How to Cook Lobster

Show no fear and this delicious crustacean will surrender.

With grocery stores stocking aquariums full of live lobsters, enjoying fresh lobster isn't reserved for coastal vacations. Cooking fresh lobster can be a quick and simple task that will make any night of the week a special occasion.

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1 Buy a Live Lobster

Lobster meat begins to deteriorate as soon as a lobster dies, which is why you'll find them swimming around in fish tanks, rather than wrapped and stacked on ice. Look for lobsters who hold their tails straight and lift their claws when aroused, rather than those with curled under tails or limp limbs. 

Purchase your lobster as close to cooking time as possible and no more than 24 hours ahead of time. Keep the lobster refrigerated until ready to cook. 

Resist the urge to remove the rubber bands on your lobster’s claws until just before cooking, lest your fingers get pinched.

2 Prepare Your Water

Boiling is one of the easiest and most forgiving methods of cooking lobster. Fill a pot large enough to fully submerge your lobster with water, then add about two teaspoons of sea salt per quart. You'll need three-to-four quarts of water for every pound of lobster.

3 Introduce Your Lobster to the Pot

Bring the pot of salt water to a rolling boil over high heat. Just before adding the lobster, remove the rubber bands from the claws with kitchen shears. Grasp the lobster where the head meets the tail and lower it into the pot head first. 

Adding the lobster head first ensures a quick kill, reducing thrashing and splashing.

4 Cook the Lobster

Place the lid on the pot and allow it to come back up to a boil. For a one-pound lobster, set the timer for eight minutes. For larger lobsters, add an additional three minutes for every half pound in weight.


5 Cool the Lobster

When the timer sounds, turn off the heat and pour the contents of the pot into a colander. Let the lobster drain and cool until it can be comfortably handled with your bare hands.

6 Remove the Lobster Tail

Before you tear into your lobster, make sure you have plenty of towels handy, as it can be a very messy job. To remove the tail, simply grasp the head in one hand, the tail in the other and twist until the two separate.

7 Remove Lobster Meat

Cut down the center of the soft underside of the tail and the meat should easily slide out. Remove the black vein that runs the length of the tail meat. Bend the flipper at the end of the tail backwards to break it off, and remove any meat found inside.


8 Crack the Claws

Use nut crackers and a pick or seafood fork to remove the tender and sweet claw meat. For larger lobsters, each leg can be removed and cracked in a similar manner to extract smaller morsels of meat.

9 Dip in Butter

Although freshly boiled lobster is fairly rich on its own, a quick dip in melted butter takes it to the next level. A spritz of fresh lemon brightens the flavors and balances richness. 

If by chance you don't eat all of the lobster meat just after boiling, the meat can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for two to three days, or frozen for up to three months.

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About Budget Bytes

Beth from Budget Bytes is a food lover and a number cruncher who dishes up healthy recipes on her blog that won't put a huge dent in your wallet. She is the author of the cookbook, Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half, and she also works as a microbiologist in a hospital laboratory. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.