How To Cook and Eat a Lobster

How to Cook Lobster

There are three ways you can cook your lobster: boiling, steaming and grilling.

Whatever way you choose, we at ptownie strongly suggest you follow the directions below on putting lobsters to sleep before cooking them: it only takes an extra few minutes and means you will have killed your lobster humanely.

It’s always better to undercook your lobster than to overcook. It’s also important to cool your lobsters when you are done boiling or steaming, because this stops them cooking. We’ve seen a lot of people leave the steaming lobsters in the pot where they continue to cook, even once they’ve been taken off the stove or flame, and that just ruins your lobster.

What pot?
Whether you steam or boil, pick a pot with lots of room. Don’t crowd the lobsters in the pot, because heat won’t circulate evenly around the lobsters. If you don’t have a big pot, you may cook lobsters in batches, using a couple of pots. The pot doesn’t have to be heavy-duty: water will actually boil faster in a lighter-gauge metal pot.

How to tell if a lobster is spoiled
Your lobsters should look healthy and lively with tails straight and claws up. Sometimes lobsters get tired from the cold temperature or traveling, but at the very least the small legs underneath should be moving.

How to put a lobster to sleep
Before you begin cooking any live lobster, please place the lobsters in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes in order to kill the lobsters humanely. This puts a lobster to sleep before it actually dies. This way, there is no way a lobster will feel pain.

You may then take your lobster bands off the lobster before cooking. If you wish to butterfly a lobster tail, this would be the time to separate your tail and cook it separately than the claws. Simply pull the tail apart from the center carapace, or cut with a knife. The claws would cook about the same time as the normal cook time of the live lobster. (If you plan on butterflying a lobster tail, you will need seafood shears to cut the lobster tail.)

Grilled Lobster

How to boil lobsters

Boiling is the easiest technique for beginners, and, frankly, the best. The water adds weight to the lobster meat, whereas other methods tend to dry out the lobster meat.

  1. Fill your large lobster pot with water. Allow three quarts of water per 1.5 pounds of lobster. The lobster should be totally submerged in water.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of sea salt for each gallon of water. This adds significant flavor to the lobsters.
  3. Bring the saltwater to a rolling boil.
  4. Put your live sleeping lobsters in, one at a time, using gloves or tongs. Do not cover.
  5. Stir the lobsters halfway through boiling. Boiled lobsters will be bright red when done.
  6. Place boiled lobsters in cool water or let stand for three to five minutes before serving.
  7. Serve with melted butter and lots of napkins. Enjoy!

How to steam lobsters

The benefit to steaming is that lobsters are cooking at a higher temperature, so they cook faster.

  1. Pour two inches of water into a pot, including sea salt if using freshwater.
  2. Add seaweed if desired.
  3. Bring water to a heavy boil.
  4. Using gloves or tongs, place the lobsters into the pot and cover tightly.
  5. When the water returns to a heavy boil, turn the heat down to a rolling boil and start the timer. Steam lobsters for nine minutes for the first pound, and add four minutes for each additional pound. Steamed lobsters will be bright red when done.
  6. Remove the steamed lobsters with metal tongs or gloves and place in cool water or let cool for three to five minutes.
  7. Serve with melted butter and lots of napkins. Enjoy!
Grilled Lobster

How to grill lobsters

Grilling adds a distinctive “char” flavor to the lobster. It is common to cut lobsters in half for grilling. Grilling is also a great opportunity to try some butter and spices. I wouldn’t recommend garlic, because its a very strong flavor, but some people do like it.

  1. Prepare a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
  2. With a sharp knife, sever the head at the base of the neck and cut off both claw arms.
  3. Twist off the tail.
  4. Mash the coral and tomalley and add it to the marinade.
  5. Discard of the carapace and legs.
  6. Cut the soft underside of the tail lengthwise, with scissors. Crack the hard upper shell so you can remove the tail meat. Skewer the tail meat so it lies flat.
  7. Marinate the meat for a few hours.
  8. Place the claws and tail meat on the grill about four to five inches above the flame.
  9. Baste the tail meat with the marinade as it cooks. Grill for five to six minutes.
  10. Turn the claw and tail meat over and baste them before cooking another five minutes. Grilled lobsters will be bright red when done!
  11. Serve with melted butter and lots of napkins. Enjoy!

How to eat a lobster

  1. Twist off the lobster claws.
  2. Crack each lobster claw and knuckle with a lobster cracker.
  3. Separate the lobster tail from the body.
  4. Insert a fork and push the tail meat out in one piece.
  5. Remove the black vein which runs the length of the lobster tail.
  6. Extract the meat from the legs by biting down and squeezing the meat out with your teeth.
  7. Use your fork and find the meat in the lobster’s tail flippers.
  8. Try the tomalley (the green substance in the body). Some people consider it a delicacy.

Eating a lobster is a messy endeavor, so be sure you have plenty of napkins on hand. Many people wear a lobster bib to keep the melted butter off their clothing. Do whatever makes sense for you, and enjoy!

There’s more where that came from! Ptownie has more to share about our special town at land’s end​. Check out our 2020 Guide on Getting to Provincetown, MA!