How to Boil Lobster: Get into Some Hot Water!

Learning how to boil a lobster is one of the first things taught up in New England. It is one of the simplest ways to cook and enjoy the pure Maine lobster meat at its most tender. Although this can seem like a simple task, none of the most common mistakes that people make when boiling lobsters is that they overcook it. Learn the best way how to boil lobsters at home.

Your box from Lobster Anywhere has arrived, and the only thing between you and sweet, succulent crustacean satisfaction is how are you going to prepare your lobster? There is nothing more classic than getting out that big pot to boil your lobster.

Before you start melting the butter and getting your crackers out, we’ll walk you through all of the steps of the best way boil lobster and why this is how we do it in the great State of Maine.

Boiling not your method of choice for cooking whole lobsters? Lobsters can also be steamed, butter poached, air fried, baked, broiled and grilled.

Why Boil Lobster?

To boil or not to boil, that is the question. Of the different methods you can cook lobster, there are a few factors to consider.

How to Boil Live Lobster
Boiling Lobster

3 Reasons to Boil Lobsters

  1. Best for cooking 4 or more lobsters at a time.
  2. Cooks lobsters more evenly than steaming.
  3. Makes it easier to remove the meat from the shell

Are you having a lot of people over and cooking a pod of lobsters? Boil lobsters if you have to cook a bunch at one time. Also, boiling cooks them more evenly and makes it easier to remove the meat out of the shell. But watch out and keep an eye on your cooking times to make sure you do not overcook your lobsters! The high, intense heat of boiling cooks the meat quickly, causing it to pull away from the shell. However, if you are just cooking a few lobsters (1-4), steaming might be the way to go.

New England Boiled Lobster Tips

Before we dive in, we have a couple tips on how to properly handle your live lobsters. These clawed crustaceans can be a little frisky and feisty, and you want them to be!

To prevent any splash of hot water pick up the lobster by holding the upper side of the thorax between your thumb and middle finger. Hold the underside of the body with the legs facing away from you, because the lobster has a tendency to flip the jointed tail, splattering water.

Boiled Lobster
Boiled lobster coming out of the pot

In addition, keep the rubber bands on the claws when you’re adding them to the water. The only pinches should be stolen pieces of succulent lobster meat. You can cook more than one lobster in a pot as long as there is enough room and water to cover the lobsters. If you do not have a big enough pot use two smaller pots or cook your lobsters in batches.

The Basics: How to Boil Lobster

Equipment: 

Prep time: 15 m

Time needed: 10 minutes.

Now that the lobsters are ready to cook and the cooking preparations are taken care of, it is time to dive in and boil! Learning how to boil lobsters is one of the first, and easiest ways, to cook a good lobster, like what you can buy here on Lobster Anywhere. With a few easy steps and tips, you will be out of the pot and into the butter.

  1. Choose a pot to boil lobsters in and fill it 2/3 with water

    You want to choose a pot that will allow you to fill it halfway to two-thirds full of water while safely accommodating your lobsters without the water spilling over.

  2. Boil the water and add salt

    Bring the water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt for each quart of water. If sea water is available skip the salt and use Triton’s gift.

  3. Place the lobsters head first into the water

    Working one at a time, place your live lobsters headfirst into the boiling water. Make sure they are fully submerged. If your pot is large enough to accommodate multiple lobster, add the next. However, it’s better to use a couple of pots than risk overcrowding and over flowing.

  4. Cover the pot immediately to maintain heat

    Adding the lobsters to the boiling water will drop the temperature. Cover the pot immediately and bring it back to a boil.

  5. Set up a timer appropriate for your lobster size (chart in article)

    As soon as the water is boiling, set your alarm. Don’t walk away from that pot but do get your butter melting.

  6. Check to see if the Lobster is ready

    If you’re in doubt of whether or not your lobster is done, there are a couple of things you can do. First, the most reliable way is by checking the internal temperature. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the lobster meat is between 135-140 degrees. Always stick it in the underside of the tail closest to the body.

    Another way to tell if your lobster is done or not is by giving their antenna a firm tug. If it easy comes off, it’s done.

  7. Cool down your lobsters

    As soon as your timer goes off transfer your lobsters to either a colander and run cool water over them or transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking. In addition, boiled lobsters retain a lot of water from the cooking process. Use a sharp knife to pierce the body and tail to drain the excess water and keep you from making a mess.

Lobster Cooking Times

How long to boil lobsters?

See chart to avoid over- or under-cooking. For boiling timing, use the weight of your individual lobsters, not the total weight of all lobster being cooked. Start your timer when the steaming water returns to a boil. Time is the same for boiling multiple lobsters in the same pot.

Lobster Weight Boiling Cooking Time
1 lbs. lobster4-5 minutes
1 1/4 lbs. lobster6-7 minutes
1 1/2 lbs. lobster7-9 minutes
2 lbs. lobster10-12 minutes
3 lbs. lobster 12-13 minutes
5-6 lbs. lobster18-20 minutes
Boiling Lobster Time Chart

What if I Overcook My Lobster?

When it doubt, it’s always better to undercook your lobster since you can always add more time to the cook. If you overcook your lobster there is no going back. You can’t remove cooking time so just be cautious. Another option is to parboil lobsters before proceeding to grill them to get that kiss of fire.

Another common mistake is adding to the cooking time just because you are boiling more than 1-2 lobsters in the pot. Just remember to bring your pot back to a rolling boil and regulate the heat. Happy cracking!

FAQs About Boiling Lobster

How should I boil lobster?

Get a big pot ready with 2/3 filled with water, and get it to a rolling boil. Depending on how large your lobsters in, you will boil them for a specific time to ensure their meat is perfect. Put them head first into the pot and close the lid right after to maintain heat.

Why should I boil lobster?

Boiling lobsters are one of the easiest ways to cook lobster. The process doesn’t require any special equipment; just a pot large enough to accommodate your lobsters. This is our preferred method for cooking a batch of lobsters as it allows them to cook more evenly.

Why do people boil lobsters alive?

This prevents unwanted bacteria as well as preserves the meat for peak flavor and freshness.

How long should I boil multiple lobsters?

You can calculate the time based on the individual weights of your lobsters. Our article features a lobster boil times chart, but generally 1-3lb lobsters will take 4-8 minutes, and it goes up from there.

How long do I boil my lobster for?

How long you boil your lobster for depends upon the size of the lobster. Refer to your time and size chart and you will be on your way to cracking into sweet and succulent lobster meat.

What if my water boils over?

Instantly dropping the temperature of your water will stop it from boiling over. You could even drop a couple of ice cubes into your water.

How do I know my lobster is done?

We always recommend using an instant read thermometer to make sure your lobster is between 135-140 degrees. Check the temperature in the underside of the lobster by the tail, closest to the body.

In addition, you can always do the antenna test. If you tug on the antenna and it easily comes out, it’s done.

What if I undercooked my lobster?

It’s better to undercook your lobster than over cook it. Simply melt some butter and heat your lobster up in the warm decadent bath.

What if I overcooked my lobster?


Overcooking everything from toast to steak happens to all of us. Drizzle a little extra butter on your lobster meat. Your family and friends will still be impressed.

Looking to buy live lobster online? Be sure to check out a trusted Maine Lobster supplier–LobsterAnywhere This lobster company has been shipping lobsters all over the USA since 1999. What makes them different is not only their high-quality hard-shell lobsters, but also their attention to detail and care they take in packing and shipping every single lobster.

Recipe By Lobster Anywhere
Course: Dinner Cusine:American Difficulty:Easy

Servings

4 minutes

Preparing Time

15 minutes

Cooking Time

10 minutes

Calories

150 kcal

INGREDIENTS

  1. Live Lobsters (2-4)

  2. Pinch of Salt

DIRECTION

  1. Choose a pot to boil lobsters in and fill it 2/3 with water

    You want to choose a pot that will allow you to fill it halfway to two-thirds full of water while safely accommodating your lobsters without the water spilling over.

  2. Boil the water and add salt

    Bring the water to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt for each quart of water. If sea water is available skip the salt and use Triton’s gift.

  3. Place the lobsters head first into the water

    Working one at a time, place your live lobsters headfirst into the boiling water. Make sure they are fully submerged. If your pot is large enough to accommodate multiple lobster, add the next. However, it’s better to use a couple of pots than risk overcrowding and over flowing.

  4. Cover the pot immediately to maintain heat

    Adding the lobsters to the boiling water will drop the temperature. Cover the pot immediately and bring it back to a boil.

  5. Set up a timer appropriate for your lobster size (chart in article)

    As soon as the water is boiling, set your alarm. Don’t walk away from that pot but do get your butter melting.

  6. Check to see if the Lobster is ready

    If you’re in doubt of whether or not your lobster is done, there are a couple of things you can do. First, the most reliable way is by checking the internal temperature. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the lobster meat is between 135-140 degrees. Always stick it in the underside of the tail closest to the body.<br>Another way to tell if your lobster is done or not is by giving their antenna a firm tug. If it easily comes off, it’s done.<br>

NOTES

    See chart to avoid over- or under-cooking. For boiling timing, <strong>use the weight of your individual lobsters</strong>, not the total weight of all lobster being cooked. Start your timer when the steaming water returns to a boil. Time is the same for boiling multiple lobsters in the same pot.

More Ways to Cook Lobster at Home

If interested in learning about all of the different ways that you can successfully cook lobster, it is recommended that you check out the Lobster Anywhere ‘How to Cook Lobster‘ Guide. If not ready to take the leap into more complex dishes, then a basic lobster boil is the right thing for you! Not to mention it is an easy lobster dish to cook that is sure to impress anyone.

See more cooking techniques for live lobster below and for a complete overview read our Maine lobster cooking guide.

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