How to Cook Live Lobster in 5 Easy Steps

​Whether you’re a seafood fan or not, you can’t deny that a well-cooked lobster is a joy to eat. I believe that fresh, juicy lobster meat is the most delicious version, so it’s usually best to cook one alive.

But how exactly do you cook a live lobster? Some people may be squeamish and think that doing this is a difficult chore, but really, it’s not. The important thing is to make sure your lobster doesn’t overcook so you don’t end up with gummy or chewy lobster meat.

If you want to know how to cook live lobster the easy way, then you’ve come to the right place. Today I’ll be sharing how to boil lobsters in five easy steps and give quick tips to make sure you don’t overcook them.

What You Need


  • 4 to 5 lobsters

Lobsters can weigh anywhere between 1 pound and 5 pounds. Your cooking time will be greatly affected by the weight of your lobsters, so make sure you have their correct measurements before you start boiling them.

  • Water
  • Salt


  • Large pot

Use a big enough pot to hold the lobsters. A 5-gallon pot can usually hold up to 8 pounds of this crustacean. The important thing is that there is enough room in the pot for the lobsters to cook properly.

  • Tongs
  • Knife
  • Large bowl with ice water


Step 1: Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil.

​Fill the pot with just enough water to completely submerge your lobsters. It usually takes about 12 cups of water to hold one 2-pound lobster. So if you’re bringing five 2-pound lobsters to a boil, you need to have at least 60 cups, or 3.75 gallons, of water in your pot.

Add about ¼ cup of salt for each gallon of water. If you’re using sea water, you can skip this step since the water will already have enough salt in it.

Bring the water in the pot to a rolling boil for several minutes.

Step 2: Place the lobsters in the pot.

Once the water has come to a rapid boil, you can start adding the lobsters in the pot. To do this, hold one lobster by its body using your thumb and middle fingers. Lower the lobster carefully into the rolling water, head first, until it is completely submerged. Be careful not to dip your hand into the hot water!

​Some chefs prefer to remove the bands around the lobster’s claws right before submerging it into the water because they think the bands affect the meat’s flavor.

However, unless you’re an experienced cook, I recommend keeping the bands on until the lobsters have finished cooking because they have a tendency to snap at your fingers if their claws are set loose.

Once all the lobsters are submerged in water, cover the pot and allow the water to return to a full boil.

​Step 3: Boil the lobsters according to their size.

Once the water returns to a rapid boil, start timing to make sure you won’t overcook your lobster meat. There are different versions of suggested cooking time for different lobster weights, but I’ve found that the Culinary Institute of America’s chart, as stated in the “Boiling Lobster” guide, works best for me:

Lobster Size

Boiling Time

1 pound

8 minutes

1 ¼ pounds

9 to 10 minutes

1 ½ pounds

11 to 12 minutes

1 ¾ pounds

12 to 13 minutes

2 pounds

15 minutes

2 ½ pounds

20 minutes

3 pounds

25 minutes

5 pounds

35 to 40 minutes

Step 4: Check your lobsters.

​After the recommended boiling time has passed, you may now check if your lobsters have sufficiently cooked. A good way to do this is to check their shell’s color. Cooked lobsters often have a bright and vivid red color.

However, you may discover that some lobsters are still undercooked even when their shells have turned a vivid red. To double check, use a sharp knife to crack one lobster between its tail and carapace. If the meat there has turned from translucent to white, then your lobster has finished cooking.

Step 5: Remove the lobsters from the pot and let them rest.

Once the lobsters are done, remove them from the pot and submerge them in a bowl full of ice water for 5 to 10 minutes. This is to stop the lobster meat from cooking further since it tends to continue cooking even when the lobsters have been pulled out of the water.

When the lobsters have sufficiently cooled down, you can now start cutting them. Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can properly do it:


I like dipping my lobster meat in melted butter and then squirting it with a bit of fresh lemon. You can also dip it in mayonnaise, soy sauce, or any other seasoning of your choice. The important thing is that your lobster is well cooked—not underdone or overcooked—so that all of its flavors remain intact.

Did this article make you hungry? Do you have other tips on how to cook a live lobster in your home? Share them in the comments’ section below. Also, sharing is caring! Make sure to share this article with your friends and family. And then go ahead and enjoy that lobster meal. You deserve it!

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Jack Smith

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