I have bought lobster tails a couple of times at Costco and, while at first glance they looked the same, many people would say that they were fundamentally different products.
I greatly enjoyed both types of lobster when I cooked them on my grill but I am not a hardcore lobster fanatic. If you have a more refined seafood palate then let me point out some key features of the lobster tails so you can be aware of what you are buying.
What Kind of Lobster Does Costco Sell?
I have found two types of lobster tails being sold at Costco:
- Cold Water Lobster tails from the USA
- Warm Water Lobster Tails from Brazil
How different are these types of lobster?
Cold Water Lobster from the USA
The cold water lobster in Maine is the species Homarus Americanus and it is the largest of all of the lobster species. These lobsters are found from North Carolina to Canada and are prevalent along the New England coast.
The meat from these lobsters is primarily in the tail but also is found in their two large claws, one of which is typically bigger than the other.
Warm Water Lobster Tails from Brazil
The warm water lobster from Brazil are primarily the species Panulirus Argus and is often referred to as a Caribbean Spiny Lobster. These lobsters are found of the coast of Brazil as well as the Gulf of Mexico and throughout the Caribbean.
While these lobsters do have claws they are much smaller than the massive pinching claws found on cold water lobsters.
Brazil is one of the top three producers of this type of lobster along with Cuba and Nicaragua.
Differences in Flavor and Texture Between Cold and Warm Water Lobster
When you look up the differences between Cold and Warm water lobster the general consensus on the Internet is that cold water lobster is superior in terms of taste and texture while warm water lobster tails are meatier.
The lore is that:
- Lobsters grow at a slower rate in cold water. The slow growth makes the tail meat more firm and imparts a sweet taste.
- Warm water lobsters grow faster so you tend to get more tail meat but the meat is a little squishy and has more of a seafood flavor.
I will say that I was unable to tell a difference between the Warm and Cold water lobster tails that I have purchased at Costco. I will also note that most of the Internet resources saying that warm water lobster is inferior is provided by companies that are selling cold water lobster.
These Tails Are Thawed from Previously Frozen
Both the warm and cold water lobster tails were thawed from a previously frozen state and this is another point of contention among hardcore lobster fanatics.
There is also “general wisdom” that you should only buy a fresh or frozen lobster tail but never ones that have been thawed.
The price of the lobster tails were:
- $29.99 per pound for Cold Water Lobster Tails
- $25.99 per pound for Warm Water Lobster Tails
The price difference between the cold and warm water tails is consistent with the cold water variety being a superior product. That being said, I bought these several months apart and the price difference might be a result of fluctuations in market pricing.
You typically get five lobster tails per package with an average weight of around 4 ounces per tail.
While nearly $30 per pound looks expensive, these are a bargain compared to Costco’s King Crab Legs which come in at nearly $40 per pound!
My standard way of serving lobster tails are to grill them over high heat for 8-12 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 140F. We pull the meat from the shell and dip it into a bowl of melted butter with lemon juice.
Personally I think the lobster is okay but not great. There isn’t anything wrong with the lobster but it is not so incredible to justify a price tag of almost $30 per pound.
A package of these tails will set you back between $40 and $50 at Costco and I think I would rather spend the same amount of money on shrimp and ribeye steaks.