How To Cook Live Lobsters

How to cook live lobsters

Learn How to Store Live Lobsters Learn How To Boil Lobster
Before You Begin Cooking Lobster Learn How To Steam Lobster
What Size Pot To Cook Lobster Learn How To Grill Lobster
Learn How To Kill Lobsters Humanely Learn How To Boil Jumbo Lobster
Learn How To Crack Open a Lobster  

Here's a fun fact: 50% of people who purchase live lobsters don't actually know the proper way to cook them! If this is you, don't feel bad! You are not alone, and we can help! Ever since Maine Lobster Now™ first opened its doors, our customers have been asking us how to perfectly boil, steam, or grill their live lobsters. Cooking and handling live lobsters is part of the fun! We recommend that you start by searching for the perfect Maine lobster within our huge inventory of regular or jumbo lobsters and our mouth-watering lobster dinner side dishes!

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How To Store Live Lobsters Properly Until You're Ready To Cook

It's very important to store your lobsters properly so they don't spoil prior to cooking them. If they are not alive when its time to cook, then the meat will not be edible. The two most important things to keep in mind that keep lobsters alive are temperature and moisture. Here is a list of "Do's and Don'ts". Please keep in mind we guarantee all lobsters will be alive upon arrival, storing lobsters longer than that would be at your own risk. With that said we can give you the best practices for the most successful event! If you have to store lobsters more than 24 hours, we recommend a 2 lb lobster or larger...the larger the better. These larger lobsters hold their temperature and moisture better than smaller lobsters because of their thicker shell. In some wholesale shipment, select sizes (2 lb and larger) will actually live over 48 hours in transit, so 24 hours is a pretty safe bet if stored properly for these sizes.

Lobster Storage Do's

  • Put the entire box in the refrigerator or walk-in cooler. If there isn't room then you can replace the frozen gel packs and keep the box in a cool place. Another great technique is to put the lobsters in a refrigerator door with the seaweed we sent.
  • Please take your time choosing your delivery date, lobsters should be cooked the same day that you receive them.
  • Use the same saltwater seaweed or soaked newspaper to keep damp.
  • 40 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for storage.
  • For extra storage time, we recommend purchasing extra seaweed.

Lobster Storage Don'ts

  • Do not put ice on the lobsters, freshwater kills lobsters.
  • Do not put in the bathtub, freshwater kills lobsters.
  • Do not leave your box in the sun.
  • Do not throw away a brown or black lobster! A lobster's natural color is black or brown. It is common to expect lobster to arrive red, this is not true. Lobsters only turn red when they are cooked. Live Lobsters can be as dark as black depending on the time of year and the last time the lobster molted.

Lobster Storage Box


Getting Ready To Cook - Things You Should Know Before You Start Cooking Lobsters

Perfectly cooked lobster is very delicious and a great way to impress your guests. However, if not done properly it can be a great expense and ruin the entire evening. We make live lobsters easy to cook. Steaming and boiling are the two most common ways to cook lobsters. In the winter, lobsters have a harder shell and therefore require more time to cook. In the summer, the lobsters have a softer shell and require less time. It's always best to under cook your lobster than to overcook. Also it's important to cool your lobsters when you are done boiling or steaming so they stop cooking. It's very common for people to leave the steaming lobsters in the pot and they continue to cook even taken off the stove or flame which will ruin your lobster. We recommend spraying with fresh water using the hose in your sink or even your outside hose for events.



Lobster Cooking Pot

What Sized Lobster Pot?

Whether you steam or boil, pick a pot with lots of room. Do not crowd the lobsters in the pot as the heat will not circulate evenly around the lobsters. If you do not have a big pot, you may cook lobsters in batches, using a couple of pots. A 4-5 quart soup pot will work well for a couple of small lobsters. A 20-quart pot will cook about 6 of the 1.5 lb lobsters. The pot does not have to be heavy-duty as water will actually boil faster in a lighter gauge metal pot. Whether you choose to cook on the stove or use an outdoor lobster cooker, using a stainless or aluminum cooking pot isn't important. For larger events using outdoor cookers, we recommend aluminum to save money because the burner will actually scorch the bottom of the pot, for home cookware please use your own preference.


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.
  • If you have a lobster that is not moving, set it on its back for a couple of minutes to see if it starts to move. If your Maine lobster does not revive within a couple of minutes then it is certainly dead, then do not cook the lobster and let us know as soon as you discover the loss. In this unlikely event, please lay the lobster on its back and take a picture and email customer service with photos for a refund. Including an invoice number will expedite the refund process.




How To Kill Live Lobsters Humanely

We know that killing a creature at home can be very uncomfortable for many people. If you follow our recommendations there will be nothing to get squeamish about. This can be a fun experience for the whole family without having to separate someone who may feel uncomfortable about the event. We want to include people who feel this way and educate them so they know that every part of this process is humane for the lobster. There are some common misconceptions we would like to clear up right away.

How to Put a Lobster to Sleep

  • Before you begin cooking any live lobster, please place the lobsters in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to kill the lobsters humanely. This puts a lobster to sleep before it actually dies. This way there is no way a lobster could 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.

Do Lobsters Scream When Put Into Boiling Water? - NO!

Lobster cannot “scream” because lobsters have no throat, no vocal cords, no lungs, so how could they scream at all? The fact is that the noise is caused by air trapped in the shell. When heated the air expands and forces itself out through small gaps, causing the sound – sort of like when you force air out between your tightly clenched lips. You have nothing to worry about, this is a normal part of cooking lobsters.

How To Boil Live Lobster

We strongly recommend boiling lobsters. This is the easiest technique for beginners. This is the best way to boil in that saltwater flavor that you love by using sea salt in the cooking water. The water actually adds weight to the lobster meat while some methods tend to dry out the lobster meat. We actually have an industrial style cooker and we boil 100 lbs of lobsters at a time! We boil them! You should trust our 30 years of experience! So please follow our easy instructions below for a perfectly boiled lobster!


Lobster Boiling Instructions:


  1. Fill your large lobster pot with water. Allow three quarts of water per 1.5 pounds of lobster, lobster should be totally submerged in water.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of Maine Sea Salt for each gallon of water. (4 quarts = 1 gallon). This adds significant flavor to the lobsters.
  3. Bring the saltwater to a rolling boil.
  4. Put your live lobsters in one at a time using gloves or tongs. Do not cover.
  5. Stir the lobsters halfway through boiling. (cooking times below)
  6. Boiled lobsters will be bright red when done.
  7. Place boiled lobsters in cool water or let stand for 3-5 minutes before serving.

How To Boil Live Lobsters

Times Can Vary Depending on Actual Size - For Safe Consumption Cook to an Interal Temp of >=165 Degrees Fahrenheit
1.0 lb
1.25 lb
1.5 lb
2.0 lb
2.5 lb
3.0 lb
8 minutes or 165 Degrees F
9-10 minutes or 165 Degrees F
12 minutes or 165 Degrees F
14-16 minutes or 165 Degrees F
16-18 minutes or 165 Degrees F
20 + minutes or 165 Degrees F

How To Steam Live Lobster

Steaming lobsters is a great way to cook also. Its arguably the most traditional way but nobody will really know. When you pull the cover off that lobster pot everyone will know you have some lobsters cooking! This is a great way to add some 'wow' effect to your party! Another great benefit to steaming is lobsters are actually cooking at a higher temperature so they cook faster! Another pro to steaming lobsters is that you don't need to wait for your water to boil, we all know "a watch-pot never boils"! Some people like to steam is so they can add seaweed or other seafood in the mix to have a seafood boil. We aren't going to get into these details because different foods have different cooking times and temperatures, so if you are going to mix in other items, please make sure you know what you are doing!

How To Steam Live Lobsters

Lobster Steaming Instructions:


  1. Pour 2 inches of water into a pot, including Maine sea salt if using freshwater.
  2. Add seaweed if desired.
  3. Bring water to a heavy boil.
  4. Using gloves or tongs, place the Maine lobsters into the pot, cover tightly.
  5. When the water returns to a heavy boil, turn the heat down to a rolling boil and start the timer.
  6. Steam lobsters for 9 minutes for the first pound, and add 4 minutes for each additional pound. (See Steaming Times Below)
  7. Steamed lobsters will be bright red when done.
  8. Removed the steamed lobsters with metal tongs or gloves and place in cool water or let cool for 3-5 minutes
Times Can Vary Depending on Actual Size - For Safe Consumption Cook to an Interal Temp of >=165 Degrees Fahrenheit
1.0 lb
1.25 lb
1.50 lb
2.0 lb
2.5 lb
3.0 lb
9 minutes or 165 Degrees F
10 minutes or 165 Degrees F
13 minutes or 165 Degrees F
15 minutes or 165 Degrees F
19 minutes or 165 Degrees F
20 + minutes or 165 Degrees F



How To Grill Lobster

I recently just discovered how delicious grilling lobsters can actually be. I have always boiled my lobsters, but once I tried grilling them, let me tell you I will grill every opportunity I get. This really adds that distinct 'char' flavor to your lobster that any grilling connoisseur will love. If you love grilling steaks, you will definitely love a grilled lobster. The tricky thing is just like grilling any food, you have to make sure you get all parts of the lobster cooked, which is why some people cut them in half so they don't know to cook longer times on lower heat to thoroughly cook the center. It is common to cut lobsters in half for grilling. But again, just to drive this point home as mentioned before, its better to under-cook than to over-cook, you will really kick yourself when you've scorched the meat. Also for larger lobsters, its tough to give cooking times because some claws are very thick and odd shapes and some tails may be small or large. So please just cook at a shorter time, take a look, if it's not done, throw it back on for a few more minutes. 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.

Lobster Grilling Instructions:

  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 4 to 5 inches above the flame.
  9. Baste the tail meat as it cooks with the marinade.
  10. Grill for 5-6 minutes.
  11. Turn the claw and tail meat over and baste them before cooking another 5 minutes.
  12. Grilled lobsters will be bright red when done!

How To Grill Live Lobsters

How To Boil Jumbo Lobster

How To Boil Jumbo Live Lobsters

Jumbo Lobster Boiling Instructions:

  1. Bring a very large pot with lid to a rolling boil. Add enough salt so that the water flavor mimics the salt of the ocean. Add the lobster to the pot using oven-safe gloves. If you choose to remove the rubber bands before cooking, place the lobster in the freezer for about 45 to 1 hour before cooking so that it’s safe to remove the bands, otherwise, proceed to the next step.
  2. Add the lobster to the pot, cover with the lid and cook until the internal temperature of the tail reaches 170F.
  3. To check the temperature, use a digital thermometer. Place the probe into the top part of the tail through its soft membrane. The probe should go into the meat and not between the meat and the shell to get a proper reading.
  4. The claws take more time to cook in a large lobster so first check the tail with the thermometer, and once it’s reached 170, then check the claws. To do this, insert the probe of the digital thermometer into the soft membrane just above the top of the claw and into the claw meat. It’s important to check both claws for temperatures since they are different sizes and remember, the larger the lobster, the longer it will take to cook the claws. We recommend cooking the lobster until the tail is 170, then removing the claws from the lobster and letting them continue to cook until they separately reach 170. Check out the chart below for further cooking time information.
  5. Once your lobster is fully cooked, submerge the lobster in a large bowl of ice water or a large bucket of ice to stop the cooking
  6. Since the shells of a large lobster are much harder than those of smaller sizes, we recommend using a hammer or mallet to crack the claws.


4-6 lb
6-8 lb
8-10 lb
10-15 lb
20 minutes or 170 Degrees
20-24 minutes or 170 Degrees 
24-28 minutes or 170 Degrees 
28-38 minutesor 170 Degrees 


How To Crack Open A Lobster In 7 Steps!

Lobster Cracking Instructions:

  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.
How To Crack A Lobster

Looking for more detailed instructions on how to crack a lobster? Check out our blog!