Recipe: Boiled Lobster

Serves 1-2

Cooking a live lobster can be intimidating, but take it one step at a time and you’ll have a delicious dinner in no time! Please note this was my first time cooking a live lobster and is written in the hopes of preparing other first-timers for both the process and the emotions involved.


1 lobster (about 2 lbs)


First, come to terms with what is about to happen.

I had a hard time with this step.

I stood like this for several minutes. I was talking to the lobster. Silently, of course.

But … you can only talk to a lobster so long before you run out of things to say.

Next, take the lobster out of the bag. At this point, I’m not sure who was more stressed out – me or him.

If you don’t think you can handle a live lobster, you can have the fish market kill the lobster for you (as long as you are going to cook it right away). I’m considering this for next time. It’s true. I’m wimpy and don’t mind if the whole world knows it.

It’s hard to pick up a lobster when you’re afraid to touch it… but eventually it had to be done.

Bring a pot of water to boil, with plenty of salt

Ways to kill a lobster humanely:

A) Put in head first to boiling water. This is supposed to instantly kill it and is Alton Brown’s preferred method (he’s the guy on Good Eats). I’m here to tell you that you might not want to try this method if it’s your first time cooking lobster. Even though they die immediately, there’s some residual …. movement. Like how a chicken keeps running, even after it loses its head. Except it involves a moving tail. Not pleasant.

B) Freeze for 15-30 minutes before cooking it. This is a pretty hands-off approach which is supposed to make the lobster numb.

C) cut the lobster between the eyes and sever the spinal cord. This seems the most difficult emotionally to me.

Ultimately I chose Alton Brown’s advice which was incredibly stressful… mostly because my pot wasn’t a big lobster pot.

Things were rather tight… which only accentuated the tail issues I mentioned.

After 15 minutes (according to Maine folk) or 20 minutes (according to fish market folk), remove from water and drain.

Snip off elastic bands. You could remove those prior to cooking, but I was nervous about being pinched and the folks at the fish market told me it was fine to leave them on.

Next, prep the lobster for eating. Cut the tail in half longways.

Things are looking up. Half for me and half for Mr. Picky. Yum.

Next, pop the claws away from the body.

Once they are free, use a knife to separate the joint. Insert and twist. Watch out, there might be some cooking water trapped in there.

Arrange the pieces on a platter and enjoy with heaps of Vanilla-Shallot Dipping Butter.

Phew. Mission accomplished.

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  1. You are too funny, Sash….

    It’s hard to justify “killing” unless one is starving to death and been w/o food for a long time…even then, ..

  2. There’s no need to split the tail in half. You detach the tail from the rest of the lobster, remove the flat fins at the end, stick a fork in the hole where the fins were, and voila, as the French people in Comoros would say, the whole tail meat pops out the other end.

  3. PS How do you know it’s a “HIM”


  1. […] Deciding whether or not to make this recipe caused quite the dilemma. You see, the last time I made lobster was traumatic. […]

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