How to Cook Basic Boiled Lobster

Boiled lobster in pot
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    35 mins
Ratings (8)

I grew up eating lobsters, since my mum is from New England, so boiling a lobster is second nature to me. But if this is a mystery to you, here is a simple method for cooking lobster. The one deviation I have from standard practice is that I like to put a big piece of seaweed in the pot for flavor; I picked up this tip from my sister. It's optional, but seaweed adds a nice, briny flavor to the meat. 

What You'll Need

  • 2 lobsters, 1 per person
  • Salt
  • A large piece of dried seaweed (optional)

How to Make It

Fill your largest pot three-quarters of the way full with water -- clean seawater if you are near the ocean or tap water with enough salt in it to make it taste like seawater. Bring it to a rolling boil and add the seaweed, if desired.

Put your live lobsters (lobsters must always be alive when you buy them) one at a time into the pot. You may have to either do this in batches or have several pots going at once, depending on how many you are cooking.

A standard stock pot holds two lobsters.

The best way to quickly kill your lobsters is to put them in the water upside down and head first. They will be disoriented that way and will die without thrashing about.

I do not recommend killing your lobsters before immersing them in hot water: Cutting their shells to kill them releases a lot of coagulated proteins into the boiling water and can ruin the bright red coral, or roe. This roe is absolutely delicious and should be treated as the precious gift it is.

Once your lobsters are in the pot, quickly cover it and wait for the water to return to a boil. When it does, count off 15 or 20 minutes, depending on their size. A normal 1.5-pound lobster takes 15 minutes to cook once the pot returns to a boil.

If you are worried about them not being fully cooked, let them boil a bit longer. Undercooked lobster is nasty. Overcooked lobster can get rubbery, but you really have to boil the heck out of lobster to get there.

Remove your cooked lobsters and place them on a plate to cool and drain. Water will drain out of them, so make sure the plate has a lip to catch it.

You are now ready to pick apart your crustacean. You can either eat it on the spot or pick the meat for future meals.

If you serve it on the spot, do so with clarified butter, olive oil, mayo or do as I do: a squeeze of lemon. I think lobster is rich enough without butter or other fat, so lemon or lime is all I give it.

What to drink? A cold pilsner or lager beer is good, but if you prefer wine, chenin blanc, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, Spanish albarino or Portuguese vinho verde all make good pairings.