Differences Between Hard, Firm, and Soft Shell Maine Lobsters

When purchasing lobster, many people wonder if they should go with soft or hard shell Maine lobsters. 

Hard vs. Soft Shell Lobsters

Hard shell lobsters overall, are the lobsters you want to arrive fresh to your door. They provide more meat per pound, and will be less messy while consuming due to there being minimal amounts of sea water inside of the shell. Soft shell lobsters provide LESS meat than a hard shell. Less meat allows more water inside of the lobster. This extra water however does make the meat a bit more tender, but the consumption of a soft shell lobster is still messier. 20 to 40 percent of soft shell lobster shipments arrive expired or deceased and can certainly damper the fun experience of opening a live box of lobsters. Firm shell lobsters of course fall between these two on the spectrum. Here at Maine Lobster Now, we ship hard shell lobsters because they are packed full of meat and are the ones that can survive the travel to ensure your shipment of fresh live Maine lobsters arrive in great condition.  

If you want to know more, here is a break down of the differences between hard and soft shell lobster. 

Benefits of Hard Shell Lobsters

  1. They taste delicious and people prefer them for their firm, dense texture.
  2. They cost more than soft shells due to them being filled to the brim with meat so what you're paying for is overall a larger amount of lobster meat per lobster.
  3. Hard shells, yes they are harder to get into than a soft shell BUT with no room for water inside the shell this creates less of a mess while breaking and eating!
  4. They survive much better in transit while shipping because they retain sea water longer and can withstand a temperature change. For example, if the internal temperature of a shipment rise to 42 degrees Fahrenheit, a soft shell lobster may not survive where a hard shell will most likely survive.

Negatives of Hard Shell Lobsters

  1. Tough to crack open, must have a lobster cracker on hand to break through the shell.
  2. It's been said that the meat isn't as sweet as the meat inside of a soft shell lobster.

Benefits of Firm Shell Lobsters

  1. Firm shell lobsters travel just as well as hard shell lobsters do, guaranteeing your delivery arrives safely.
  2. Firm shell lobsters have that perfect in between meat; meaning it is just as sweet as the meat inside of a soft shell lobster but has the tenderness of a hard shell lobster.
  3. When you crack open the claw you won't be disappointed with a tiny piece of meat!
  4. A firm shell lobster lives longer outside of the ocean than a soft shell lobster does making shipment easier.

Benefits of Soft Shell Lobsters

  1. Soft shells mean, the lobster has recently shed their old cramped shell for a new one with growing room. This allows extra water in their shells while they cook which locals say seems to marinate them a bit, making them a little more tender.
  2. A sweeter but saltier taste due to the meat soaking in water inside the shell.
  3. With there being less meat in a soft or "new" shell lobster, the cost is less per pound for soft shells to compensate for the extra water weight.
  4. Soft shells have a new, thinner shell that is much easier to remove for your dinner.
  5. For locals, soft shell lobster is the way to go since they will survive a short distance of travel and consumers will avoid the mess of a hard shell lobster.


Negatives of Soft Shell Lobster

  1. Less meat than a hard shell lobster.
  2. Soft shell lobsters contain more sea water within their shells, thus making it a messy experience when cracking open the claws to consume the lobster meat.
  3. 20 to 40 percent of soft shell lobster shipments arrive expired or deceased and can certainly damper the fun experience of opening a live box of lobsters.

Soft Shell vs Hard Shell Comparison