If you’ve wondered how to cook lobster, I can assure you it isn’t difficult! A pot of salted water (and some butter for serving) is all you need.

Lucky enough to live where lobster is plentiful? This super easy primer will show how to prepare the pot with water, how to tell when they are done, and then how to extract the most possible meat from the shell.

cooked lobster on a plate

We Love Lobster!

Depending on where you live, lobster can be plentiful or a rare treat reserved as a special occasion meal.

  • Truly the jewels of the sea, fresh lobster is a treat, no doubt.
  • Prepared properly, whole lobster, including the tail & the claw, tastes like nothing else.
  • Served hot with butter for dipping or in a traditional lobster roll, this recipe is the one that never fails!
  • Save the shells and a little bit of the lobster meat to make lobster bisque!

uncooked lobster on a plate

Ingredients

LOBSTER: Choose fresh, live lobsters that are active, preferably with the heavy band still around the claws and a fresh, slightly salty smell.

If using frozen, lobsters, the tails, or the claws should be thawed so the meat doesn’t overcook. Select lobsters between 1 and 2 pounds.

Salted water is all that’s needed to cook. Lobsters have a sweet, rich flavor all their own so all they need is a little melted butter and a bit of salt. A squeeze of fresh lemon is optional (I personally prefer without)!

Melted butter is great for serving. If you clarify the butter, it won’t harden as it cools and can be prepared ahead of time.

The butter can be jazzed up by using garlic butter or stirring in some seasoning like lemon pepper! Lobster can also be served with Easy Hollandaise Sauce or some Homemade Mayonnaise.

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How to Cook Lobster

No need to be intimidated, it’s super easy to cook lobster:

  1. Place whole, live lobsters in the freezer for 30 minutes while a large pot of water is coming to a boil. Add salt.
  2. Place chilled lobsters in the boiling water & cook (as per recipe below) until the lobsters turn bright red.
  3. Place lobsters on a serving plate and serve with butter and lemon.

COOKING TIP: A meat thermometer should read 135°-140°F when inserted into the meat underneath the tail, closest to the body.

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How to Know When Lobster is Done

As it cooks a lobster will turn bright red in color.

  • A meat thermometer should read 135°-140°F when inserted into the meat underneath the tail, closest to the body. Remember that the lobster will continue to rise a few degrees as it rests.
  • The meat inside should be white and opaque (no parts should look grey or translucent).
  • Eggs/roe inside should be bright red, not black.
  • The small legs should be very easy to pull off if the lobster is fully cooked.

Why Cook it Live?

Harmful bacteria starts to multiply rapidly once lobsters and other shellfish are dead so it’s important to cook lobsters while they are still alive to minimize the risk of toxicity.

removing tail meat from a lobster

How to Remove Meat from Lobster

  1. Remove the head by twisting it and pulling it away from the body.
  2. Turn the tail over and cut the center of the belly shell. Gently remove the entire tail from the shell. Remove the intestinal tract from the tail with a paring knife. Set aside.
  3. Twist the pincer claws away from the head. Then pull the legs off, remove and discard the gills. Scoop out the stomach, the liver (tomalley) which is the green part, and the roe or eggs (red) (also known as ‘coral’).
  4. Crack the claws with a meat mallet or the back of a knife and gently remove the meat. Repeat for the legs. There will be about 10 to 12 oz of edible meat, not including the coral.

removing claw meat from a lobster

Tips & Tricks

  • Avoid freezing lobsters too long, 30 minutes is just right.
  • Lobsters will continue to cook once they are removed from the heat, so avoid overcooking them. If they appear to be overcooking, plunge the cooked lobsters in a large bowl of ice water.
  • Salt the water generously.
  • It’s ok to cook the lobsters with the rubber band on the claw and remove it once cooked.
  • Freeze shells for a future fumet (seafood stock).
  • Reheat leftover lobster in a double boiler to avoid the meat becoming tough and rubbery.

More Lobster & Seafood Favorites

What’s your favorite way to cook lobster? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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How to Cook Lobster

Cook juicy and tender lobster every time with this easy how-to guide!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients  

  • 2 live lobsters 1 ¼ lb each
  • ¼ cup salt
  • butter and lemon for serving

Instructions 

  • Place lobsters in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add salt.
  • Place lobsters in the boiling water and allow the water to return to a gentle boil and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Once cooked, remove the lobsters from the pot and use a thermometer to ensure the temperature reaches 140°F in the meat underneath the tail, closest to the body.
  • Place cooked lobsters on a large plate or baking sheet to drain and cool enough to handle.
  • Serve with butter & lemon.

Notes

How to Tell a Lobster is Cooked:
  • The shell should be bright red.
  • A meat thermometer should read 135°-140°F when inserted into the meat underneath the tail, closest to the body. Remember that the lobster will continue to rise a few degrees as it rests.
  • The meat inside should be white and opaque (no parts should look grey or translucent).  Eggs/roe should be red (not black).
  • The small legs should be very easy to pull off.
Tips
  • Avoid freezing lobsters too long, 30 minutes is just right.
  • Lobsters will continue to cook once removed from the heat, so avoid overcooking. Plunge cooked lobsters in a large bowl of ice water if needed. 
  • It's ok to cook the lobsters with the rubber band on the claw and remove it once cooked.
  • Reheat leftover lobster in a double boiler to avoid the meat becoming tough and rubbery.

 

5 from 4 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 97 | Protein: 21g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 160mg | Sodium: 14680mg | Potassium: 255mg | Vitamin A: 5IU | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Dinner, Entree, Main Course, Seafood
Cuisine American

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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