How to Cook Lobster

Cooking live lobster at home is super easy to do and takes just a short amount of time. Tender, juicy whole lobster is sweet and perfect just like your favorite restaurant.

Cooked lobster on a white platter.

We love going out for a lobster dinner to one of our favorite seafood restaurants in the summer. There’s just something so exciting about tying on a lobster big and having a whole steamed Maine lobster served to you on the waterfront.  It’s a very summer thing to do but it’s also very expensive. The next best thing is a Lobster Roll but I’d much rather skip the roll…and the mayo.

The mark up on whole lobster at restaurants is pretty astronomical and most people don’t realize it’s incredibly easy to make at home. And for half the price! 

Most grocery stores sell live lobsters in their seafood department but if your store doesn’t sell it, there are sooo many other mail order lobster companies that will ship it to you overnight.  It’s pretty readily available in most parts of the country these days so everyone can enjoy a homemade lobster dinner at home.

Live lobster being put into a large pot.

HOW TO COOK LOBSTER

Cooking live lobster at home only takes a few minutes of your time and, really, just one ingredient: the lobster.

  1. Fill a large, deep stock pot with about 3-4 inches of water and season heavily with salt. You can add aromatics like herbs or lemon to enhance the flavor but it’s definitely not necessary.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add the lobsters, head first, into the pot. 
  3. Cover tightly and steam the lobsters for 8 minutes per pound, for the first pound and then an additional 3 minutes per pound. So, if you’re cooking a 2 pound lobster it will take about 10 minutes for your lobster to cook fully.
  4. Using tongs, remove your lobster from the pot and check for doneness.  A fully cooked lobster will register 135-140˚F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the tail (you can do this easily by inserting into the underside of the tail.)

If you prefer to boil your lobster you can do that by filling your pot 2/3 of the way full and bringing to a boil. Season liberally with salt and add the lobster, head first to the water. Cook your lobsters for 7-8 minutes per pound, for the first pound and 2 minutes additional per pound.

Steaming is the best way to cook lobster because the lobster meat is less waterlogged and it’s sweeter in flavor because you don’t lose a ton of the flavor in the cooking liquid.

Boiling lobsters is great if you’re making more than 2 at a time but you do run the risk of water getting into the shell creating a more messy eating experience.

Cooked lobster being removed from a pot.

HOW MUCH MEAT IS IN A LIVE LOBSTER

A 1 1/2 pound lobster yields about 1 1/3 cups of lobster meat.  It’s the perfect amount for one person or for using in a salad. 

HOW TO BUY AND STORE LIVE LOBSTER

When selecting live lobster at the grocery store, look for lobsters that are lively and feisty. Check for cracks on their shells and missing limbs, like legs or claws. I look for lobsters that are on the smaller side weighing around 1 1/2 lbs. The larger the lobster, the longer it will have to cook and the tougher the meat could be.

To store your live lobsters, transfer them to a paper bag and store them in the coldest part of your refrigerator (not the freezer). The cold air will keep them docile and will limit their movement. When moving your lobster, be sure to pick them up by their body and not by a leg or claw.

Lobsters will only survive for 36 hours after being removed from salt water so be sure to cook your lobsters the same day you buy them.

overhead shot of two cooked lobsters on a white platter with lemon and parsley.

TIPS FOR COOKING LIVE LOBSTER

  • Pick your pot – Be sure to pick a pot large enough to steam or boil your lobster. A 4-5 quart pot is perfect for 2 lobsters but a larger pot will be needed for up to 4 lobsters. It’s best to cook your lobster in batches if you don’t have a pot large enough to cook more than 2.
  • Steam or Boil – The choice is really up to you whether to steam or boil your lobster but with steaming there’s less chance of boil over or having a messy, waterlogged lobster.
  • Lobster – Pick a lively lobster with all limbs in tact and never cook a dead lobster since they can cause food borne illness. Live lobsters are brownish-greenish in color and don’t turn red until they’ve been cooked.
  • Serving – Serve your lobster with melted butter and lemon wedges. That’s all that’s needed for you to enjoy your sweet, tender lobster dinner.

Cooked whole lobster cut in half on a white platter.

HOW TO SERVE LOBSTER

We like to keep things simple when serving up a lobster dinner. A fresh green salad or a bowl of coleslaw is all that’s needed to make this dinner well rounded and perfect. 

You could also make your own Surf and Turf by serving alongside a tender steak! One of our favorite ways to celebrate a special occasion.

Lobster Tails on a white platter with a silver spoon drizzling melted butter over top.

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Looking for more easy lobster recipes? We love this crazy simple Lobster Tail recipe...complete with video! Or you can grill your lobster tail for a summer cookout. 

This Lobster Mac and Cheese is a favorite for everyone who tries it and only takes about 30 minutes to make. And this Lobster Bisque is as creamy as it can get, so simple to whip up, too!

Overhead shot of Lobster Bisque in a white bowl with bread on the side and a lobster claw in the center of the soup.

overhead shot of two cooked lobsters on a white platter with lemon and parsley.

How to Cook Lobster

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: lobster
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: Kellie

Easy Steamed Lobster is simple to make at home in less than 20 minutes!

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Ingredients

  • 2 Live lobsters
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • melted butter for serving

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with 3-4 inches of water. Add the salt and bring the water to a boil.

  2. Grasping the lobsters by the body, add the lobsters to the pot headfirst and cover the pot.

  3. Boil or steam the lobsters for 10-20 minutes depending on the weight of the lobsters. 1 1/2 pound lobsters will take approximately 8-10 minutes. Check for doneness with an instant read thermometer and an internal temperature of 140˚F.

  4. Using tongs, remove the lobsters from the pot and place on a platter to drain and cool.

  5. Serve the lobsters with melted butter and lemon.

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