Cooking Fresh Lobsters

Greetings HO Lobster Fans!
Last night we had a delicious lobster feast at home, 4 lobsters bought locally, about 1.5 lb each, hard shell.
Cooked them one at a time in 2 different pot. About 10-11 minutes each in heavily salted water.
They came out great but over dinner we discussed different methods for cooking.
The one I am interested in is pulling claws and tails off and just cooking those.
With out the body attached. Has anyone/does anyone cook them that way?
Do you kill them first? How long would you cook them? Advantages & disadvantages?

I’ve cooked a lot of lobster over the years but I’ve only cooked the “pieces” without the body a few times.

As far as how you go about it . . . it depends on where you are on the “killing living things” spectrum.
a) I’ve twisted the tail off live lobster before (both Maine and FL spiny) and it is a little “aggressive” in my opinion. But I’ve done it.
b) Otherwise, you can drive a chef’s knife into the body an inch or so behind the eyes, blade pointing back toward the eyes, and quickly cut down slicing the head in half. It also can feel a little “aggressive” and there is still some post muscle twitching in the tail in particular. But I have done this when I’m grilling 1/2 lobsters for example . . . or baking lobster on the 1/2 shell type stuff.
c) You can also par-boil for a few minutes and then plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and then pull the parts you want. This method is really how you have to do it if you want “raw” lobster meat for another preparation since if you don’t the meat tends to be hard to pull off the shell.

What were you planning on doing with the tails and “legs” (I’m assuming you mean claws and knuckles)? If you’re looking to add them to a paella or stir fry (or something similar) I’d recommend poaching them for a few minutes and then removing the pieces you want in the dish. And honestly it is probably the least aversive of the different methods for both the cook and the lobster. . . . though of course I’ve never asked the lobster to be fair . . .

I’m curious as to why you interested in cooking then that way. It is just to make them easier to handle when you’re done cooking, without further having to cut it up into serving portions?

When you say without legs, do you mean the claws too, or really just plucking of the items that in the midsection/thorax region?

I’ve never tried boiling lobsters that way. I know for fresh crabs, they can shed legs when they panic, and it’s one of the reasons some cooks advise putting them to sleep before throwing them in the boiling water. Without the legs, the hot water can seep into the cavity and dilute the sweetness in the meat. I didn’t know if lobsters have a similar problem is legs were to be removed.

When we make lobsters, we often stir fry them Cantonese style, so this does require separating the body from the tail and splitting both into smaller chunks. The legs don’t have much meat, so it’s often trimmed before cooking too. I can’t imagine legs being worth cooking in their own, unless you mean the claws.

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Thanks for the info, we do the knife in the head when we are grilling them. Have kind of gotten
use to the muscle movement.
The convo we had was around steaming a large quantity for family meals, timing
is always problematic. We prefer the lobsters hot not room temp.
Will think about the par boil method. That might work.
And yes I know its really the claws & knuckles. My youngest liked the “legs” the best when he was
little. It has just kind of stuck over the years.

Have edited the original post to reflect claws not legs. Sorry for the confusion!

So we also do many lobsters at a time for family gatherings (my parents live in Maine) - we are talking 30+ sometimes.

My parents have a giant pot and we just steam them all at the same time. It works great. We do them outside over a large propane burner (I’ll have to ask them on the cooking time since my Dad likes to be in charge when we do this and I’m prone to drinking at large family gatherings so I just come when called to help pull them all out.)

If you want to do this - my recommendation is to buy a turkey frier pot/burner combo that you hook up to a propane tank (they aren’t outrageously expensive). That way you can cook them all at once and outside. For years we have done them with a few inches of water in the bottom of the pot - once boiling full tilt we drop in all the lobsters (yes the bottom ones are boiling more than steaming) - cover, let come back to a full boil - they all really do cook at the same rate (I guess I could see a huge pot over a tiny burner might not create enough steam but we’ve never had that problem).

Yes exactly, whatever pot you plan to use, you need to make sure that you have enough heating power to make it work. You can test beforehand (not on the day, but enough ahead of time to make other arrangements if needed) by putting a fairly large amount of water in the pot, turning up the heat, and waiting for it to boil. If it’s set to maximum heat and it won’t boil, or is taking longer to boil than it ought to, then it’s time for a smaller pot or a stronger burner.

A big pot over a small burner is not the issue, its more needing more space for more pots.
I don’t really like to crowd the pots with too many lobsters.

Outside cooking in January/February is NOT on my bucket list. We do that in the better weather days.
Some steamed, some grilled.

Before cooking, I always put the lobsters in freezer for 15-20 minutes to slow down their activities. Usually cook them in 2 steps. Prepare salted boiling water in a big pot which cooks 2 lobsters at the same time for 3 minutes, followed by an ice stop bath.

Depends on the recipes, if for barbecue, slicing each of them into half from head to tail and add herbs butter, cook them on grill for a further 8-10 minutes. If for pan cooking, all the meat out is pulled out, reserved. For the sauce: seared the shells with sliced shallot (and vegetables like carrots, fennel, celery etc.) in a pan with oil or butter for a few minutes, add wine followed by broth and cook for 20 minutes. Cook the tail for 3 minutes and the claws for 2 minutes in a pan (if you like them not too cooked). Serve the cooked lobsters with the sauce and vegetables of choice (eg. asparagus, leek…).


I’ve steamed up to 10 lobsters at a time (indoors ha!). I prefer steaming to boiling because I find boiled has extra liquid when you crack it. Huge pot or two couple inches of water. Steam for 10-13 min for 1.25-1.5lb lobsters. That’s it. Perfect every time!


Does anyone plunge them in ice . After cooking ?

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Yes, I do the 20 min freeze as well. I was told it relaxes the muscles and makes them more tender.

I never have, but would expect that would be the method if you are looking to do something else with them (lobster roll perhaps)

Too dark and cold for outdoor cooking in these months, that’s for sure.

Though like @Thimes, we too have an outdoor turkey fryer rig that we’ll haul out in summer when we are cooking lobsters for guests. We take the propane tank from our gas grill and hook it up to the burner.

We bought the turkey fryer rig as an impulse purchase at Costco some years back. Steaming/boiling lobsters is the only purpose we’ve used it for though.

P.S. I want to try a clambake sort of preparation in the coming months.