Cooking Live Lobsters: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are a seafood lover, then live lobsters can be a real treat for you. Cooking live lobsters may seem intimidating, but trust us, it’s not as hard as it seems. With the right technique, you can cook the best live lobsters in the comfort of your own kitchen. So, whether it’s for a special occasion or just a regular weeknight dinner, follow this easy step-by-step guide to cook live lobsters like a pro.

Cooking Live Lobsters: A Step-by-Step Guide | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Live Lobsters: A Step-by-Step Guide

Why Should You Cook Live Lobsters?

If you are a seafood lover, then you know that there’s nothing more satisfying than biting into a succulent piece of lobster. With its delicate flavor and tender texture, lobster is considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. However, not everyone knows that cooking live lobsters is the best way to ensure that they retain their natural sweetness and flavor.

The Benefits of Cooking Live Lobsters

There are several benefits to cooking live lobsters. First and foremost, cooking lobsters while they are still alive ensures that they are fresh and flavorful. Lobsters are best consumed within hours of being caught, and cooking them live is the easiest way to ensure that they are as fresh as possible. When you cook a lobster that has already died, it can affect the taste and texture of the meat.

Another advantage of cooking live lobsters is that it is the most humane way to prepare them. While we understand that it can be difficult for some people to cook live lobsters, it is important to remember that lobsters do not have a central nervous system. This means that they do not experience pain the same way that humans do, and as a result, cooking them alive is not considered cruel or inhumane.

Cooking live lobsters also allows you to experience the full flavor and natural sweetness of the meat. When you cook a lobster alive, the meat retains its moisture and natural flavors, resulting in a more succulent and delicious dish. Additionally, the meat will be more tender and less chewy, making it easier to eat.

What Equipment Do You Need?

Before you start to cook live lobsters, you need to ensure that you have the necessary equipment. Having the right tools can make the process smoother and more efficient. Here are some essential tools that you will need:

A Large Pot

You need a large pot to boil the lobsters in. The pot should be large enough to fit the lobsters comfortably while leaving enough space for the water to circulate around them. A pot that’s too small can lead to uneven cooking and a higher risk of overcooking or undercooking the lobsters.


Tongs are crucial for handling the lobsters safely. Lobsters are known for their sharp claws that can inflict painful, deep cuts. With tongs, you can hold the lobsters without touching them directly and hence keep yourself safe.

A Steaming Basket

If you decide to steam instead of boiling the lobsters, you will need a steaming basket that fits inside your pot. A basket allows the lobsters to cook evenly without sitting in the water, which can dilute their flavors.

A Thermometer

A thermometer can help you gauge the temperature of the water. The ideal water temperature for cooking live lobsters is 180°F. Over 212°F, the lobsters will start to become tough, and their meat will lose flavor. Under 180°F, the lobsters might take longer to cook and hence likely can be undercooked.

How to Prepare the Lobsters

Before cooking your live lobsters, it is important to prepare them properly to ensure that they are clean and ready to be cooked. Here are the necessary steps to prepare your lobsters:

1. Handling the Lobsters

When handling live lobsters, always be careful as their claws can be sharp and they can move quickly. Hold them by the back of the carapace, between the claws, to avoid getting pinched. If they do pinch you, try not to flinch or drop them as sudden movements can cause them to be injured. Keep them away from other animals and children.

2. Cleaning the Lobsters

Thoroughly clean your lobsters by giving them a rinse under cold running water. Use a small, soft-bristled brush to scrub off any debris or sand that may be stuck to their shell. Check their tail flippers, which can sometimes be gritty. Rinse until the water runs clear and leave in a colander to drain excess water.

3. Trimming the Claws and Antennae

Use a pair of sharp kitchen shears to trim the sharp tips of the claws to avoid any accidents. Avoid cutting too close to the base of the claw, as this may cause them to bleed. You can also trim the small antennae found between the eyes and the claws. If your recipe calls for removing the tail meat, use your shears to remove the first two segments from the tail to make the process easier.

What Cooking Methods Can You Use?

When it comes to cooking live lobsters, there are several methods you can use. Each method has its own pros and cons that you need to consider before deciding on the cooking process.


Boiling is perhaps one of the most common ways to cook live lobsters and it is relatively easy to do. In this process, you need to fill a large pot with enough water to cover the entire lobster. Add salt to the water and bring it to a boil before adding the lobster. Make sure to reduce the heat once the water starts to boil and cook the lobster for around 12 minutes per kilo. One of the advantages of boiling is that you can easily add spices or herbs to the water to give the lobster a delicious aroma. One of the disadvantages is that boiling can affect the texture of the lobster meat by making it slightly chewy.


Steaming live lobsters is another popular cooking method. It requires less water compared to boiling and it prevents the meat from getting tough. For steaming, you need to place the lobster on a steaming rack above boiling water and let it cook for around 10-12 minutes per kilo. The advantage of this method is that the meat is more tender and the lobster retains its natural flavors. One disadvantage is that steaming may not be the best option if you want a crispy skin or if you want to add flavors to the lobster.


Baking a live lobster is a great way to infuse it with different flavors. For this method, you need to preheat your oven to 175-200°C. Split the lobster in half lengthwise and remove the tomalley from the body. Add some spices or herbs and drizzle melted butter on top before placing the lobster in the oven. Baking can take about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the lobster. The advantage of baking is that it creates a delicious, buttery texture and flavor, perfect for special occasions. However, it needs a lot of attention as it can easily overcook and lose its taste.


Grilling is a great way to cook live lobsters as it creates a smoky flavor and gives the lobster a crispy and juicy texture. Before grilling, clean the lobsters and remove the head, legs, and claws. Brush the flesh with olive oil and salt, and put them on a hot grill for 5-7 minutes on each side. One big advantage of grilling is that it is a healthy method as it doesn’t require additional fats like butter or oil. One disadvantage is that grilling can be a bit tricky as it requires the right timing and temperature to avoid drying out the meat.

How Long Should You Cook Live Lobsters?

When cooking live lobsters, determining the appropriate cooking time can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect cooking time:

Size Matters

The size of the lobster can influence the cooking time, so it’s important to determine its weight before cooking. Lobsters that weigh between 1 to 2 pounds typically need around 12 to 15 minutes of cooking time, while larger lobsters that weigh 3 pounds or more may need 20 to 30 minutes.

Cooking Methods

Cooking methods can also affect the cooking time of live lobsters. Here are some popular cooking methods and their recommended cooking times:

  • Boiling: Boiling is one of the most common methods of cooking lobsters. To boil a lobster, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the lobster and cook for around 12 to 15 minutes for a 1 to 2-pound lobster, and 20 to 25 minutes for a 2 to 3-pound lobster.
  • Steaming: Steaming is another popular way of cooking lobsters, and it’s great for retaining the flavor and texture. To steam lobsters, place them in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and cook for around 14 to 18 minutes for a 1 to 2-pound lobster, and 18 to 23 minutes for a 2 to 3-pound lobster.
  • Grilling: Grilling is a great way of cooking lobsters, especially during summertime. To grill lobsters, split them in half and brush them with butter or oil. Place them on a preheated grill and cook for around 8 to 10 minutes per side.

Tips to Avoid Overcooking or Undercooking

Overcooking or undercooking lobsters can result in a less than desirable dining experience. Here are some tips to help you avoid these common problems:

  1. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the lobster. The temperature should be around 145°F.
  2. Pay attention to the color of the lobster. Cooked lobsters will turn bright red, and the meat will turn white.
  3. Don’t overcook lobsters. Overcooking them can result in rubbery and tough meat.
  4. Don’t undercook lobsters. Undercooked lobsters can be dangerous and may cause food poisoning.
  5. When in doubt, ask a professional for help. They can give you more information on the best cooking methods for your lobsters.

How to Serve and Enjoy Your Lobsters

After cooking your live lobsters to perfection using our step-by-step guide, it’s time to properly serve and enjoy them. Follow these suggestions for an unforgettable seafood feast.

Popular Accompaniments

Lobster can be enjoyed on its own, but there are various popular accompaniments that can enhance its flavor. Here are some options:

  • Lemon and butter: A classic combination, lemon adds a bright citrusy flavor while butter mellows out the richness of the lobster meat.
  • Garlic: Lobster and garlic are a match made in heaven. Add some minced garlic to your melted butter for a savory dipping sauce.
  • Herbs: Sprinkle fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon, or chives over your lobster for a burst of freshness.
  • Bread: Serve a side of bread to mop up any delicious juices or butter left on the plate.

Proper Table Setting

Lobster feasts are often associated with fancy dinners, but they can also be enjoyable in a relaxed and casual setting. Use the following guidelines to set the stage for your lobster feast:

  • Use large dinner plates to accommodate the size of the lobsters.
  • Provide a lobster cracker and fork for easy access to the meat.
  • Offer plenty of napkins to wipe your fingers and face as things can get messy.
  • If you’re going for a fancier vibe, use cloth napkins and a tablecloth. Decorate the table with fresh flowers or a simple centerpiece.


Enjoying lobster can be a fun and festive occasion, but it’s important to mind your manners. Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Use your lobster cracker and fork to extract the meat from the shell. Don’t use your hands or teeth.
  • Don’t make a mess. Avoid splattering lobster juices or bits of shell across the table or on other guests.
  • Be gracious and share. Offer to crack a lobster for your neighbor or share your butter dipping sauce.
  • Don’t overindulge. It’s easy to get carried away with the deliciousness of lobster, but pace yourself and savor every bite.

Remember, the most important part about enjoying lobster is having fun and creating memorable experiences with family and friends.

Thanks for Reading and Come Back Soon!

There you have it! A step-by-step guide on how to cook live lobsters. Always remember to prioritize the safety of yourself and the lobsters. You can choose to serve them simply with melted butter or experiment with different recipes. Cooking live lobsters may seem intimidating, but it can be an enjoyable and satisfying experience. We hope you found this guide helpful and informative. Don’t hesitate to come back for more exciting articles on cooking and dining!

Cooking Live Lobsters: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learn the proper way to cook live lobsters with this step-by-step guide. Make sure to prioritize safety and quality for the best results.

  • 4 live lobsters
  • 1/4 cup of sea salt
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the lobsters. Add the sea salt and bring the water to a rolling boil.
  2. Carefully add the live lobsters into the pot headfirst and cover it with a lid. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the shells turn bright red.
  3. Mix together the melted butter, minced garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl.
  4. Once the lobsters are cooked, remove them from the pot and let them cool for a few minutes. Serve them with the butter sauce on the side.
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