How to Steam Lobster: Full Steam Ahead!

You’ve just placed your order with LobsterAnywhere and as the anticipation fills you with excitement, you also might be thinking, how do I cook these tasty treats of the sea? We’ve got you covered with all of your steamed lobster needs. Learn how easy it is to steam lobsters at home.

Hot steam is not the only way to cook crustaceans. While boiling lobster is what New England is know for, there are other methods, like grilling, butter poaching, baking and yes, even microwaving.

Steamed Lobsters
Steamed lobsters by Chris Campbell

What Methods are Used to Cook Lobsters?

In the vast sea of ways to cook lobster, two similar methods reign supreme, boiling and steaming. Here at LobsterAnywhere our favorite way to cook whole, live lobsters is to steam. All you need is a good sized pot, water, salt (preferably sea salt), unsalted butter, and the Maine ingredient-fresh lobsters.

You know what they say, personality matters. Make sure you pick out a mad lobster. It’s easy to find one; it’s the lobster who will raise its claws and flap its tail. The mad, feisty lobster will be the freshest lobster! Just look for the lobsters with claws up and tail flapping. While our live lobsters don’t win any Miss Congeniality awards they do get rave reviews in quality, flavor, and freshness.

Why Steam Lobster?

6 Reasons to steam lobsters:

  1. Yields a more tender lobster than boiling.
  2. Lobsters are less diluted with water.
  3. Makes less of a mess.
  4. Timing is more accurate since the water returns to a boil faster.
  5. Preserves the ocean fresh taste of lobster.
  6. Cooks lobster a little slower with less chance of overcooking.
How to Steam Live Lobsters
Learn how to steam live lobster at home

LobsterAnywhere prefers steaming lobster because it makes less of a mess and cooks up a more tender lobster than boiling. Steaming preserves the ocean fresh taste of lobster. Since steaming cooks lobster a little slower, there is less of a chance of overcooking. It’s a good choice if your cooking lobster for the first time.

Not only does steaming lobster result in a more pure, undiluted lobster flavor, the lobsters also don’t absorb water like being boiled does. In addition to being a gentler method of cooking, you also don’t need any special equipment.

If you are just cooking a couple of lobsters, a 3-4 gallon stockpot will work perfectly. Cooking multiple lobsters? You can always use a larger pot or steam them in batches. You want to ensure the lid fits tightly to keep in the steam and keep a consistent temperature.

Don’t Have the Right Tools?

No steamer rack? No problem! The rack simply keeps the lobsters from overcooking on the bottom of the pot. No one likes a charred lobster when its not cooked on the grill. Furthermore, you could also use a vegetable steamer or even take a colander and turn it upside down. This will elevate the lobsters above the boiling water. For more tools of the trade, be sure to check our our lobster cooking equipment essentials.

Important Lobster Cooking Rules

Now for the all-important steaming times. When it comes to timing, things can get a little hasty. The first rule of cooking lobsters-do not overcook your lobsters. Second rule-do not overcook your lobsters. While we only sell hard-shell grade A lobsters, for soft-shell lobsters you might want to subtract a minute or two from the cooking times. Just remember, you can always add time but you can’t subtract it.

Directions for How to Steam Lobster

Time needed: 8 minutes.

In just a few easy steps you will be on your way to claw cracking and butter dipping

  1. Water Works

    Pick a pot that will accomidate your whole lobsters

  2. The Heat is On

    Cover your pot tightly and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat.

  3. Diving In

    Once your water is boiling carefully place your lobsters one at a time into the pot headfirst with their legs facing away from you. Proceed with any additional lobsters.

  4. And They’re Off!

    Cover your pot tightly with the lid and bring the water back to a rolling boil. As soon as the water returns to a boil set your timer. Steam lobster for 8 minutes per pound, and an additional 3 minutes per extra pound. Refer to the time chart below.

  5. Cool Down

    When time is up carefully remove the lobsters from the pot with tongs. The should be bright red. You can use one of two methods to ensure they are done. First, we always recommend using a digital thermometer. Stick it in the thickest part of the tail on the underside towards the body. It should be between 135-140 degrees. The second option is the tug test. Give one of their antennae a sharp tug. If it easily comes out they’re done. The lobster will continue to cook even after being removed from the pot. Place the cooked lobsters into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

  6. Butter Makes Everything Better

    While your lobsters are cooling off, get that butter melting. We love adding in a good squeeze of fresh lemon to ours.

Steamed Lobster Cook Times

How Long to Steam Lobsters?

See chart to avoid over- or under-cooking. For steaming time, 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.

Another common mistake is adding to the cooking time just because you are cooking more than 1-2 lobsters in the pot.

Lobster WeightCooking Time
1 1/4 lbs.7-8 minutes
1 1/2 lbs.8-10 minutes
2 lbs.11-12 minutes
2 1/2-3 lbs.12-14 minutes
5 lbs.20-22 minutes
Lobster Cooking Times

If the roe inside a female body is blackish and appear gelatin-like, instead of the customary red, it may undercooked. Put the lobster back into the pot until the roe is red. The roe is edible, but can be rinsed out. Learn more about lobster eggs, also called the coral.

When In Doubt, Temp. Check!

When you’re in doubt of whether or not your lobster is done, there are several methods you can use to check. First, their shells will turn bright red. Second, the most dependable method, is to check their internal temperature. Take your digital thermometer and insert it at the thickest part of the tail facing the body. it should be between 135-140 degrees. Your lobsters will continue to cook once you remove them from the pot for about 5 minutes so keep that in mind.

Chef Tip: Give the antennae a sharp tug and if it easily comes off, it’s done. Don’t worry if your lobster is slightly undercooked. It’s easy to warm up in a little melted butter. We always recommend airing on the side of undercooking as opposed to overcooking.

Whether you decide to steam your lobster or go another cooking route, always start with the freshest dock-to-door live lobsters.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Steam Lobster

Why should I steam lobster?

Steaming lobster is a more gentle cooking method than boiling. It doesn’t dilute the natural flavors of the lobster and because it is a slower way of cooking it gives you a more tender result.

What do I need to steam lobster?

You don’t need any fancy equipment to steam lobster. All you need is a pot with a tight fitting lid that is large enough to accommodate your lobsters and 2″ of water. You can use a steamer if your wish, but you can also use a colander turned upside down, elevating the lobsters above the boiling water.

How long does it take to steam lobster?

The amount of time it takes to steam a lobster varies by size. Allow 8 minutes for the first pound and then 3 extra minutes for each additional pound.

What temperature do I cook my lobster to?

Because your lobster will continue to cook even once it’s removed from the pot we recommend cooking your lobster to 135-140 degrees.

What if I am cooking a large amount of lobster?

When it comes to cooking multiple lobsters we recommend boiling lobster.

What if I undercooked my lobster?

Don’t worry if you undercooked your lobster a little. You can always warm it up in melted butter to cook through.

More Ways to Cook Lobster at Home

Steaming is not the only way to cook live lobsters, see more cooking techniques below.

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