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How to Cook Lobster

Whether boiling or steaming, preparing a lobster feast doesn’t have to take all day.

By Sasha Weilbaker
Sep 21, 2023
how to cook lobster
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We all have traditions around the holidays. For many, a lobster feast surrounded by friends and family is one of them.

However, shopping for, storing, and cooking lobster is an intimidating task for many. Our team compiled a guide to all of the above,  so that your holiday feast goes, well, swimmingly.

How to Shop for Lobster

While most grocery stores do carry lobster, the best place to buy lobster is from your local seafood market. You can be assured that lobsters from a local market will be fresh, and can even talk to a store representative for information about where the lobster was caught.. If you live in a place where lobster isn’t available locally, such as the west coast of the United States, opt for frozen lobster tails, or choose a source online that will ship them to you.

When selecting your lobster, look for one that has all of its body parts intact, and that doesn’t have visible cracks in its shell. The best time to shop for lobster is the day you’re intending to cook it, as lobsters only live for approximately a day and a half once removed from seawater. Once you’ve transported your lobster home, store them in the refrigerator covered in damp paper towels or a paper bag.

Why Does Lobster Need to Be Cooked Alive?

Lobsters need to be boiled alive to minimize the risk of food poisoning from bacteria that lives on the flesh of each lobster.

How to Boil Lobster

The typical rule of thumb is to boil your lobster for between 5 and 14 minutes, depending on its size. 1-pound lobsters can be boiled for around 5 minutes, 1 ¼ pound lobsters for 7 minutes, 1 ½-pound lobsters for 8, and 2 to 3 pound lobsters for 10 to 12 minutes.

Step 1: Gather Materials

To boil your lobster, you’ll need a large stock pot, sea salt, a pair of tongs, and a plate or strainer for the lobster to cool and drain after cooking.

Step 2: Prepare the Stock Pot

When you’re ready to start boiling your lobster, bring the stock pot of salted water to a boil. The stock pot should be filled ¾ of the way full.

Step 3: Cook the Lobster

Once the salted water is boiling, grab the lobster by its torso and lower it into the pot with your hands or tongs. Boil the lobster for the time recommended based on size.

Step 4: Cool and Drain

When the lobster is finished cooking, remove it with the tongs and set it on a plate or in a strainer to cool.

How to Steam Lobster

Many like to steam their lobsters to achieve slightly more tender meat than that of the traditional boiled lobster. Some also say that steaming lobster preserves its flavor.

On the flip side, steaming your lobster takes a bit longer than boiling, at ten minutes per pound of lobster.

Step 1: Gather Materials

To steam your lobster, you’ll need a generous amount of sea salt, a large stock pot, steamer basket, tongs, and a plate or strainer to allow your lobster to cool.

Step 2: Fill the Stock Pot

Fill the stock pot with just 2 or three inches of water, and season it with sea salt. Bring the water to a boil.

Step 3: Add the Lobsters

Once the water is boiling, add the lobsters to the steamer basket. If room allows, stack your lobsters one on top of the other, and seal them in with a tight fitting lid. Let the lobsters steam for the recommended time.

Step 4: Remove and Cool

When ready, remove the lobsters with tongs and let them cool on a plate or in a strainer.

How to Cook Lobster Tails

For many, meaty lobster tails are the best part of the lobster, and can be easily purchased frozen. While there are many ways to cook lobster tails, today we’ll be focusing on boiling the tails when purchased frozen.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Just like boiling and steaming a whole lobster, you’ll need a large Stock Pot, tongs, sea salt, and a plate or strainer for cooling.

Step 2: Prepare the Stock Pot

Fill the Stock Pot with enough water to cover all of the lobster tails you’ll be cooking. Season the water with sea salt, and bring it to a boil.

Step 3: Cook the Lobster Tails

Add the tails to the pot, and cook for the recommended time (1 minute per ounce of lobster tail).

Step 4: Drain and Cool

Drain the water from the pot and allow for the tails to cool.

Additional Lobster Cooking Tips

While cooking lobsters is relatively simple, there are a few tricks you can only learn from experience. Keep the below tips in mind to achieve perfectly flavored, tender meat on the first try.

Tip 1: Don’t Oversalt the Water

Adding salt to the water before boiling is meant to boost the flavor of the meat, not overwhelm it. Many new cooks overestimate the amount of salt needed to be added. The typical rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons of salt for every gallon of water.

Tip 2: Avoid Overcrowding

If you don’t cook lobster on a regular basis, it’s likely that you won’t have a large enough pot on hand to cook your lobsters all at once. A  4 or 5 quart pot will only be able to handle one lobster, so be sure to cook in batches rather than overcrowding the pot.

Tip 3: Drain Before Serving

When boiling lobster, salt water is known to accumulate beneath the shell. To avoid this, drain the lobster before eating. Many cooks cut a hole in the lobster’s claws and hold it upside down to ensure that all of the salt water has been drained.

Ready to Cook?

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Now that you’re ready to get started preparing for your holiday feast, make sure you have the right materials on hand. Our Stainless Clad Stock Pots will last for years, and heat to a rolling boil in just minutes.

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