Lobster is a delicacy. From surf and turf made famous at high-end, gourmet restaurants to a home-cooked meal of lobster bisque, there’s nothing in the world quite like the taste of lobster. If you are looking for the best, most authentic way to enjoy your lobster, look no further than the lobster roll. It’s the kind of taste that transports you directly to the New England shoreline, where the world’s most talented lobstermen bring you the world’s sweetest lobster.
Not all lobster rolls are created equally, however. Today, we’ll look at the differences between the two most popular types: the Connecticut vs. the Maine lobster roll. We’ll look at what makes each type such a unique and sought-after delicacy. We will also define what makes Maine lobster the ideal meat for these succulent sandwiches.
THE DEFINING ELEMENTS OF THE CONNECTICUT VS. MAINE LOBSTER ROLL DEBATE
When it comes to lobster-based cuisine, it doesn’t get any simpler—or more savory—than a good old-fashioned lobster roll. Like any other specialty food, lobster rolls differ depending on your region. While there are infinite possible recipe variations, there are two leading families of lobster rolls: the Connecticut vs. the Maine lobster roll.
Regardless of style, the most basic explanation of the lobster roll is fresh, succulent lobster meat paired with simple condiments, all nestled in a pillowy-soft, buttered and toasted, split-top bun. While the lobster roll initially originated in New England, the traditional ingredients for these sandwich-style lobster rolls are now the same all over the country.
And while they have their differences, the best Connecticut and Maine lobster rolls share a common foundation: The Maine Lobster.
AUTHENTIC MAINE LOBSTER: TASTE THE DIFFERENCE
Hands down, lobster meat is the essential part of the sandwich. It’s the star attraction that draws people to New England’s famous restaurants and lobster shacks dotting the coastline.
To make a proper lobster roll, you need succulent meat, freshly harvested at just the right time from the waters of Maine. This is where the lobsters shed their hard shells at certain times of the year to reveal the sweetest meat Regardless of style, nothing else comes close to the taste and quality of the lobster caught off Maine’s coastline. In fact, Maine lobster is such a delicacy that it accounts for almost 82% of America’s lobster trade.
In 2021, the state hauled in over 108 million pounds of the crustacean, worth a collective $724 million. In other words, Maine’s lobster fisheries are big business, working hard to supply the delicacy’s popularity. What makes Maine lobster such a sought-after commodity above the rest, though?
In general, cold-water lobsters are simply better than their warm-water cousins. Warm water lobsters (actually considered crawfish) tend to be smaller and spiny, yielding only tail meat when harvested. That’s because warm-water lobsters lack the meaty claws of their northern counterparts.
Any meat you find in the warm-water variants will be mushy and scant, making it a pale shadow of the lobsters found in Northeast United States waters. Aside from that, areas like the Maine coastline and the Long Island Sound provide the perfect breeding ground for cold-water lobsters to grow, thrive, and reproduce.
Before we discuss the differences between each style, it’s important to recognize the other unsung heroes that lobster rolls have in common: the condiments and the bread.
SIMPLE AND GENUINE CONDIMENTS
Part of what makes the lobster roll such a beloved treat is its simplicity. You don’t want too many “gourmet” elements creating an overly complicated dish. Instead, you want to be able to taste the sweet, succulent lobster with every bite you take. That’s why you’ll find only the most simple and genuine ingredients on an authentic lobster roll, like mayo, butter, and lemon butter, depending on your preferred lobster roll variation.
The best lobster rolls use condiments in just the right amount— a little bit of this and a little bit of that. In the end, it’s the seaside experience that matters most.
THE PERFECT BUTTERED BREAD
We’ve already mentioned it, but only a freshly baked, cushiony bun toasted and imbued with a layer of butter will do when it comes to an authentic lobster roll. Some shacks and restaurants try to spice things up with different bread combos, such as brioche or Italian bread, but a fluffy, buttery, toasted bun split right along the top provides the perfect counter texture to the sweet lobster meat inside.
Now that you know the all about the basic lobster roll elements, you may be ready to choose a winning roll. So exactly which combination of these ingredients makes the Maine and which combination makes the Connecticut lobster roll? We’re glad you asked.
CONNECTICUT VS. MAINE LOBSTER ROLLS: A TALE OF TWO SANDWICHES
There are distinct differences between the Maine and Connecticut lobster roll versions. Both are delicious, but each have a unique flavor that attracts fans from all over the world.
THE MAINE LOBSTER ROLL
The classic Maine lobster roll is the granddaddy of the lobster roll family, deeply rooted in tradition. Rich and creamy lobster meat creates a subtly complex combination of flavors and textures. It’s a taste that harkens back to the lobster shacks lining the Maine coast. That sense of nostalgia is an integral part of the lobster roll experience.
The Maine lobster roll is also the original version of the signature sandwich. With meat sourced directly from the Gulf of Maine Fishery, it gives you a little slice of New England with every bite.
The traditional lobster sandwich is served perfectly chilled. Its defining traits are thick cuts of mild, sweet, lobster, served with and a generous layer of mayo and lemon butter on a freshly toasted split top bun. That’s it—just a few simple, genuine ingredients are all you need to enjoy the lobster roll that started it all.
THE CONNECTICUT LOBSTER ROLL
On the other hand, the Connecticut style lobster roll provides a familiar entry point for tourists and lobster lovers alike who are looking for the authentic New England experience. While not rooted in a deep sense of tradition like the Maine lobster roll, the butter-drenched Connecticut roll is an experience all its own.
The Connecticut lobster roll gets its name from the Long Island Sound region of the Connecticut coastline. This sandwich represents an updated version of the tried-and-true classic. In fact, the Connecticut is what most of New England’s tourists associate with lobster delicacies.
Instead of the chilled lobster touted by the Maine roll, the Connecticut-style lobster roll is served warm. It’s packed with warm, thick cuts of meat from the tail and claw, tossed with just the right amount of indulgent butter and—you guessed it—tucked inside that delicious split top bun. Of course, you don’t need anything else for this lobster roll variation either, except for a healthy appetite.
THE CONNECTICUT VS. MAINE LOBSTER ROLLS: A ROARING DEBATE
In the battle of Connecticut vs. Maine lobster roll, which roll wins? When put in a head-to-head contest, it’s hard to declare a winner. Do you prefer the chilled, creamy taste and texture of the Maine-style lobster roll, or do you like your seafood served warm and layered with decadent butter? It’s a debate that’s raged across New England for decades. Not that choice is a bad thing. We’ll take lobster any way we can get it.
Have a craving for lobster? Want a little taste of the Atlantic ocean? We’ve got you covered. Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls offers the classic Maine lobster roll, the Connecticut lobster roll, and some exciting variations for the adventurous, like our delicious Lobster BLT roll. Visit us online to view our full menu or to find the location nearest to you.