Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon


Save to Recipe Box
Add Private Note
Saved Add to List

    Add to List

Add Recipe Note

What is it?

When Europeans first settled in coastal New England, lobsters were so plentiful that farmers plowed them into fields as fertilizer. There are even accounts of lobsters crawling onto dry land to escape an overcrowded ocean floor. Once abundant, Maine lobsters are now a luxury.

The Maine lobster is fished commercially from Long Island Sound to Newfoundland. The only lobster similar to it is the Brittany lobster, found on the European shores of the Atlantic and North Sea. Other lobsters exist all around the globe: the langouste of France, the spiny or rock lobster of the tropical Atlantic, and the slipper of Southeast Asia have more of a shrimp-like flavor, and the only edible part of them is their tail. Maine lobsters have a sweeter, more delicate flavor and a more tender texture than these clawless lobsters, and they yield additional meat from the claws, knuckles, and legs.

Kitchen math:

One 1-1/2 – to 2-lb. lobster per person is usually enough. But if you are buying “chicken” lobsters, which weigh under a pound a piece, count on two lobsters per person.

How to choose:

When buying Maine lobsters, make sure that they’re alive. A healthy “bug” will arch its back and raise its claws menacingly, while both a sleepy lobster and a dead lobster will have drooping claws and tail. Always check to see if the mouth parts are moving because the gills located there will be faintly waving for oxygen if the lobster has any life left in him. While a recently expired lobster may still be fine to eat, a long-dead lobster can contain toxic amounts of dangerous bacteria.

How to prep:

Watch our video on the most efficient and humane way to kill a lobster before cooking it.

There are many ways to cook lobster. Steaming lobsters is the simplest method and better than boiling because you don’t have to wait for gallons of water to come to a boil, and little of the lobster’s flavor leaches out. You’ll need a pot large enough to easily contain all the lobsters you plan to cook, and it should have a tight-fitting lid. Add just one inch of water to the pot and bring it to a rapid boil. If you’re near the ocean, try using sea water or adding some fresh seaweed to the pot.

Before adding the lobsters, rinse them briefly under cool running water and remove the elastic bands from their claws. The rubber can impart a slight aroma to the cooked lobsters. Put the lobsters in the pot on their backs. This quickens cooking a little, and the lobsters expire faster. Quickly cover the pot and turn up the heat to bring the water back to a boil.

Cook 1- to 1-1/2-pound lobsters for seven minutes over high heat, timing from the moment the water returns to a boil. After seven minutes, turn off the heat and let the lobsters rest in the covered pot for a minute. If the lobsters are stacked more than three or four layers deep in the pot, cook the lobsters in the steam for ten to twelve minutes. Remove the lobsters from the pot with tongs and serve immediately. Larger lobsters will also require more time over boiling water. Two-pound lobsters need about ten minutes to cook through. To check if a lobster is done, take hold of one of the long feeler antennae, and give a slight pull. If it separates easily, the lobster is sufficiently cooked.

Grilling imparts a gentle smokiness to lobsters. Brush them with olive oil and grill them over a medium-high fire. To keep the lobster’s tail from curling up as it cooks, thread a metal or bamboo skewer through the tail meat before cooking.

Check out how we get every last bit of cooked lobster meat out of the shell.

How to store:

Store live lobsters in the refrigerator in a damp paper bag on wet newspapers or paper towels in a large pan or platter with sides. Lobsters won’t live long out of the water, so it’s best to buy and cook them the same day.


  • poached lobster

    Lobster Poached in Gewürztraminer and Pear Nectar

    This impressive starter from culinary instructor Emily Peterson is neither difficult nor time-consuming. If serving as a main course, rice makes a great side. Two tips: Add enough salt to…

  • Recipe

    Lobster Benedict

    Think eggs Benedict is decadent? Wait until you taste this lobster-centric version from Matt Jennings of Townsman restaurant in Boston.

  • Lobster rolls with dill

    Lobster Rolls with Fresh Dill

    Ginger Pierce and Preston Madson of Jams in New York City let the flavor of fresh Maine lobster sing by using the perfect bun and just enough ingredients to season…

  • Recipe

    Truffled Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

    Thoughtfully selected cheeses mingle to create a delicate, silky sauce that allows the lobster to shine. With a touch of truffle oil, this dish is a huge hit at Steve…

  • Recipe

    Seafood with Romesco Sauce

    Garlicky romesco sauce is best known in Catalonia as an accompaniment to grilled calçots (fat spring onions) or snails, but it is also wonderful with seafood. Its namesake chile—the romesco—is…

  • Recipe

    Grilled Lobster Tails with Spicy Citrus Butter

    Easy-to-make citrus butter is a delicious flavor booster for the lobster.

  • Recipe

    Lobster Salad Rolls with Fresh Peas, Lemon & Chives

    Fresh peas love shellfish. And we love lobster rolls. Everyone has their favorite version, this one is elegant and very fresh, with a bit of lemon and crème frâiche to…


Leave a Comment


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published.


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.