Warm Water Lobster vs Cold Water Lobster: Which is Better for Cooking?

There are two common lobster varieties sold in the United States, cold water lobster and warm water lobster. But which one is better for the home chefs who want to prepare a fantastic meal, but don’t want to end up with an expensive, sub-par dinner?

You might be asking yourself “they are both lobster, are they really that different?” The answer is yes. Very different. 

Let’s explore everything you need to know about what makes each lobster unique and the best ways you can enjoy them.

warm water vs cold water lobster

We will show you…

  • How to Identify warm water vs cold water lobster
  • Which lobster has better tasting meat (by a long shot!)
  • The best ways to prepare each lobster—plus lobstermen-approved recipes

Let’s dive in. 

The 411 on Cold Water Lobsters

Cold water lobster is the most preferred kind of lobster by most seafood enthusiasts (including us). Why are they so loved by the seafood community? Maybe it’s because of their naturally buttery flavor or their impressively large meat-filled claws. The answer is — all of the above.

cold water lobster
Credit: Ribtip BBQ

How to Find and Identify Cold Water Lobster

The Cold water lobster has many names but the most common are:

  • Maine Lobster
  • Atlantic Lobster
  • Canadian Lobster
  • North American lobster

Whatever you call them, it is reassuring to know you are getting the best of the best. Maine Lobster is the more popular of the names and is often featured as the lobster of choice for most American seafood joints. The next time you see Maine lobster on your menu, it’s these bad boys that will make it to your plate.

Cold water lobster is native to the icy waters of the northern Atlantic ocean and is caught mostly on the eastern coast of America and Canada. The Atlantic lobster is easy to spot due to its large red claws and smooth reddish-brown coloring. They are also the largest of all lobsters, with sizable tails that are perfect for fancy dinners. The cold waters allow for the lobster to grow faster and become larger, resulting in more meat with a great taste. 

Fun Fact: The largest lobster ever caught was a Maine lobster that was 33 inches long and weighed in at 51.5 pounds in 1926. Now that’s a big lobster!

Cold Water Eats: The Flavor Profile and How to Cook Cold Water Lobster

These lobsters can be found in the tanks of many seafood restaurants. It is no surprise since the Maine lobster has an unmatched taste. The cold water lobster is sweeter than its warm water counterparts and has an extra tender buttery texture. The meat is the same in each part of the lobster, from its large claws to the meaty tail.  

Cooking lobster at home is easy and just as delicious as going to a fancy restaurant. Even better, cold water lobster is so flavorful that it shines on its own with little need for extra seasonings. Live cold water lobster can be boiled, steamed, broiled, grilled, or baked. If you are only using the tails, you can use the same methods but we recommend you grill or bake them for the most flavorful outcome.

Need a little extra help? Take a look at our lobster tails cooking guide for professional tips on how to prepare and cook your tails.

No matter how you choose to cook your lobster, timing is key. Overcooking lobster can make the meat mushy and ruin the flavor. A properly cooked lobster should have creamy white meat and a bright red shell. 

TL;DR: Cold water lobsters are the kings of lobsters, and there’s no better type of lobster to cook for the classic lobster dinner we imagine at a romantic dinner or summer barbecue.

Where To Buy Cold Water Lobster

Cold water lobster is best bought live and fresh, but supermarkets can’t always guarantee fresh products. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying bad lobster. When buying lobster at your local grocers, here are a few ways to diagnose cheap lobster and get a better product.

For even more reassurance that your lobster is at peak freshness, try doing your shopping online. It may sound strange, but it is an easy solution that gives you quality lobster every time. 

As native New Englanders, we get the best cold water lobsters directly from the lobstermen themselves. Each lobster is hand-picked daily to ensure you get the freshest lobster your money can buy. Buy our live lobster or tails and see for yourself why cold water lobster is the best way to go.

The 411 on Warm Water lobster

There has been nothing but praise for the cold water lobster—is warm water lobster even worth it? For some people it is. Warm water lobster may require more work than cold water lobster, but it still makes a tasty treat. What matters is if you want to put in the extra effort for less reward. 

rock lobster flavor and origin

How to Find and Identify Warm Water Lobster

Warm water lobsters are native to warmer climates all over the world, such as the Caribbean or Australia. In the United States, these lobsters are found off the coast of California and Florida. 

These lobsters also go by many names, but the most common are:

  • Rock lobster
  • Spiny lobster
  • Florida Lobster
  • Pacific Lobster

The cold water lobster is what most Americans might imagine lobsters look like, so it might be confusing to see a warm water lobster in comparison. 

These lobsters are usually smaller and have rough spikes all along their body. These spikes are how they defend themselves since warm water lobsters don’t have claws. That’s right— No claws! 

Warm water lobster instead have these long antennae where the claws are on cold water lobster. If the spines and lack of claws didn’t tip you off, you can also identify warm watered lobster from their black or white spots on their outer shell.

Warm water Eats: The Flavor Profile and How to Cook Warm Water Lobster

The warm water lobster is less sweet and tender than the cold water lobster. It has more of a seafood taste than its cold water counterpart and has tougher meat. While still tasty in their own way, the flavors are no match for the lobsters that reside in colder climates.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy live warm water lobster at your local grocers. Warm water lobster tails are sold mostly as frozen tails since that is where all the meat is located. You can find these frozen tails at most grocery stores, but the quality isn’t always guaranteed. 

When cooking the tails you can use the same techniques as you would cold water lobster—but don’t expect the same outcome in rich flavor. If you choose to grill or bake them, we recommend using more herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of the meat. Paprika, Thyme, Rosemary, and parsley are popular spices that pair well with these lobsters. You can also mix the meat into a lobster roll, stir fry, or even mac and cheese

TL;DR: Warm water lobster is best paired with bold dishes and strong flavors where the lobster is only one component of many and the seawater flavor is somewhat masked.

Should you buy warm water lobster?

There is no harm in buying warm water lobster. In fact, they can be quite tasty if you prefer to taste the ocean in your food. However, If you want a nice fancy lobster dinner with a delicious savory taste, then warm water lobsters aren’t for you. 

Lobster Battle: Why Cold Water Lobsters Reign Supreme

When it comes to lobster, we say it’s cold water all the way. With an unbeatable taste and many different ways to prepare and impress, you can’t go wrong with cold water lobster. 

Lobster Anywhere ships fresh, quality graded cold water lobster to anywhere in the United States. We take great pride in our Maine Lobsters and ensure that all our lobsters are…

  • Sustainably wild-caught 
  • Grade A Fresh 
  • 100% real meat with NO added preservatives

Are you hungry yet? We have Live Lobsters and Lobster tails that you can cook at home. We also have meat-only options if you don’t want to mess with the shells. Looking for a great gift for your fellow lobster lovers? Check out our delicious lobster dinners

When you buy from Lobster Anywhere, you get the best lobster there is. 

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