Surf and Turf on the Grill with Herb Compound Butter
Feb 03, 2020, Updated Jan 20, 2024
Our Grilled Surf and Turf marries the best of the earth and the best of the sea with a Petite Filet Mignon and Lobster Tails, both grilled, and then finished with an herb compound butter.
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Table of Contents
What is Surf and Turf?
Surf and Turf describes a meal that includes one food earth element like beef, and one seafood element, most typically shellfish, like shrimp or lobster. Because of the expense of such a meal, it’s often made for special occasions. But when done right can be so much more satisfying (and delicious) than the up-charge at most restaurants.
Best Steak Options
Any quality steak works that you like. But we recommend a thick steak that ranges from 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches thick is best for grilled surf and turf. For convenience of cooking time and flavor use:
- Filet Mignon – Lean and tender and the most common seen in restaurants.
- Petite Filet Mignon – Also from Beef Tenderloin but from the smaller end. Good portion size for this recipe.
- New York Strip or Manhattan Strip (Smaller version of the NY) – NY has great marbling and flavor.
- Ribeye – Great marbling and great on the grill. Can cause flare ups.
Best Seafood Options
Seafood grills quickly, so whatever you choose be sure it’s a larger meat like:
- Lobster Tails – Grills easily and a great presentation. You can buy various sizes.
- Crab Claws – There are many types of crab – large claws have a butter rich flavor similar to lobster.
- Jumbo Size Shrimp – Large shrimp are a nice option. Look for the largest size you can find.
- Prawns – Prawns are technically not shrimp. Prawns are larger and often come with the shells on which makes great presentation.
Check out our grilled lobster tail recipe to learn about how to break down the lobster tail for grilling.
How to Make Surf and Turf on the Grill
The idea is to coordinate and grill the food so the meat all comes off and ready at the same time. Because it’s ideal to let the beef rest 10 minutes before slicing, and to serve the lobster tails warm, coordinate by grilling the steak first, and then as it finishes and rests, to grill the tails.
- Make the compound butter in advance. Can be made several days prior.
- Prepare the grill for two zone or direct/indirect grilling using lump charcoal. We like to target 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Season the steak and prepare the lobster tails.
Grill The Steak
- Grill the steak over direct heat for 5 minutes per side or until a nice sear, and then move to indirect heat and cover the grill.
- Remove the steak when the internal temperature of the steak reaches the desired finishing temperature (see chart below) using a good instant read thermometer. Let rest on a cutting board loosely tented in foil.
- Add a dollop of the compound butter to the top of the steak while it rests.
Grill Lobster Tails
- While the steak rests, grill the lobster over direct heat for 5 minutes flesh side down.
- Flip and finish flesh side up. Add a dollop of the compound butter to the lobster. Continue grilling until the internal temperature of the lobster tails is 135 degrees F using an instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks Thermapen One. This will take roughly 4 more minutes. Always cook to temperature not time.
- Remove, slice the steak, and serve with your favorite sides.
Have your side dishes prepared and finished prior to starting the steaks. You can keep it warm in the oven at 150 degrees F or your lowest setting in the oven.
Beef Temperature Ranges
Be sure to take into consideration the carry-over cooking that happens while the steak rests. For steaks remove them 5 degrees lower than your desired temperature. For roasts remove them 10 degrees lower. The steak’s internal temperature will rise as it rests.
|Black and Blue
|100 – 120° Fahrenheit (F)
|37 – 48° Celsius (C)
|120 – 130° F
|48 – 54° C
|130 – 140° F
|54 – 60° C
|140 – 150° F
|60 – 65° C
|Medium Well (not recommended)
|150 – 160° F
|65 – 71° C
|Well Done (not recommended)
|160 – 170° F
|71 – 76° C
Explore all of our side recipes or from some of our favorites.
- Grilled Green Beans with Grilled Lemon
- Grilled Carrots
- Grilled Broccolini
- Perfect Roasted Potatoes
- Parsnip Puree or Mashed Potatoes
Wine Pairing for Surf and Turf
With two very different proteins for your typical surf and turf I highly recommend having two smaller glasses of wine (both a white and a red), so you can enjoy one with the lobster and one with the steak. This is a good opportunity to buy those half bottles you see at wine stores (or just save any unused wine for later in the week).
For the lobster look for a hearty white with some oak in it, like Chardonnay, or Champagne or sparkling blancs de blanc. For the steak, steer clear of something too big and tannic (tannins clash in a bad way with the lobster). Instead stick to lighter style reds like Pinot Noir or other red such as lighter style Zinfandel or Malbec.
Now on 2nd edition
Fire + Wine Cookbook
“This book is a one-stop guide for anyone truly interested in elevating their BBQ experience into a culinary work of art.”
5 out of 5 Stars
San Francisco Book Review
Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.
Grilled Surf and Turf Recipe
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
- 1 tablespoon diced shallots
- 1 tablespoon diced chives
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Combine: In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir with a fork.
- Roll Out: Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and place the butter onto the plastic wrap. Slowly form into a log about 1 1/2 inches wide. Cover the log with the plastic wrap tightly and twist the edges. Place into the refrigerator to harden until ready to use.
- Dollop: When ready to grill the lobster tails, cut 4 teaspoon size medallions. Store any excess compound butter in the fridge for later use (great on grilled steak and pork!)
Grilled Surf and Turf
- Prep Grill: Prepare the grill for two zone or direct/indirect cooking with lump charcoal. Target 450 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit over the direct heat.
- Season: While the grill heats up, combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Coat the steaks with olive oil and dust them with some of the salt and pepper. Save some of the seasoning for the lobster.
- Cut Lobster: Prepare the lobster by placing the lobster tails on a cutting board with the hard shell facing up. Using a chef knife or kitchen shears, gently cut the shell starting about 1/2 inch from the tail and working your way to the side that is open with the meat. Take care not to cut all the way through the other side.
- Open: Gently open the shell, exposing the meat using two hands. You will hear some cracking. Remove any shell that may break from the meat.
- Season: Season the flesh of the lobster tails with the remaining salt and pepper. (no olive oil needed)
- Place the steaks over direct heat for 5 minutes and cover the grill. Flip the steak over, cover grill, and grill for another 5 minutes. Then move to the indirect side and cover. Continue grilling over indirect heat until the internal temperature reaches your desired doneness. We like 125 degrees F for rare (about 8 minutes). Remove and let rest for 10 minutes and place one teaspoon of the butter on each steak while resting (it will slowly start to melt into the meat).
- While the steak is resting grill the lobster.
- Place the lobster tails over direct heat, meat side down for approximately 5 minutes or until it gently pulls away from the grill without sticking.
- After flipping add about a 1 heaping teaspoon medallion of the compound butter over the meat. Grill for an additional 3 – 4 minutes over direct heat. The butter will slowly melt. When the internal temperature of the lobster meat reaches 135 degrees F it is done.
- After removing from the grill, place another teaspoon medallion of butter on the lobster meat and then serve warm with your favorite sides.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.