Our Top 10 Tips for Cooking Fresh Lobster

by Ella

Cooking fresh lobster is a culinary endeavor that holds an allure for both seafood enthusiasts and amateur chefs alike. With their succulent meat and rich flavor, lobsters are a delicacy that demands careful attention during the cooking process. In this article, we will delve into the essential techniques that elevate lobster preparation from mundane to magnificent. From selecting the finest specimens to extracting the prized meat, our top 10 tips will guide you through a journey of creating an unforgettable lobster feast.

Our Top 10 Tips for Cooking Fresh Lobster

1. Storing a Live Lobster

Storing a live lobster requires careful handling to ensure its freshness and well-being until you’re ready to cook it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to store a live lobster:


Transportation: If you’re bringing the lobster home from a seafood market or store, make sure to transport it in a container that allows some air circulation. A breathable bag or a container with small holes is ideal.


Temperature: Lobsters are cold-water creatures, so you want to keep them in a cold environment. The optimal temperature is around 32 to 40°F (0 to 4°C). However, it’s important to avoid freezing them, as it can harm the lobster.


Moisture: Lobsters need to stay moist to survive. You can place a damp cloth or seaweed in the container to help maintain humidity. Avoid submerging them in water, as they could drown or deteriorate.


Storage Container: You can use a large pot, cooler, or a plastic container with a lid for storing the lobster. Make sure there’s enough space for the lobster to move around a bit.

Airflow: It’s important for the lobster to have some fresh air. If using a container with a lid, make sure there are small holes for ventilation.

Cover with Damp Cloth: Place a damp cloth or seaweed over the lobster to keep it moist. You can mist the cloth with water occasionally if needed.

Cooking Timing: It’s best to cook the lobster as soon as possible to ensure its freshness. Live lobsters can stay alive for a day or two when stored properly, but the longer you wait, the greater the risk of deterioration.

See Also: A Comprehensive Guide to Cooked Lobster Storage & Shelf Life

2. How to Tell If Lobster Is Fresh

Determining the freshness of a lobster is essential to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product for cooking. Here are some signs to look for when assessing the freshness of a lobster:

Movement and Activity: A live lobster should be active and responsive. When you handle it, the lobster’s tail and claws should move, and it might make a clicking or tapping sound as it moves its claws.

Shell Appearance: The lobster’s shell should be firm, glossy, and vibrant in color. Avoid lobsters with dull or discolored shells, as this can indicate deterioration.

Tail Flip: If you gently lift the lobster by its tail, it should respond by curling its tail under its body. This is a sign of a live and healthy lobster.

Fresh Odor: A fresh lobster should smell like the ocean – clean and briny. If the lobster emits a strong, ammonia-like smell, it might not be fresh.

3. How to Kill a Lobster

The best way to kill a lobster is by immersing it head-first into a pot of boiling water after first freezing it for 30 to 60 minutes. A short spell in the freezer won’t kill it outright, but it will knock it out so it doesn’t thrash around in the pot. Freezing also helps prevent overcooking. Note that stabbing a lobster in the head before boiling will kill it, but will also cause the lobster’s version of blood, called hemolymph, to drain into the cooking liquid, depriving the meat of much of its flavor.

4. What Size Pot to Cook It In

Choosing the right size pot to cook lobster is crucial to ensure that the lobsters are properly submerged and cooked evenly. The pot should be large enough to comfortably accommodate the lobsters without overcrowding. Here’s a general guideline for selecting the appropriate size pot:

Pot Size:

1 to 1.5 pounds (450g to 680g) lobsters: A pot that can hold 4 to 6 quarts (4 to 6 liters) of water is suitable for cooking one to two lobsters of this size.

1.5 to 2.5 pounds (680g to 1.1kg) lobsters: For lobsters in this size range, opt for a pot that can hold around 6 to 8 quarts (6 to 8 liters) of water. This should accommodate one to two lobsters comfortably.

Larger lobsters (2.5 pounds or more): If you’re cooking larger lobsters, a pot with a capacity of 8 to 12 quarts (8 to 12 liters) or even more will be needed. Larger lobsters need more space to cook properly, and using a pot with ample water ensures that they are fully submerged.


Water Level: The lobsters should be fully submerged in the boiling water to ensure even cooking. Make sure the water level is high enough to cover the lobsters completely.

Pot Shape: A wide and deep pot is preferable, as it allows the lobsters to be fully submerged without overcrowding. This helps to prevent uneven cooking and ensures the lobsters are cooked evenly.

5. Boiling a Lobster

Prepare the Lobsters: Make sure your lobsters are alive and fresh. Avoid cooking lobsters that are already dead, as their meat may not be safe to eat.

Boil a Large Pot of Water: Fill a large pot with enough water to completely submerge the lobsters. Add a generous amount of salt to the water. The water should be salty like seawater, as this enhances the flavor of the lobster.

Bring Water to a Boil: Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a rolling boil.

Cook the Lobsters:

Grasp each lobster firmly and plunge it headfirst into the boiling water. Be cautious of splashing.

Cover the pot with a lid and cook the lobsters according to the following guidelines:

1 lb lobster: 8-12 minutes

1.25 lb lobster: 10-14 minutes

1.5 lb lobster: 12-16 minutes

Larger lobsters: Add 2-3 minutes for each additional 1/4 lb

6. Steaming a Lobster

Prepare the Lobsters: Ensure the lobsters are alive and fresh.

Prepare the Steamer: Fill a large pot with a few inches of water and add salt to create steam. Place a steaming rack or basket inside the pot to keep the lobsters above the water level.

Bring Water to a Boil: Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a simmer.

Cook the Lobsters: Arrange the lobsters on the steaming rack or basket, cover the pot with a lid, and steam them according to the same guidelines as the boiling method mentioned earlier.

See Also: 5 Best Methods of Cooking Lobster Tails

7. Grilling or Broiling a Lobster

Preheat the Grill or Broiler: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat or preheat your broiler on high.

Prepare the Lobster for Cooking: Split the lobsters in half lengthwise by cutting down the center of the tail, through the body, and into the head. Remove the dark vein (the digestive tract) from the tail. Crack the claws and knuckles slightly to help the heat penetrate and cook the meat evenly. Brush the exposed meat with olive oil or melted butter to enhance flavor and prevent sticking.

Seasoning: Sprinkle the lobster halves with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. You can also add other herbs and spices like garlic, paprika, or herbs like thyme and parsley.

Grilling or Broiling: Place the lobster halves on the grill grates or on a broiler pan, meat side down. Cook for about 4-6 minutes, then flip the lobster halves over. Continue cooking for an additional 4-6 minutes, or until the meat is opaque and the shells are bright red. The cooking time can vary based on the size of the lobster and the heat of your grill or broiler.

See Also: 19 Best Side Dishes for Lobster Tails

8. Using a Knife to Split a Lobster

Secure the Lobster: Place the live lobster on a stable cutting board, ensuring it’s securely positioned to prevent it from moving while you work.

Locate the Cross Mark: On the top of the lobster’s head, you’ll find a cross-shaped mark or indentation. This is the spot where you will make the initial cut.

Position the Knife: Hold the lobster steady with one hand while you hold the knife in the other hand. Position the knife’s tip at the center of the cross-shaped mark on the lobster’s head.

Make the Initial Cut: Apply gentle pressure and make a swift, decisive downward cut through the cross-shaped mark. The goal is to quickly sever the brain and spinal cord, ensuring humane and quick dispatch of the lobster.

Split the Lobster: Once you’ve made the initial cut, continue cutting downward, splitting the lobster in half lengthwise. Start at the head and continue all the way through the tail. If you encounter any resistance, use the knife’s weight to your advantage, allowing it to gradually work through the shell.

Clean the Lobster: After splitting the lobster, you’ll notice the digestive tract running down the center of the tail. Remove this dark vein by gently pulling it out.

See Also: 5 Creative Uses for Lobster Heads

9. How to Crack Open a Cooked Lobster

The first step to dismembering a cooked lobster is to twist off the claws. Use a nut cracker or the back of your knife to crack each claw and knuckle and remove the meat. Using a knife is recommended for those with advanced knife skills.

Twist the tail off of the body and use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the scaly shell on the underside of the tail to expose the meat.

Using a fork, carefully pull out the tail meat, taking care to keep it in one piece.

To extract the meat from the leg joints and the legs themselves, you can crack them with a knife and pull the meat out with your teeth.

See Also: How to Eat a Whole Lobster: A Beginner’s Guide

10. What Parts You Can Eat

The parts of the lobster you’ll eat are the meat from the tail, the claws, and the legs. The tail meat can be removed in one piece. The claw meat can be a bit trickier to extract but has an especially rich and intense flavor, so it’s worth the trouble. To get the leg meat, you’ll have to suck it out as through a straw. Some folks eat the tomalley and/or the roe, and if you’re one of those folks, you probably know that about yourself already.

See Also: 8 Best Types of Lobster to Savor


Cooking fresh lobster is an intricate symphony that harmonizes precision, expertise, and the allure of the sea. This symphony culminates in a gastronomic masterpiece that pays homage to the lobster’s innate elegance. With our top 10 tips as your guide, embark on a journey of culinary artistry, unlocking the full potential of this revered marine marvel. Remember, the pursuit of perfection begins with the selection of the finest lobsters and is elevated by the mastery of technique, resulting in a feast that captivates the senses and enriches the soul.



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