported that the Lobster Roll was invented at a restaurant in Milford, Connecticut called Perry’s in 1929. Eventually the popularity of the Lobster Roll spread to other New England states and it is know mostly associated with Maine. In Connecticut, they serve the Lobster Rolls hot, but in Maine they are served cold, in a New England hot dog bun, which is split at the top.

I have to admit, when I ate my first Lobster Roll at Alisson’s in Kennebunkport, I was surprised the lobster meat inside was served cold. Lobster Rolls consist of knuckle, claw and the lobster tail meat, lightly seasoned with either butter or mayonnaise (or both). They are usually served with potato chips or french fries and pickles. Lobster Rolls are the quintessential beach food, perfect after a hot day in the sun, served with an ice cold beer. This recipe is from the classic Joy of Cooking.

It is apparent to serious shellfish eaters that in the great evolutionary scheme of things crustaceans developed shells to protect them from knives and forks.

Calvin Trillin, Alice, Let’s Eat

Lobster Roll

Recipe by gleeguilfordCourse: EntreeCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking timeminutes



This classic Lobster Roll is the quintessential beach food and is a breeze to make, if you have lobster on hand. Hot dog buns are traditional, but hamburger buns or slider rolls can also be used in a pinch. Lobster-pinch, get it?


  • 1 pound boiled or steamed lobster meat, coarsely chopped.

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup minced celery

  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

  • 4 Hot Dog Buns, lightly toasted or grilled.


  • Combine all ingredients, but buns. Divide the lobster mixture among the buns and close tightly.


  • For a more classic Lobster Roll, you can omit the minced celery. In the Joy of Cooking recipe, they also added sliced tomatoes and basil leaves as optional ingredients, but those aren’t traditional garnishes.

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Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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