Lobster Butter Poached

There are numerous ways to cook a whole lobster, and this guide we will dive into how to butter poach lobster.

You’ve just placed your order and scheduled your delivery for live lobsters from LobsterAnywhere. You’ve already set yourself up for wowing your friends and family with the freshest dock to door lively lobsters, now you get to plot how to cook them. Steaming, boiling, and baking are all great choices, but there are benefits if you decide to poach lobster.


Poaching is especially beneficial to enhance lobster’s natural flavour by adding aromatic herbs and seasonings. In one pan, pre-simmer enough poaching liquid to completely cover the lobster, including herbs and seasonings such as lemon, chives, onion and celery. By the time you add the lobster, the flavours will have blended together beautifully.

It’s a two-step process: while your poaching liquid is simmering, bring a second pan of water to a full rolling boil. Place the lobster headfirst into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then remove and transfer the lobster to the poaching liquid. Cover tightly and simmer (without boiling) until done. Test by tugging on an antenna or small leg, which will pull easily away when fully cooked.

Poached claw and knuckle meat
William Host from Hooked on BBQ butter poaches our claw and knuckle meat on a cast iron pan.

Difference between Poaching and Parboiling

There is a slight difference between parboiling and poaching. Parboiling or blanching lobster is simply cutting your boiling time in half. Poaching lobster, on the other hand, is done by removing the meat from a parboiled lobster and gently poaching in water and/or butter.

Why Poach Lobster?

Poaching lobster meat in water is an easy and accessible method and an elegant and delicious way to serve lobster. Butter poaching should be done at a gentle simmer and never a boil. For best results, this method should be made prepared à la minute or made to order. When it comes to the numerous ways you can cook lobster, you might only think of poaching when it comes to butter poaching lobster tails. With this method, the tail meat comes out incredibly tender and moist.

Lobster Tails Poached in Butter
Lobster tails poached in butter.

Unlike boiling which cooks the lobster meat at a high temperature quickly or steaming that uses a small amount of liquid to gently cook the lobster meat in its shell, poaching combines a little of both. Not everyone has large stockpots suited to boiling or steaming whole lobsters. See our guide for tools to cook and eat lobster.

To properly poach lobster, the lobsters are broken down before hand, allowing the claws to cook separately from the tails. See how to break down a whole lobster. This gentler method of cooking keeps the meat tender while allowing you to infuse flavor if you desire. In addition, it’s also more difficult to overcook the lobster meat.

Aside from allowing the meat to cook at a lower and slower rate, when you poach lobster, you also have the opportunity to infuse extra flavor. Because the head is removed from the body, you can add aromatics such as bay leaves, parsley, lemon, and peppercorn. Feel free and go all out by creating a full court bouillon which is a common broth used to cook and flavor seafood.

Another reason to poach lobster is how it’s going to be served. Have you ever dreamed of serving up a show stopping seafood tower? Many times, the lobster served on this king of seafood creations is poached. This is an ideal method of cooking lobster if you plan on serving it chilled. Go ahead and add some of our colossal shrimp to your order to round out a true celebration of the sea.

How to Remove the Meat from a Raw Lobster

Some recipes may require you to remove the meat from a lobster before it is cooked. Follow our instructions for humanely dispatching the lobster. First run a chefs knife down through the center of the lobster’s body and cut into two halves. Remove the raw meat and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Keep cold in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for no more than two days. Note from time to time we do offer a HPP (High Pressure Processing) raw lobster meat in both tails and claw and knuckle parts.  The lobster meat remains completely “Raw”; ensuring peak freshness for future flavor. It is shelled using a proprietary technology called high pressure processing (HPP)

  • Allows for more creative dishes
  • No shucking required
  • preserves the natural juices and flavor of the lobster meat
  • is one of only two methods approved by PETA and WWF for animal welfare
  • delivers lobster without the hassle or mess

How Long to Butter Poach Lobster?

Lobster Pieces Lobster Poaching TimeInternal Temperature
Lobster TailLobster tails go in first and poach for 2 minutes135
Lobster ClawsAfter 2 minutes add the claws and allow everything to poach for an additional 6 minutes.135
Lobster Meat Poaching Times
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Poached Lobster Meat Recipe

Butter Poached Lobster Recipe

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The great thing about poaching lobster is that it doesn’t require any fancy kitchen equipment. You just need a pot large enough to accommodate several inches of water and the tails and claws of your lobster.

  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4


  • Live Lobsters, humanely dispatched.
  • A wide pot that will accommodate the tails and claws of your lobsters along with several inches of water.
  • Fresh water, sea water if it is available.
  • Colander to drain your lobster in


  1. Lobster Prep: Humanely dispatch your lobster. Twist the claws off from the body and set them aside. Twist the head away from the body. Remove the legs from the lobster’s body.
  2. Bubbling Away: Bring several inches of water to a boil in a wide pot over medium heat.If desired, you can save the head and legs to make an incredibly flavorful seafood stock.
  3. Flavor Game: If you are adding any additional aromatics to your water, add them once the water is boiling. If not continue on to the next step.
  4. Timing Matters: Gently lower the tail or tails into the water. The lobster will drop the heat of the boiling water. Allow the tails to simmer for 2 minutes before you add the claws into the pot. The claws don’t require as much cooking time. Allow the claws and tails to poach for an additional 6 minutes before removing them from the water and transferring them to a colander to drain and cool.
  5. Color and Temp: When you poach lobster, the shells will turn from brown to that resplendent red. Because the tail is no longer attached to the body it makes it easier to check the internal temperature of the lobster meat. Simply insert an instant read thermometer into the center of the meat of the tail and make sure it reads 135˚F
  6. Get Cracking! Whether you’re planning to serve the poached lobster as part of a seafood tower or simply on it’s own, now is the time to get cracking!


If you want to add a little extra flavor to your poaching liquid, add some aromatics.

  • Sea salt
  • Lemon halves
  • Bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Author: Lobster Louie
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Poach
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

From Dock to Door

Regardless of whether you decide to poach lobster, boil or steam lobster, or even microwave lobster, the outcome of your cook always starts with the freshest live lobsters available. Our live Maine-grade A lobsters are caught daily off of the cold, rocky coast of Maine and shipped the next day.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Poach Lobster

Why should I poach lobster?

Poaching lobster requires less water than boiling and a lower temperature resulting in tender, succulent meat that you are less likely to over-cook. You don’t need as deep of a pot as boiling or steaming lobster because you are only cooking the claws and the tail.

How long do I poach lobster for?

The total time to poach the lobster is about 8-10 minutes. You add the tail first before adding the claws as the tail takes a little longer to cook.

How do I know when my lobster is done cooking?

The shells will turn bright red, and the internal temperature of the tail meat will be 140 degrees.

What equipment do I need to poach lobster?

The only thing you need to poach a whole lobster is a wide pot big enough to accommodate the tails and claws, along with a couple inches of water. See our lobster tools post.

Can I use the rest of the lobster?

Save the head and legs of your lobster to make a rich and flavorful seafood stock.

More Lobster Cooking Ideas

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