Steamed Lobster

steamed lobster on a tray with drawn butter and lemon
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 14 mins
Resting Time: 5 mins
Total: 24 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Yields: 2 lobsters
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
230 Calories
8g Fat
3g Carbs
35g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 230
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 187mg 62%
Sodium 3728mg 162%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 35g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 120mg 9%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 329mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Whether on the stovetop or over an open fire outdoors, gentle steaming is the key to the most tender and flavorful lobster meat. And because you don't have to bring a huge pot of water to a boil, steamed lobster is much faster than boiled lobster. You will need a large pot such as a stockpot or canning kettle. A trivet or steaming basket helps keep the lobsters out of the water but is not necessary.

Lobsters are available year-round, though prices and quality may depend on the season. Most lobsters are harvested between late June and December. They are caught in smaller amounts during January and early spring, so they are likely to be scarcer and more expensive.

Store live lobsters in their original carton or paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours. Add some fresh seaweed or damp newspapers to keep them moist. A cooler with frozen gel packs and damp newspapers will work as well. Never store them on ice or water—tap water and water from melting ice will kill them.

This recipe is easily scaled up for a crowd. Cooking times will remain the same as long as there is enough room in the pot for the steam to move around the lobsters.

Ingredients

  • 2 live lobsters (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each)

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1/2 cup melted salted butter

  • 1 medium lemon (cut into wedges), optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    two live lobsters and ingredients for steamed lobsters
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Place a trivet or steaming basket in a large stockpot and add 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water and the salt.

    pot with trivet and water to steam lobsters
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Bring the water to a full boil. Grasp a lobster around the abdomen, behind the claws, and lower it into the pot, head-first. Put the second lobster in the pot. Immediately cover the pot and let the lobsters steam for about 10 minutes for 1-pound lobsters, 12 minutes for 1 1/4 pound lobsters, or 14 minutes for 1 1/2-pound lobsters. Increase another 2 minutes for every 1/4-pound over 1 1/2 pounds. 

    steamed lobsters in the pot
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Remove the lobsters with tongs and let them stand for 5 minutes before cracking. Serve the lobsters with melted butter and lemon wedges, if desired.

    two steamed lobsters with butter & lemon
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

How to Store and Freeze

  • Leftover, shelled lobster meat with keep for up to two days in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Lobster freezes well. Just pack it into small airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags. Keep the amounts small so that it can freeze in a thin layer. Freeze lobster for two months or up to six months if vacuum-sealed.
  • If you don't have a vacuum sealer, try this trick with zip-close bags: Put the lobster in a small freezer bag and partially seal it, leaving a small opening. Lower the bag of lobster meat in a pot of water, just up to the top of the bag. The water pressure will force the air out the opening. Finish sealing the bag and freeze.

Tips

  • When shopping, choose lobsters that are lively and somewhat active. Their tails will curl when lifted, and they should move their legs and claws vigorously. Avoid lobsters with missing or partially missing antennae. Lobsters sometimes nibble on each other when kept in a tank or lobster pound for too long.
  • Choose a hard-shelled lobster if possible. Soft-shell lobsters, typically caught between July and late September, are lobsters that have recently molted, so they have new, thinner shells, which gives them room to grow and a bit less meat than hard-shell lobsters. 
  • To keep the lobsters from flailing as you add them to the pot, you can sedate them slightly by putting them in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes before you begin to cook.

How To Use Lobster Meat

Lobster is wonderful served hot from the shell dipped in butter with a squeeze of lemon, but there are many more ways to enjoy it. Here are some excellent ideas:

How Much Meat Do You Get From One Lobster?

A 1 1/2-pound lobster (hard-shell) will yield about 5 to 6 ounces of meat, or a little more than 1 cup chopped.

How Big Should the Lobster Cooking Pot Be?

Make sure the pot is large enough for the lobsters. There should be enough space for the steam to move around them. Two lobsters will fit comfortably in an 8-quart stockpot, while a 12-quart pot is perfect for up to four lobsters. For six to eight lobsters, use a 4- to 5-gallon pot, such as a large canning kettle.

How Do You Know When the Lobster Is Fully Cooked?

The lobster turns bright red, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is fully cooked, especially if the lobsters are large. If in doubt, take one out of the pot after they've cooked for the recommended amount of time. Cut it where the tail meets the body. If the meat is white/opaque, it is fully cooked. If it is still translucent, return it to the pot.