How to Cook a Lobster


When it comes to preparing a lobster, it’s important to know the proper techniques to ensure a delicious and satisfying meal. In this article, we will guide you through the process of cooking a lobster, from selecting the right lobster to serving it on a plate.

1. Selecting a Fresh Lobster

Choosing a fresh lobster is crucial for a successful cooking experience. Here are some tips to follow:

  1. Look for lobsters that are lively and active.
  2. Check for intact claws and a hard shell.
  3. Avoid lobsters with black spots or an ammonia-like smell.
  4. Preferably, select lobsters that are of medium size (around 1-2 pounds).

2. Preparing the Lobster

Before cooking the lobster, it is necessary to prepare it properly:

2.1. Cleaning the Lobster

Start by rinsing the lobster under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Use a soft brush to gently scrub the shell. Pay extra attention to the joints and crevices where dirt can accumulate.

2.2. Humanely Killing the Lobster

To ensure a humane death for the lobster, you can choose one of the following methods:

  1. Plunge a sharp knife through the lobster’s head, just behind the eyes.
  2. Place the lobster in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes to immobilize it before boiling.

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3. Cooking the Lobster

There are several methods to cook a lobster, including boiling, steaming, and grilling. In this article, we will focus on boiling as it is the most common method:

3.1. Boiling the Lobster

Follow these steps to boil a lobster:

  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the lobster.
  2. Add salt to the water (about 2 tablespoons per quart) to enhance the flavor.
  3. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
  4. Carefully place the live lobster into the boiling water, head first.
  5. Cover the pot and cook the lobster for about 10-12 minutes for the first pound, and an additional 3-4 minutes for each additional pound.
  6. Remove the lobster from the pot using tongs or a slotted spoon and place it on a plate.

3.2. Steaming the Lobster

If you prefer steamed lobster, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Place a steaming rack or basket in the pot.
  3. Put the live lobster on the rack, cover the pot, and steam for about 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the lobster.
  4. Remove the lobster from the pot and transfer it to a plate.

3.3. Grilling the Lobster

If you want to try grilling the lobster, here’s how:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Split the lobster in half lengthwise.
  3. Brush the flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the lobster halves flesh side down on the grill and cook for about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Flip the lobster halves and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  6. Remove the lobster from the grill and serve.

4. Serving the Lobster

Once the lobster is cooked, it’s time to serve it:

4.1. Removing the Meat

To extract the meat from the lobster, follow these steps:

  1. Twist off the claws and crack them open using a lobster cracker or a mallet.
  2. Separate the tail from the body by twisting and pulling it off.
  3. Use kitchen shears or a knife to cut through the underside of the tail and remove the meat.
  4. If desired, remove the small legs and extract the meat using a seafood pick.

4.2. Serving Suggestions

Here are some serving ideas for your cooked lobster:

  • Serve the lobster meat with melted butter, lemon wedges, and a sprinkle of parsley.
  • Use the meat to make lobster rolls or lobster salad.
  • Pair the lobster with a side of steamed vegetables and a fresh salad.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How can I tell if a lobster is alive?

A live lobster will be active and move its claws and antennae. If the lobster is motionless or smells bad, it is likely dead and should be avoided.

2. Can I cook a lobster that has molted?

No, it is best to avoid cooking lobsters that have recently molted. The meat can be soft and mushy, resulting in a less enjoyable eating experience.

3. Can I freeze a live lobster?

It is not recommended to freeze a live lobster as it may cause unnecessary stress and harm to the animal. It is best to cook the lobster immediately after purchase.

4. How do I store a live lobster before cooking?

If you need to store a live lobster for a short period before cooking, keep it in a cool, moist environment. Place the lobster in a container with a damp cloth or seaweed and store it in the refrigerator.

5. Can I reuse the lobster shell for making stock?

Yes, the lobster shell can be used to make a flavorful seafood stock. Simply simmer the shell in water with aromatic vegetables and herbs for about an hour, then strain the liquid and use it as a base for soups, sauces, or risotto.

6. How long can I keep cooked lobster in the refrigerator?

Cooked lobster can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Make sure to place the lobster meat in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to maintain its freshness.


Cooking a lobster may seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge and techniques, it can be a rewarding culinary experience. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can confidently select, prepare, cook, and serve a delicious lobster dish. Enjoy!

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