Motivated by numerous recent reports indicating attractive properties of composite materials of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and liquid crystals (LCs) and a lack of research aimed at optimizing such composites, the process of dispersing CNTs in thermotropic LCs is systematically studied. LC hosts can perform comparably or even better than the best known organic solvents for CNTs such as N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP), provided that the dispersion process and choice of LC material are optimized. The chemical structure of the molecules in the LC is very important; variations in core as well as in terminal alkyl chain influence the result. Several observations moreover indicate that the anisotropic nematic phase, aligning the nanotubes in the matrix, per se stabilizes the dispersion compared to a host that is isotropic and thus yields random tube orientation. The chemical and physical phenomena governing the preparation of the dispersion and its stability are identified, taking into account enthalpic, entropic, as well as kinetic factors. This allows a guideline on how to best design and prepare CNT–LC composites to be sketched, following which tailored development of new LCs may take the advanced functional material that CNT–LC composites comprise to the stage of commercial application.