(photo courtesy of Inkwell Bookstore)

This week was my lovely friend Lacy's birthday and she hosted a lobster boil to celebrate the occasion. I'm not sure about you but I've eaten lobster a ton of times but have never cooked it at home. The task always seemed too daunting to me (ever see the lobster scene in Annie Hall?), but it turns out cooking a lobster is as simple as boiling an egg. The Maine lobsters we devoured (some of which are seen below) were cooked in a propane lobster cooker, but you can cook lobsters just as easily in a stockpot or large kettle.

How to Cook a Lobster


Live lobsters (keep them refrigerated until just before you boil them)
(You can add seasoning to the water if you wish)


1. Fill a large stockpot about 3/4 full with water (enough to cover the lobsters).

2. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. You can add some seasoning at this time or squeeze some lemon juice in, if you want.

3. Bring the water to a rapid boil.

4. Remove claw bands. Use long tongs to place the lobsters in one at a time, head first and completely submerge them.

5. Allow the water to come to a boil again.

6. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot and allow the lobsters to cook.

Lobster Cooking Times

Lobster Weight                         Cooking Time

1-1.25 lb.                                  12-15 minutes
1.25 -2 lb.                                 15-20 minutes
2-3 lb.                                       20-25 minutes
3-6 lb.                                       25-28 minutes
6-7 lb.                                       28-30 minutes
8 + lb.                                       4 minutes per lb.

* Note: These times are for hard shell lobsters; if cooking new (soft) shell lobsters, reduce boiling or steaming time by three minutes.

7. General rule of thumb: you can tell that the lobster is done when the shell is entirely red, the tail curls and the antennae can be removed easily. The meat inside should be firm, white and opaque.

8. Remove lobsters from water with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain.

9. Serve with a side of melted butter and lemon wedges. The shells can be saved to make stock.

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2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    more fun lobster facts: 1 lb.= 7 years. liver of a lobster is called tomalley. lobsters used to be considered "poor peoples' food".

  2. I have also heard of starting the lobsters off in a luke warm bath, then they are lulled to sleep (death) for those that feel cruel about putting them in the boiling water. Does this work?

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