How to Steam Lobster Tails

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

When it comes to preparing lobster tails, steaming offers a fantastic way to achieve tender, succulent results. This method of moist-heat cooking not only preserves the delicate flavor of the lobster but also allows for a more controlled cooking process.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of steaming lobster tails and provide essential tips for achieving a delectable dish.

Steam Lobster Tails


Before you start, gather the following equipment:

Do You Cut the Lobster Tail Before Steaming?

The short answer is no; Do not cut the shell before steaming lobster tails. Many online recipe posts suggest cutting the tail to expose the meat. Here are four reasons to leave the shell intact:

  1. The shell protects the delicate meat from steam heat and prevents the tail from drying out.
  2. It holds in the moisture and natural juices and preserves the true flavor of the lobster.
  3. The shell gives flavor to the meat, exposing the meat can result in bland and tough meat.
  4. It holds and supports the meat while keeping its shape.

Tails can be cut, cracked and plated when still warm. Moreover, there are other cooking methods that better lend themselves to cutting lobster tails before cooking like dry-heat methods, including baking, grilling and roasting.

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How to Steam Lobster Tails

How to Steam Lobster Tails

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Steaming lobster  lobsters makes for delicate, tender texture. 

  • Total Time: 10
  • Yield: 4


  • (4) Raw 6-7 oz. Maine lobster tails, shell on.
  • Fresh lemon
  • Sea salt or kosher salt. 
  • Seasonings of choice (such as garlic powder, paprika, Old Bay Seasoning, fresh lemon juice, or herbs)


  1. Defrost the Lobster Tails. If you have frozen lobster tails, defrost them by placing them in a bowl of cool water for about 30 minutes. Make sure they are fully defrosted before continuing.
  2. Add 1-2 inches of water into the bottom of a large stockpot. Add salt and place a steamer insert inside the pot so that it is just above the water level. Bring to a boil.
  3. Arrange the lobster tails in a single layer in the steamer, standing them up with the shell curve facing down. Crowding will inhibit even cooking.
  4. Once cooked, take the steam colander to the sink and run cold water over them which stop the cooking process and allow you to rinse-wash the tails.
  5. To serve, crack open the tail and serve with fresh lemon, and dip in warm butter. 


To prevent the tails from curling while steaming run a wooden skewer through them. 

Add a little beer to the water and now you have beer steamed lobster tails! Love craft beer? Learning more about pairing lobster and beer

  • Author: Lobster Louie
  • Prep Time: 2
  • Cook Time: 8
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Steam
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 90
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Sodium: 145 mg cholesterol
  • Fat: 1g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g saturated fat
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 19g
  • Cholesterol: 145mg

How Long to Steam Lobster Tail (By Oz.)

The steaming time for lobster tails depends on their size. Make sure to use the weight of your individual tail—not the total weight of all tails being cooked. Start your timer when the steaming water returns to a boil.

Lobster Tail Steaming Time Chart 

Lobster Tail SizeCooking Time
4-5 oz. Lobster Tails3-5 minutes
6-7 oz. Lobster Tails6-8 minutes
8-10 oz. Lobster Tails8-10 minutes
12-14 oz. Lobster Tails9-10 minutes
16-20 oz. Lobster Tails10-12 minutes
20-24 oz. Lobster Tails12-13 minutes
Steaming times for Lobster Tails
Steamed Lobster Tail Recipe

How to Tell If Your Lobster Tail Is Cooked

To ensure your lobster tails are perfectly cooked, follow these methods:

  • Visual Indicators: Look for a bright red shell and opaque white lobster meat. This visual cue suggests the lobster is ready.
  • Temperature Check: Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the lobster tail. The temperature should read between 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit (60-63 degrees Celsius).

How Do You Steam Multiple Tails?

If you’re steaming multiple lobsters, use a larger pot or steam them in batches. Ensure the lid fits tightly to maintain steam and a consistent temperature. Avoid overcrowding the pot to avoid uneven cooking.

Best Way to Serve Steamed Lobster Tails

Steamed lobster tails can be served hot alongside a flavorful butter sauce. Alternatively, you can cool the lobster meat and use it in classic dishes like lobster rolls, salads, or lobster mac and cheese.

Can you Steam Lobster Tails without a Steamer?

If you not have a seafood cooker you have options when steaming lobster tails.

  • Colander: A colander placed inside a pot upside will work as a rack to suspend the tails above the boiling water.
  • Metal Steamer Basket: This is a fold-out stainless steel steamer that sits about an inch above the steaming water.
  • Bamboo Steamer: This basket steamer sits above a wok.
  • Wok: Use a bamboo or metal steamer inside the wok.

Is It Better to Steam or Boil Lobster Tails?  

While both grilling and boiling are viable methods, steaming is often preferred for lobster tails. Steaming results in a more tender lobster, as it preserves the lobster’s natural flavor and prevents it from absorbing excess water. Additionally, steaming allows for precise timing and avoids overcooking.

In conclusion, steaming lobster tails is a straightforward and rewarding cooking method. With the right equipment and attention to detail, you can enjoy the delicate, flavorful meat of lobster tails in the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’re serving them hot with butter or incorporating them into your favorite lobster recipes, steamed lobster tails are a delightful treat for seafood enthusiasts.

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