Super Simple Cooking Method: How to Boil Lobster

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Photo by Jazz Guy licensed under CC BY 2.0

Boiling is probably the cooking method you’ve heard about the most when it comes to these favorite crustaceans. It’s fast, there’s little to no prep work involved, and it keeps the flavors you want intact. Here’s how to do it right, so you can enjoy your lobsters in just a few minutes.

Is Boiling the Best Method?

The best method for cooking these crustaceans depends on personal preferences, but we will say that boiling lobsters is probably the easiest way to go. Unlike other cooking methods, you don’t have any prep time involved. Instead, you drop them in a pot of boiling water, wait for their shells to change color, and they’re ready to enjoy.

One reason we prefer this method is because boiling does a great job keeping the intense flavors of lobster in place, especially when you use sea salt in your water. Another benefit is that boiling allows meat to come out of the shell easier than steaming.

Do You Boil Lobster Alive?

We know it’s coming: “Why boil a lobster alive?”. It seems barbaric to place a living creature in a pot of boiling water. However, there are two main reasons that this has come to be the most common way to boil them:

  1. They look and taste better when cooked alive. Historically, this is the reason people began boiling the crustaceans alive instead of killing them first. The method left all the flavors intact to give that ocean taste people want in their lobsters.
  2. More importantly, boiling lobsters alive can reduce the risk of food poisoning. Several types of shellfish can be infested with Vibrio bacteria, which love their decaying meat. They can be found on the meat within only a couple of hours of a lobster’s death and they multiply quickly. Boiling lobsters alive gives the bacteria no opportunity to take over the meat you’re about to ingest. One way to avoid this is by purchasing frozen lobsters or tails, but you have to be super careful to ensure you’re buying from a legitimate company (like Maine Lobster House!) that uses the right freezing methods to meet food safety standards.

The Best Way to Boil Lobster

So, how exactly do you boil these guys?

  1. Find a pot that’s large enough to hold your crustaceans with enough water to cover them and enough space to keep them somewhat separated for an even cook.
  2. Fill the pot about ¾ of the way full. You should have about 3 quarts of water for every 2-pounds of lobster. Salt the water using sea salt.
  3. Bring water to a rapid boil and add one lobster at a time to the pot (it’s a good idea to leave the rubber bands on their claws so you don’t get pinched!).
  4. Try to get them in quickly, cover the pot with a lid, and start your timer as soon as the last one is in the pot.
  5. You’ll need between 15 and 20 minutes for 2 to 3 pounds. Stir once at the mid-way point.
  6. Once the shells turn bright red, they’re probably done, but it’s a good idea to pull one from the pot, crack it open, and look at the meat to make sure it’s turned white.
  7. Remove each lobster with tongs and place them on a plate to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Can You Boil Lobster Tails by Themselves?

Yes! The method for how to boil lobster tails is similar to cooking the full animal but takes a little prep work in the beginning.

First, thaw the tails and prep them by using kitchen shears to cut open the middle of the tail, lengthwise. Spread the shell apart to expose the meat. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and carefully drop the tails in. Boiling should take between 6 and 10 minutes, depending on the size and number of tails. Look for the shells to turn bright red and the meat to become white.

Conclusion: How to Boil Lobster and Tails at Home

You now know one of the best cooking methods for these popular crustaceans that can give you the lobster dinner you’ve been craving quickly and easily. Check out our lobster tails, which arrive at your door frozen using the safest methods, and boil away!