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Secret Lobster Roll Recipe of Kennebunkport

a man and a woman standing in front of a window

My friend Alyson Austin gave me the recipe for the delicious lobsters rolls that we serve.  Alyson got this recipe from her mom, Gail.  The story behind this very special (not secret) recipe is too fun not to share! What follows is my interview with Alyson. She responded to my questions on a train ride back from Boston this past March.  We are super grateful to Alyson and Gail for sharing this recipe with us!

Capt. Abby: I thought I had the recipe from last year in my notes but I can’t find it anywhere. Would you please share the recipe with me again?

Alyson: The key to this recipe is a tablespoon of white vinegar with a teaspoon of sugar mixed into Hellman’s (called “Blue Ribbon” in some parts of the country) mayonnaise. This is important, fully dissolve the sugar in the vinegar before adding it to the mayonnaise. Do not use any mayonnaise substitute (such as Miracle Whip sandwich spread or Dukes). A quarter cup of Hellman’s and the vinegar/sugar to each pound of lobster (cut the lobster meat into bit-size pieces, it is nice to have one claw to each roll to make it look cool). Add more, or less, if you think the prepared lobster meat is too wet, or too dry. Another important thing is the rolls. Use the “top cut” hotdog rolls (these are hard to find in other parts of the country!). They allow the lobster meat to nestle nicely in the bun. Bonus: Grill the bun with a shmear of butter before stuffing the lobster meat into the bun.

Update! I came home and told Mom about the blog. I read the recipe to her. I was typing from memory and Mom said I missed the teaspoon of mustard! That is another unique element.

Capt. Abby: Is there a story about how she learned to make them this way?

Alyson: I must admit, this is a collective recipe that has floated around Kennebunkport for a long time. A dear family friend, Susan Hennessey, keeps this recipe close to her heart. Her mother, Betty Gould, seems to be the originator of the recipe. She has long-since passed and Susan is the keeper of the prized recipe, now. It is not a secret, it is just very special.

Capt. Abby: Would you please tell me the story again of your dad getting paid in one claw lobsters?

Alyson: My father owned the local hardware store in Kennebunkport, Austin’s Hardware. It was located where Flaming Gourmet is now, downtown Kennebunkport. Many of the lobstermen would come to the store for supplies to make their wooden traps and they would purchase other tools to make minor repairs that were necessary for their boats. Some would complain about how difficult it was to do their taxes. My father offered to do their taxes for them. They would compensate my father for the work by supplying him with lobsters. Sometimes they were smaller lobsters, or single claws, but never illegal. Occasionally, they were signal claw because they had been in a fight with another lobster! It’s OK, they grow back.

Capt. Abby: Any other fun story details to include??

Alyson: I am very proud of my parents for making a wonderful life for our family in Kennebunkport. Dad was a popular figure in town. First the hardware store, then he sold it to open the hotel. We owned Austin’s In-Town Hotel behind the drugstore, the Colonial Pharmacy. He served on the school board and worked tremendously hard for his family. The hotel is now part of the Kennebunkport Inn. I believe it serves as overflow rooms for that establishment, it might be referred to as the Kennebunkport Inn, Harborside.

Ingredients for Very Special Kennebunkport Lobster Roll:

  • 1 pounds cooked lobster meat, chopped into bite-sized pieces*
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s or Blue Ribbon ONLY)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 4 to 6 New England-style hot dog buns
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Combine the white vinegar and sugar and mix until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped lobster meat, sugared mayonnaise mix and mustard. Mix until well combined.
  3. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush the insides of the hot dog buns with melted butter.
  4. Toast the buns on the skillet or griddle until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  5. Once the buns are toasted, fill each bun with the lobster mixture, dividing it evenly among them.

Enjoy your homemade Very Special Kennebunkport lobster rolls!

*Our lobster rolls are made fresh for you the day of your adventure.  The lobster we buy fresh off the boat from local lobsterman Captain Tom Casamassa.  If you are looking for some of the freshest lobster around you can find his contact info here.