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Basic Boiled Lobster


Boiled lobster in pot
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I grew up eating lobsters, as my mum is from New England, so I know instinctively how to boil a lobster. But not everyone does, so here is a simple method for how to cook lobster. The one deviation I have from standard practice is that I like to put a big piece of seaweed in the pot for flavor; I picked up this tip from my sister. It's optional, but seaweed adds a nice briny flavor to the meat.

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 1 lobster per person
  • Salt
  • A large piece of dried seaweed (optional)


Get your largest pot, fill it 3/4 of the way full with water -- clean seawater if you are near the ocean, or tap water with enough salt in it to make it taste like seawater. Bring it to a rolling boil and add the piece of seaweed.

Take your live lobsters (lobsters must always be alive when you buy them) one at a time and put them in the pot. You may have to either do this in batches or have several pots going at once. A standard stock pot will boil two lobsters.

The best way I know to quickly kill your lobsters is to put them in the water upside down and head first. They will be disoriented that way and will die without thrashing about.

I do not recommend killing your lobsters before immersing them in hot water: Cutting their shells to kill them will release a lot of coagulated proteins into the boiling water and can ruin the bright red coral, or roe. This roe is absolutely delicious and should be treated as the precious gift it is.

Once your lobsters are in the pot, quickly cover it and wait for the water to return to a boil. When it does, count off 15-20 minutes, depending on their size. A normal 1-1 1/2 pound lobster will take 15 minutes once the boil returns.

If you are worried, let them boil a bit longer. Undercooked lobster is nasty. Overcooked lobster can get rubbery, but you really have to boil the heck out of lobster to get there.

Remove your cooked lobsters and place them on a plate to cool and drain. Water will drain out of them, so make sure the plate has a lip to catch it.

You are now ready to pick apart your crustacean. You can either eat it on the spot, or pick the meat for future meals.

If you serve it on the spot, do so with clarified butter, olive oil, mayo, or, do as I do: a squeeze of lemon. I think lobster is rich enough without butter or other fat, so lemon or lime is all I give it.

What to drink? A cold pilsner or lager beer is good, but so would a chenin blanc, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, Spanish albarino or Portuguese vinho verde.

Related Video
How to Boil and Clean a Lobster

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