Full Steam Ahead! How to Steam Lobsters

by Charlie ~ April 19th, 2009. Filed under: East Coast Recipes, Maine Lobster Recipes | Print Print

Two popular ways to cook fresh lobsters is boiling and steaming. Charlie’s favorite way to cook lobsters is steaming. All you need is a good size pot, water, salt (preferably sea salt), unsalted butter, and the Maine ingredient-fresh lobsters.

Make sure you pick out a mad lobster. It’s easy to find one; it’s the lobster who will raise its claws and flap its tail. The mad, feisty lobster will be the freshest lobster! It’s best to cook lobsters the day your receive them. You can keep a good hard-shell lobster alive for a day or two in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually the bottom shell.

Why steam lobsters, rather than boil them? Charlie prefers steaming lobster because he says it makes less of a mess and cooks up a more tender lobster than boiling. Steaming lobster preserves the ocean fresh taste of lobster. Since steaming cooks lobster a little slower, there is less of a chance of overcooking. It’s a good choice if your cooking lobster for the first time. Cooking for a big group? You can find out how to boil lobsters here.


If you are just cooking a couple of lobsters, a 3-4 gallon soup or pasta pot will do the job. If you are cooking a bunch of lobsters you can get a larger pot or steam your lobsters in batches. Just make sure the lid goes on tight to keep in the steam. A steamer rack is not a necessity. It just keeps the lobsters from getting charred on the bottom of the pot. You can use an vegetable steamer rack inside the pot or an upside colander.

Now for the all-important cooking times. The first rule of cooking lobsters-do not overcook. Second rule-do not overcook your lobsters. For soft-shell lobsters you might want to subtract a minute or two from the cooking times.

Directions for Steamed Lobsters

To steam live lobster: Fill pot so that water comes up sides about two inches. Add 2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. If you have sea salt-even better. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and put in lobsters, one at a time. (Feel free to use a steaming rack to place the lobsters on or just add directly to the pot.) Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Place lobsters in the pot (head first), cover tightly, return to a boil as quickly as possible and start counting the time.

Steam a lobster for 8 minutes per pound, for the first pound. Add 3 minutes per pound for each additional pound thereafter. See chart below for approximate cooking times. Regulate the heat if the froth starts to bubble over.

Steaming Lobster-Cooking Times

Lobster Weight: Cooking Time
1-1/4 lbs. 7-8 minutes
1-1/2 lb. 8-10 minutes
2 lbs. 11-12 minutes
2-1/2-3 lb. 12-14 minutes
5 lb. 20-22 minutes

Lobsters are done when the outer shell is bright red and when the meat is white, not opaque. Again, DO NOT overcook your lobsters. Carefully remove lobsters from the pot with tongs. Be careful, they are very hot. Note: Your lobsters will continue to cook a little after you take them out of the pot. To stop the cooking process, place your steamed lobsters in a bowl of ice before cracking. Now just melt the butter. You can get fancy and whisk in a little lemon juice in your butter. Now dig in!

Looking to buy some real feisty live lobsters! Be sure to check out LobsterAnywhere.com. This company only ships premium hard-shell Maine lobsters. You might pay a little more, but you will get your money’s worth and more. Lobsters always arrive on the day requested, guaranteed, plus they always weigh a little more than the size listed.

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109 Responses to Full Steam Ahead! How to Steam Lobsters

  1. steve

    Do you add the total of all the lobsters in one pot? like if you are going to cook say four 2 pounders would you cook the time for 8 pounds? I am guessing yes.?

  2. admin

    That’s a great question! Actually no– the key is to regulate your lobster cooking temperature. So your lobster cooking time would be about the same as long as you maintain the boiling or steaming temperature. Again, you may need to add a couple of minutes to your cooking time if the temperature is not hot enough. A big mistake is in cooking more than one lobster in a pot, is add too many minutes to the cooking time. The result: tough and rubbery lobsters.

  3. Roger Smith

    I always steam lobsters, but there is a messy problem: once the liquid from the lobster gets into the boiling water is causes the whole thing to boil over. I have tried less water and more water and there is no difference. Is there any way to avoid this??

  4. Donna

    I gues I dont understand your answer. Is the cooking time per lobster or the sum of all.

  5. admin

    It is per lobster. You do not want to add up the total weight of all the lobsters.

    After you put all your lobsters in the pot and bring the water back to a rolling boil you start timing. You want enough water in the pot so the temperature doesn’t drop much below the boil when you put your lobster in. Your lobster will cook faster the more water you have boiling (surface area and mass to heat ratio rules apply here). If you cannot maintain your boiling temperature, you will need to add a few minutes to the cooking time.

  6. admin

    Roger, are you talking about boiling lobster or steaming lobster? If you steam lobster it should not have a boil over.

    Boil overs are common when boiling lobster. You really have to keep an eye on the stove and regular the heat. Make sure you do not have water all the way to the brim of the pot. In the final few minutes you can also crack the lid to allow the steam to escape.

  7. Lisa

    Hello could you explain the prepping to crack, post steaming? Do I leave them whole and is there a vein to remove ( like prawns)
    Thank you
    Lisa in Alaska

  8. admin

    First question— what is your favorite Crab from Alaska? Here are some basics for enjoying your cooked lobster. Don’t forget the melted butter!

    Crackin’ Into and Eating Your Cooked Lobster
    1. Remove lobsters with tongs and place in a colander to drain.
    2. The head and intestines are not edible. Now twist off the claws, crack each claw and knuckle with a nut cracker. Remove the meat.
    3. Separate the tail from the body and break off the tail flippers. Extract the meat from each flipper then insert a fork and push the tail meat out in one piece. Remove and discard the black vein that runs the entire length of the tail meat.
    4. Separate the shell of the body from the underside by pulling them apart. The green substance is called the tomalley, the green tomalley is the liver of the lobster, some consider it a delicacy: it is used in sauces.
    5. Open the underside of the body by cracking it apart in the middle, with the small walking legs on either side. Extract the meat from the leg joints and the legs themselves

  9. Boiling Lobsters

    […] may help. How to Steam Lobster like a Real Mainer-Steaming Lobsters 101 | East Coast Gourmet Blog If I'm doing a clambake (8-10 people), I have a 15 gallon pot I take out back and fill with […]

  10. Jane

    Hi, I have a question.

    I only have a 12 quart stockpot, and I want to cook about 6 lobsters (1.5 lbs each). Do you think I can cook 3 of them at once, and do it twice? Or will that already be too crowded? And how much do you think the cooking time should be? Please help me…

    Thank you!

  11. admin

    You will be fine with cooking 3 lobsters at a time in your pot. For hard-shell lobsters we suggest about 10-12 minutes for each batch. Once the first batch is cooked — drain. plate and cover with tin foil to keep warm (note-your lobsters will continue to cook) & serve with your second batch. Happy cracking!

  12. Jane

    Wow! Thanks for such a quick + helpful response! One last question… Can I steam? Or would it be safer to just boil them? I heard it is difficult to steam when lobsters are on top of each other. Is that true…?


  13. Laura

    Can I steam 2 ( up to 2 lbs. each ) lobsters in a 5 quart pot at the same time?

  14. Lori

    I am cooking 12 lobsters. I am having them shipped from Maine to Montana. I will be picking them up a few hours before I am going to cook them. Will I need to refridgerate them or can I just keep them in their packaged box until cooking?

    Also, I want to steam my lobsters. How big of a pot do I need to get? I am thinking of going to the local school to borrow a big pot. What do you suggest? I am used to cooking lobsters on the back shore in Maine over a fire so this is going to be odd cooking indoor on a stove.

    Thanks for your help!


  15. admin

    First, we wish you would have had your live lobsters shipped from us. Live Lobsters from East Coast Gourmet. In any case, we are here to help!

    First, if lobsters are kept in the box too long, they may not survive for an extended period of time. They need to breath.

    If you have room in your refrigerator– unpack your order and put your lobsters in brown paper bags with the wet newspaper or seaweed they were packed in. NOT plastic bags (again you do not want to suffocate your live lobsters). Keep them in the lower shelves of your refrigerator because that’s the coldest.

    If you do not no have room in your refrigerator you can simply open your lobster box and remove the lid. Put a bag of ice on top being careful not to crush or damage the lobsters. Note — keep the ice in the bag! You can even double bag it. Lobsters do not like fresh water. Keep your lobster box(s) in a cool place.

    As far as cooking your lobsters, it is not necessary to have a giant cooking pot. You can cook your lobster in two smaller pots or cook them in two batches. Lobsters cook quickly. Be sure to check our post on how to boil live lobsters. Have a great Memorial Day lobster bake!

  16. admin

    It will be a little tight. You might want to go with an 8 quart pot to be on the safe side. You want the lobsters to fit in the pot and have a little room. Again, to steam lobsters, you only need to add about 2-3 inches of water to your pot. When boiling lobster, allow 2 1/2 quarts of water for each lobster.

  17. pat

    I plan on steaming 4 lobster for my family. I have a pot big enough and they are about 1 pound each. I should steam them for about 12 minutes, right? Should I remove the elastic band around the claws before cooking?

    Thank you in advance

  18. Pete

    Roger, I had the same boil over (really its frothing over) problem. I put 1 inch of water at the bottom of a pot that is 8 inches high. I placed in the steaming aperatus (probably pushed the water up another half inch). After the water boils and I put one lobster in, if covered it froths over. The only remedy I found for this was to reduce the stove temperature to medium heat and open the lid every 30 seconds to reduce the water bubbles (also loses all the steam). This seemed to still cook the lobsters ok, but it a pretty intensive process. Reducing the heat to simmer seams to help reduce the froth, but I was pretty uncomfortable cooking my lobsters at simmer…

  19. admin

    Yes, this can happen! We found with steaming or boiling lobster that there is nothing wrong with lowering the heat and adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time. Jasper White in his book Lobster at Home, suggest longer cooking times.

    We recently cooked up a 5.5 pound monster lobster. We used a rectangular Chafer pan on two gas burners, added water, some Maine sea salt and brought it to a rolling boil. Next, we added the lobster and waited until the water came back to a boil (about 5 minutes), covered with aluminum foil and started timing. After exactly 20 minutes we pulled the lobster out. We inserted a meat thermometer into the tail and one in the crusher claw. It read 120º. We cracked the lobster and tasted the meat– perfect!

  20. Jennifer

    I am going to steam 60 1 1/2 pound lobsters. If I had a 15 gallon pot, how many can I steam at one time???

  21. Paul from Mass.

    Don’t forget to remove the claw straps before you put the babies in the pot!

  22. admin

    Again, remember folks– when you put your lobsters in your steaming pot– do not start timing until you bring it back to a steam. 12 minutes should do it for the 1 pound lobsters.

  23. admin

    You can take the rubber bands off if you like. Be careful. We don’t bother. We have always cooked lobsters with the bands on. In fact, tests conducted at the University of Maine showed there was no taste difference between lobsters cooked with rubber bands on the claws and those cooked with no band.



  25. admin

    Nope that’s too long. Bring your water to a steam. Put your lobsters in. Now bring it back to a boil and start timing. About 14 minutes.

  26. In Hot Water-How to Boil Lobster Like a Real Mainer | East Coast Gourmet Blog

    […] Should you boil or steam lobsters? It depends. Charlie prefers to boil lobsters if he has to cook a bunch of lobsters at a time. Second, boiling lobsters cooks them more evenly and quicker than steaming. But watch out and keep an eye on your cooking times to make sure you do not overcook your lobsters. Finally, boiling lobsters makes it easier to remove the meat out of the shell. The high, intense heat of boiling cooks the meat quickly, causing it to pull away from the shell. If you are just cooking a few lobsters (1-4) see the advantages of steaming lobsters. […]

  27. Tony

    I am having a lobster bake with 35 ppl. That means I will be cooking nearly 40 1.25lb chicks. Have you ever heard of steaming the lobster in aluminum trash cans? Also, I was told to steam them with white wine?

  28. admin

    Yes, we have had friends cook up lobsters in aluminum trash cans. We will see if we can get you some instructions. People often add a little beer when steaming lobsters. Wine? We would skip, unless your planning on adding mussels or clams to the lobster bake. Your best bet is to just add a little sea salt to the boil.

  29. Tom

    Hi! I’ve gotta admit, I suffer girlie squeamishness when it comes to dropping live animals into a cauldron of boiling water or steam. If I kill the lobster first with a swift plunge of the chef’s knife down the head, will it affect the quality of the finished plate?

  30. admin

    It shouldn’t affect the quality of the lobster meat if you kill it right before you drop it in the pot. Lobsters decay quickly after death, so they need to be cooked immediately. Take a sharp knife and bring it straight down on the head a little bit behind the eyes. Lobsters decay quickly after death, so they need to be cooked immediately.

  31. Murray Berger

    How much should I reduce the steaming time if I just want to cook it long enough to easily remove the meat from the shell. I intend to refrigerate and saute the lobster meat the next day. Thanks

  32. admin

    Hi Murray,

    In that case I would par boil them in boiling water for two minutes. Then take the lobster out and immediately put in a large pot or bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Then you can refrigerate the lobster until you’re ready to prepare the next day.

  33. Mark

    Thanks to your information we enjoyed our first home cooked lobster, in Indiana. I would rather be in NH :)

  34. Steve

    I have a 6 LB lobster I want to steam but I don’t have a pot big enough. Some body suggested a aluminum turkey pan. Will that work?

  35. admin

    That’s a pretty big lobster! Yes, you can use an aluminum turkey pan in a pinch and create your own steamer. You’ll need about an inch and a half to two inches of water in the pan to start. Bring that to a rolling boil and add in the lobster. Then tent the pan completely with aluminum foil and follow the cooking directions in the original post at the top of this page. If the pan is sturdy enough do it on the stove, if not, you can put the oven at 350 and check to see when the water gets boiling.

  36. Michael Storch

    We had a New Years lobster fest at a friends home last night. They had 9 – 2lb lobsters that they steamed in two different large lobster pots. One of the mavens said they had to be cooked for 15 minutes after the water came back to a boil. I found the cooked lobster meat to be too tough. How much shorter time could they have been cooked and still be considered done?

  37. admin

    Were the lobsters steamed or boiled? I would say the lobsters may have been in the pot for 2-3 minutes too long. It’s easy to overcook seafood. The other thing to remember is that your lobsters will continue to cook once out of the pot– unless you immerse them in a bath of ice. Your always better off pulling them out a little earlier, since you can always put them back in the pot!

  38. jamesmcq

    This is the best advice I have ever seen (and followed), in ten years of cooking lobsters. Was always a boiler before, but am now hooked on steaming, thank you.

  39. admin

    Thanks for the comment! Glad you found some useful info here.

  40. JG

    I’m planning on ordering a 6 lbs. lobster and steaming it. What are your thoughts on steaming it in beer? I have a very large pot, but I don’t think there’s a steaming rack. Do I need some sort of wrap to avoid burning the bottom of the lobster? Thank you.

  41. admin

    Yes, lobster steamed in beer is a great option. We usually put in half a bottle of beer to give it a little flavor. All beer and no water is not the best flavor. So make sure you put in some water. It’s nice to have a steaming rack, but not required. The lobsters on the bottom of pot will singe a little, but this is normal.

    Be sure to check out our live lobster selection from East Coast Gourmet. Our lobsters are plucked from icy cold Atlantic waters, packed in refrigerated shipping containers and delivered fresh overnight. Ready to steam, boil, or grill at the peak of freshness.

  42. Christine


    I recently went away for a weekend trip to Newport, RI. I brought my husband back a lobster as a “souvenir” 😉 The only problem is (not that this is really a problem in any way), the lobster is 10.5 lbs. How long should I cook it?

  43. admin

    Hello- great catch! The only issues with the big lobsters is finding a pot big enough. You can also use a roasting pan. We suggest you steam the lobster about 25-28 minutes. Be sure the water comes to a boil/steam after you put the lobster in and then start timing. Again, a big mistake with cooking lobsters is overcooking. That’s why some people claim the big lobsters meat cooks up tough. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

  44. Jerry

    I notice you say boiling is faster than steaming but the times you have published for both methods indicate steaming is faster. For instance, the time for boiling a 1.5 pounder is 10-12 minutes while steaming is listed as only 8-10 minutes. Are the published times incorrect (swapped maybe) or is steaming actually faster?

  45. admin

    Your right! Boiling is faster– the times are a little off. Figure 2-3 minutes less on boiling times. Boiling is more precise to time, but keep an eye on your timer.

  46. Helen

    I need 6 2lb live lobsters for a Sat nite party in Sutton, WV and it doesn’t look like UPS or FedEx has Sat delivery there. Can I get them shipped Friday and cook them Saturday? How to keep them alive and happy?

  47. admin

    Hello– your right. Looks like Charleston, WV 25311 is the closest FedEX location. You can do a hold at this location for Saturday pick-up. But might be too far. Our lobsters are very hearty and always hard-shell. So yes, properly refrigerated, our live lobsters will be more than fine held over an extra day for your party on Saturday. East Coast Gourmet will ship your lobsters your lobsters Priority Overnight delivery on Thursday night for delivery on Friday. Checkout our live lobster menu.

  48. lobsterboy

    Just remember that it is so hard to undercook a lobster. follow the previous advice and get them out of the pot ASAP. Pound and a quarter are the sweetest. Over Two pounds you have bragging rights but the meat is much tougher. Beer is great to add but the sweetest lobster meat comes from the water with cut celery stalks, basil, dill, and salt. (this is the old Long Island way) , And the fresh corn on the cob, (should be fresh, young and small cournals) to be the sweetest, just drop the ears in the boiling pot of salted water for three minutes and you”ll have the sweetest New England dinner ever. Now lets talk about Oysters with the Fisher.

  49. admin

    Great suggestions! Some of our lobstering friends will submerge the lobsters in a batch of ice water to stop the cooking process. We’ve cooked up plenty of sweet and tender jumbo lobsters– and also have had a couple tough pound and a quarters!

  50. Jenny


    I am doing a series of Parties for 25 people over the 4th weekend on a remote Island outside NYC. One of the nights I have gotten a request for Lobster. I normally take the cheaters way out and buy just the tail ready to serve…now i have to steam and serve them on site!!! Something i have never done…25 biguns that need to be kept hot….and don’t even know what to serve with them…i usually make mine as a salad and that just wont fly here….

  51. admin

    Lobsters cook pretty quickly– so you could do this 1/2 hour before dinner. You can wrap them in foil to keep them hot. Again, lobsters will continue to cook if you do not chill them. You could also par boil them (cook them for 3-4 minutes and right before the event simply give them a quick steam to finish them. What to serve? Here are some side suggestions:

    * Macaroni and Cheese (Upscale version of course)
    * Potato Salad
    * Corn on the cob on the grill
    * Mixed Green Salad
    * Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes
    * Coleslaw
    * Corn Bread
    * Steamer Clams

    and don’t forget everyone’s favorite: New England Clams Chowder!

  52. Ken

    Thanks for such an informative site. Your response to Murray (parboiling to prep lobster meat for another day) is exactly the tip I needed to deal with today’s surprise Maine lobster delivery!

  53. Chris

    Hey there. I’m a trucker and just picked up 2 1/2 doz lobsters. I’m driving to va with them about a 12 hr trip. If a lobster dies in route how long or is it safe after they die do you have to get them in the pot?

  54. admin

    How were the lobsters packed? If they were packed in an insulated cooler with frozen gel packs and wet newspaper or seaweed you should have no problem. We ship lobsters overnight for delivery with the same time in transit.

    The key to transporting lobsters is that they should be kept cool and moist. If any of the lobsters have perished and are warm to touch and should discard them. If the lobsters are cool to touch you should cook them up asap. thanks for visiting!

  55. Chris

    They are packed in the styrofoam 12 pack tail down boxes w/ wet newspaper with packs. Thanks for the quick get back !!

  56. Cynthia

    Just want to say, “thank you”. We appreciated the step by step instructions for steaming the lobster – a nice 2.69 # one… he looks beautiful and away I go to enjoy!! Thank you, again.

  57. Brenda

    I would like to steam my lobsters this time. I have heard that the will scream when i put them in. Is this true?

  58. susan

    I will be cooking for our military club at our valentines dinner. Ill be doing lobster tails 5 ozs , 80 of them for a sit down dinner. I have never cooked lobster and am scared big time plz help!! Details would be appreciated. Thank you so very much. Ps the tails will be frozen.

  59. Anonymous

    Thank you for showing a reduced cooking time compared to so called lobster expert sites. Believe me people- he low cooking times here are accurate

  60. Walt Madden

    Boiling/frothing over… all you hae to do is leave the lid cracked a bit on the top of the pot when you’re steaming your tasty lobster. As a second step… you could reduce the temp just a bit.

  61. Leon

    Hello and thanks for your time.
    I purchased a large steamer from Kotulas hopping to steam lobsters.
    Is it safe to say if i was to steam a 10 lb lobster it wold take approx 64 min (10 min 1st lb 6 min additional lb).
    Steaming formulas very s a bit.
    Thank you

  62. Charlie

    Hello. That might be a bit too long to cook a big lobster. The biggest mistake with cooking the big lobsters is people cook them way too long. Moderate overcooking causes toughening of the meat, shrinkage and loss of flavor; while extreme overcooking may cause the meat to fall apart or become mushy.

    You would want to steam it for about 35 minutes tops. Again, we are not familiar with your steamer. If you under cook your lobster you can also put it back in. Believe it or not you can check with a meat thermometer! You would have to stick it through the shell in the tail. The internal temperature will be 180oF (80oC)

  63. Charlie

    Don’t be scared. That is a myth. Lobster do not have vocal cords. The sound is simply the steam from the lobster.

  64. Wendy

    how long do i oven steam a 15 pound lobsta??

  65. Charlie

    Sorry for the super late reply. Wow, that’s a big on. You can steam the big lobster for about 40-45 minutes.
    Test the claw to see how well cooked. If the lobster has a soft-shell you can cut back the cooking time by 10-15 minutes.

  66. Rosemary

    What a wonderful, informative site. I’m picking up two 5 lb lobsters to cook tomorrow. I always boiled or baked them but I’m going to try the steaming this time. I’m figuring 20 minutes should do it. Right? I’m also having steamed Ipswich clams, mussels and clams on the half shell. Can’t wait, cooking for me and my daughter.

    Thanks for all your help.

  67. Brett

    Really enjoyed reading all the comments on your site… I steamed a 1 1/2 lb. Maine lobster this evening and it came out awesome! So glad to hear about so many others enjoying wonderful lobster meat as well! Keep giving out the good information and enjoying the great taste of LOBSTER!! :)

  68. Brett

    Charlie, I believe you meant the internal temp. for Lobster should be 180 degrees F. when done, not 1800 degrees F. Keep up the good work! :)

  69. Noreen

    Wow…a website from heaven! I have cooked lobsters many times but NOT 50. I am planning a surprise clambake for my mom’s 80th birthday and need help with cooking schedule. I am renting to 80 qt pots and would like to also do steamers and corn. Can you help and tell me also how many lobsters per pot. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
    Thank- you

  70. Brook

    Hey, great info here, thanks!

    I’m looking to cook up a bunch of lobsters at a beach party next weekend. Any recommendations for cooking over a wood fire? I’m liking the turkey-pan/steaming option best, I think. How do I get the timing right if I want to really make a lobster-bake out of it, and throw in some clams, corn, potatoes, sausage, etc?

  71. BJ

    I have cooked several lobsters in the past by boiling them and never had any problems. However, I recently came across these instructions and steamed two 1.25 lb lobsters in the same pot for a total of 12 minutes, but ran into some issues. The cooked lobsters were bright red and looked similar to my previously boiled ones, but when I cracked them open they were completely undercooked as only liquid poured out of the claws and tails, and the lobsters were entirely inedible. I had two other lobsters remaining and was able to boil them for about the same time with no issues. What could I have done wrong?

  72. Charlie

    Hello & Happy 4th of July! Where did you get your lobsters from. I assume all 4 lobsters came from the same place? So you steamed two lobsters and they came out watery and then you boiled two lobsters and they came out good? Correct.
    When you steamed the lobsters did you bring the water a strong boil after you added the lobsters? Did youcover the lid tight to create the steam? Did you start timing AFTER the pot came to a re-boil when you added the lobsters? The key is to create a good steam with the lid closed tightly.

  73. Charlie

    Hello– you could do a traditional lobster bake if allowed. You build a fire on top of stones you find at the beach. You would need seaweed and layer in clams, corn, potatoes. It takes some work. Another way you can do it is called a can bake– we’ve had people use metal trash cans and layer the food in the can. Sounds different, but it works great. We’ll see if we can dig up the recipe. Have fun and thanks for visiting!

  74. Denis

    When steaming lobsters, can I use a pressure cooker to steam them? Or just a regular pot covered at the top? My idea was to bring water at a boil, drop the lobsters in, shut the pressure cooker, and let them steam for the required time. But I’m concerned that this method may overcook the lobsters. Any feedback would help. Cheers!

  75. Charlie

    Yes, DO NOT use a pressure cooker. Regular pot works best. Steam your lobster. If you have a steamer basket great,
    (not required), put it on the bottom of pot.

  76. Frank

    I’m a Mainer, and have been cooking lobsters my entire life. Right now I’m using a large stainless steal kettle that holds around 4 gallons of water. The bottom of this kettle is big enough to fit four 1-2lb Lobsters without having to stack them atop each other. I do not fill this kettle with two inches of water for steaming, as that is to much. I put about an inch of water and add two 16oz cans of beer, and NO salt. I bring that to a rolling boil, then add four lobsters in head first, bring it back to a boil, and for soft shells I will steam them for around 9-10 minutes, or 12 minutes for hard shells. I take them out of the water with my tongs, then strain them in a large metal strainer, and eat them hot, dipping the meat in melted butter. Lobster taste best when steaming in beer, and you should always steam clams in beer as it gives you the best taste. I’m not a drinker either, they just taste the best this way. Oh, and someone on here cooked a 5.5lb lobster…..that thing couldn’t have tasted all that great, as the bigger lobsters aren’t as sweet. I once had a 26lb lobster, and the little 2lb lobsters are much better.

  77. Meg

    Can you please tell me the difference between hard shell and soft shell lobster?
    Thank you.

  78. Charlie

    Yes, there is a big difference. Soft shell lobsters are usually harvested from late summer to early fall. Softshell is the term used for a newly molted lobster. There is not much meat in a soft-shell lobster and they do not ship well– that’s why they are offered at such a cheap price.

    How to Buy Hard-Shell Lobsters

  79. Phil

    I am just about to start the process of steaming our lobsters and i want to thank you for such a great post. Your cooking time for my lobsters is going to be 14 minutes and the store folks had said 22 minutes! So, thank you! By the way, I love your WordPress site. nicely done.

  80. Charlie

    What part of the country did you purchase your lobsters? Most importantly, how did they come out with our cooking times?
    Here is a cheap plug for our Maine lobsters: http://www.eastcoastgourmet.com/Live-Maine-Lobster-Delivery/
    Thanks for visiting!

  81. George

    Had lobster last night for dinner and believe that the taste of the rubber band around the claws permeated into the meat in the claw.
    Rest of the lobster was delicious but the claw had a bitter (rubber band) taste. Is this possible? The lobsters were pre-steamed at the local supermarket.

  82. Charlie

    That’s a great question and one of the most debated questions in the lobster industry. In our experience it does not make any significant taste difference.

    The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine also agrees. Their test showed no taste difference between lobsters cooked with rubber bands on the claws and those cooked without bands. The study found that though the smell transferred somewhat to the water it did not transfer to the lobsters themselves.

    Some, however, would beg to differ. We think it is possible to detect a slight taste difference, especially if the bands were old and or the lobsters were steamed or boiled for an extended period of time.

    If you do remove the bands just be careful of the pincher claws; they can really pinch. Ouch!

  83. George

    Hi Charlie
    I e-mailed Bob Bayer – Head of the Lobster Institute at U Main with the same question. Initially he said that you could not tell the difference. However I did receive another e-mail from him the next day that said in another study it depended upon “where the rubber bands were made”.


  84. Kevin from Pittsburgh

    Hi Charlie,
    I purchased 5 1/2 and 1 3-4 pound new shell lobsters from Makris Seafood Restaurant in Coccord N.H.and am driving back home.
    They were packed in a strofoam cooler with wet newspapers and ice packs.They will be in the cooler overnight approx.8 hours and on the road about 12 more.Do you think they will make it or should I repack with more ice in the mourning.The owner said to not disturb them and they will be fine.That seems like an awful long time.I appreciate any helpful info.

  85. Charlie

    Tough to tell with soft-shells. They DO NOT travel well. They are fragile, and week. That’s most likely why the market said do not disturb. We bet you got a good deal. Soft shell are real cheap right now. One of the keys is to keep the lobsters moist. If they were packed in a decent cooler, there is not much else you need to do. Just make sure you do not expose them to standing water (fresh water will kill them). Now if you had hard-shell lobsters– they can last up to 36 hours. Our hard-shell lobsters have traveled as far as Alaska and the North Pole. You can order right from our site– http://www.eastcoastgourmet.com/Live-Maine-Lobster-Delivery/

  86. Paul

    Hi Charlie,

    I’m planning to cook 25 chicken lobsters, 10 lbs of steamers, 15 lbs of mussels, potatoes, and chorizo. I have a 32 qt turkey fryer. Should I cook them together in batches or separately?



  87. Stephen Carmona

    I’ve been overcooking my lobsters. Last night was the first time I’ve had them properly cooked. What a difference. Thanks for your help

  88. Charlie

    Yes, it is easy to overcook lobsters, especially the jumbo lobsters. Lobsters will continue to cook when you take them out of the pot. To stop the cooking process, you can always put them in a big bowl of ice.

  89. Timmy Kulikowski

    Hi Charlie,

    When you steam your lobsters do you start the timer once the water returns to a rolling boil after you’ve put your lobsters in the boiling water (it typically take several minutes to start boiling again), or as soon as you drop them in the boiling water?


  90. Charlie

    Sorry for the late reply. We start timing after the water comes back to a boil. Usually it takes a minute or two. That’s why our cooking times are not too long. Thanks for visiting & happy cracking!

  91. Jane

    Can you steam clams with the lobsters??? If so, can I use clam broth instead of water?

  92. jim

    I have steamed lobster from the store. How do I serve them hot several hours later.

  93. Liz

    Bought 2 lobsters Monday (New Years Eve) and had the market steam them. Was not feeling well so did not eat them. They have been in a cooler on ice for 2 days and I am feeling better and ready to eat. Is it safe?

  94. Ashley

    My boyfriend and I bought two 1.5 lb lobsters and steamed them tonight for valentines day…9 minutes, came out PERFECT. Thanks for the great instructions. Love from New Orleans.

  95. Charlie

    A little different than cooking craw-fish? Or maybe not? Thanks for visiting! Don’t forget, we ship live lobsters to just about anywhere in the USA. See our Lobster Shipping

  96. jim

    can you steam lobster with water and adding a bit of white wine to the water and adding some orange shavings into the water for flavor i was wondering if it is possible and if it is tasty

  97. Gina

    Hi, i’m making lobsters for the first time today! I bought 7 lobsters and made the guy cut them down the middle and clean them. I now have them in the fridge. Will they still be ok to steam since they’re not alive now?

  98. Charlie

    You would need to cook your lobsters up asap. Might be able able to stretch it out a day– but your pushing it. You should wrap each lobster up in foil. Since the shell is split there is nothing to protect the raw meat. Also, I would suggest you grill or bake your split lobsters. Happy cracking!

  99. Charlie

    You can add white wine and beer is also a favorite. Not too keen on the orange shavings.

  100. RICHARD

    What is the ideal cooking time to steam 3–1&1/2 lb lobsters? Mine were overcooked at 17 minutes. Thank you

  101. Treena born on the Skeena

    I undestand steam is very hot, but I don’t want my lobster to suffer even a second longer then it needs to. Whats the best way of taking care of that beforehand?

  102. Michelle

    We are planning on steaming 24 – 1.25 lb lobsters, possibly with shrimp and corn, between 2 large (80 qt ) pots on burners outside this weekend. What would you recommend for cooking time? Do you think the lid to the pot will be adequate for steaming or would you recommend something else. Thanks!

  103. Charlie

    The steam will kill the lobster quickly. The research on whether lobsters feel pain or not is still inconclusive. We do know that lobsters have a primitive nervous system. That’s why in Maine we refer to them as “bugs”. Another option is to put the lobster in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or so before cooking. Be sure you do not freeze the whole lobster.

  104. Charlie

    You want to steam your lobsters for about 10 minutes. See our chart for approximate times. Again, you want to start timing when you pot comes back to a boil and creates a steam!.

  105. debra

    I just purchased two live lobsters 1-1/2 lbs each that were steamed and split for me. I need to reheat…any ideas? Grill, oven?

  106. Patty

    I’m taking over for my Dad steaming 100-150 1lb lobsters for a huge clambake. I have his big Army cookpots, but I don’t know the capacity. I remember my Dad saying that the key was to not pack too many lobsters into the pots. How the heck do I know how many is too many in a pot big enough to boil a person in??? Also, I won’t be able to tell when the 2″ of water has re-boiled, so how long should I “assume” if I’ll be using liquid propane burners to cook with?

  107. Charlie

    You need to have some room for the steam to escape and cook the lobsters. Too tightly packed and your burning the lobsters on the bottom of the pot. Try cooking your lobsters in a couple of batches.

  108. Zella

    I am an old hand at steaming lobsters, but the last two times something odd has happened: all dozen lobsters (all female) seemed fully cooked: the flesh was fine and the tomally green…but there were what looked to be uncooked and slimy black eggs in all of them. Some eggs were coral, but most were black and slimy. If I had cooked the lobster any longer, the flesh would be overdone! What I did was just scoop then out.. but I don’t want to make my guests ill should this happen again and I expect it might.

    Any solutions? (and what was the cause?)

  109. Charlie

    Sorry for the late reply. The black slimy stuff is the beginning of the eggs in the female lobster that have yet to move down the tail. Sometimes they will turn a bright red. You did the right thing not to overcook the lobsters. But the best thing you did was simply scrape them out and rinse out the meat. Granted, it does not look appetizing, but it is more than safe to eat. By the way, what size lobsters to you get and how look did you steam them.

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