How to Eat Lobster and Serve Cooked Lobster

Eating lobster, cracking the shell and searching for the sweet, prized meat is a New England ritual. Eating  live Maine lobster can be a little intimidating. Don’t worry; you’ll be eating a Maine lobster like a native in no time!

Cracking Into a Cooked Lobster

Taking a lobster apart before eating is an art. It involves protecting your clothing with a lobster bib and napkins, and taking the time to crack the lobster open, and remove the meat from the tail, claws, and legs. This whole process can be messy, and it may leave you behind others dining with you who are not so brave. You may have to adjust to the idea of finishing last.

Banded Claws

You will notice the claws of your Maine lobster have been banded. These should be removed before the lobster is eaten, but not before the live lobster is steamed. The bands are placed on the lobster for two reasons: The first is to protect whoever handles the lobster from the powerful claws. The second is to protect the lobster from other lobsters. Lobsters are traditionally cooked by steam or boiling water. Some folks believe putting a bottle of beer or other special ingredients in the water makes for a tastier lobster. For cooking instructions be sure to review our seafood cooking and handling guide.

Lobster meat is found within the claws (large front claws and side body claws), the tail, and within the body where the claws are joined to the body.The tail offers the most meat and is saved until last by many lobster lovers. Remember, the smaller the piece of meat, the sweeter, so it is often worth the extra time to find the little morsels! Knuckle meat tastes extra sweet and is a natural for lobster salad. Claw meat can be used in salads, too.

Save the Lobster Shells

And don’t throw out the shells. They can be used as a flavoring for soup or to make lobster bisque. Note: The greenish-gray “stuff” inside the lobster’s head is called the tomalley. Some people consider it a delicacy. The “red stuff” that you sometimes see inside a lobster are immature, unfertilized eggs. Although red after cooking, before they are cooked, the eggs are black. The eggs are also called spawn, roe, or coral. It’s caviar to lobster enthusiasts.

Get Ready. Crack. Eat Lobster!

Eating lobster with lemon juice or melted butter is the usual way to enjoy a meal. There are many recipes that can be added to a lobster dinner, and we recommend that you browse through some of our lobster recipes on our site for ideas.

Tip for Getting the Meat Out: If you are at home, use a rolling pin to push the meat out of the legs.

Now take the plunge and don a lobster bib and get ready to crack, eat and enjoy one of the most wonderful food experiences ever. Tools to use: You will need a nutcracker or shears, seafood fork or a small fork, bibs and plenty of wet naps.

Crack open the lobster by piercing the underside with a sharp knife or crack with lobster-crackers. Then, gently pull apart the lobster. Alternatively you could crack the lobster first and then bake or grill the meat with butter and spices.

With nutcracker, small fork or picks on hand,

  1. Attack the Lobster Claws First: Separate the claws from the knuckles, then crack the knuckles in half with a nutcracker and remove the meat with a fork.
  2. Twist off the claws. Separate the pieces of the front claws at each of the joints.
  3. Crack the claws and claw pieces with the nutcrackers. Use the pick as needed.
  4. Separate the tail from the body with a twisting motion.
  5. Break the tail flippers from the tail. Using a fork or your finger, force the tail meat up and out of the other end. Beneath the outer top layer of meat is the digestive tract which should not be eaten. Remove the meat covering from this tract (which looks like a vein) and discard the tract. The outer meat may be eaten.
  6. Unhinge the body shell from the body. Remove the “tomalley” (green substance) which is actually the lobster’s liver.
  7. Remove the smaller claws from the body. There is meat in the body at the points where each claw was attached.
  8. There is some delicate meat in the smaller claws. This can be obtained by breaking apart the claw sections and squeezing out the meat with one’s teeth.


  1. That’s great information. Thanks.

    I am having a small dinner party and want to serve hot cooked whole lobster but don’t want to cook them myself. My local grocer will cook the lobsters for me.

    What is the best way to keep them warm for a couple of hours or what is the best way to reheat them without drying them out?

    Thank you.

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