Boiled Lobster

Chef's notes:

Boiling a lobster is not necessarily the best way to cook a lobster, but it is the easiest and quickest way. Don’t get me wrong, boiled lobster is really, really good. It’s really easy to prepare, and anything tastes good when dipped in butter. Plus, who doesn’t love tearing into a whole lobster?

It’s a tradition in coastal Maine to boil lobster in sea water, most likely due to its proximity, but here in Minnesota, we must add the salt ourselves. The amount of salt is up largely up to you. I usually add 1 Tbsp per gallon of water, but I have heard of people adding as much as 8 Tbsp per gallon. That seems a bit excessive me, so maybe try somewhere in the middle if you like a little extra salt flavor.


  • 2 live whole lobsters
  • 2 gallons water
  • 2-8 Tbsp sea salt

Lobster Recipe: Fresh Live Lobster Boiled in Salted Water and Served Whole with Lemon Wedges and Garlic Butter

  1. Pick up some live, fresh lobster. Live lobster has become quite common recently. Not that I can recommend buying lobster from there, but they even sell them at Walmart. Wherever you decide to buy your lobster, pick the livelier ones in the tank. Also, ask to hold them, and if they feel light for their size, ask for different ones. Make sure the shells are intact, and try to get similar sized ones if you are cooking more than one at a time.
  2. Boil salted water in a pot large enough to fit your lobster. One of the main difficulties with boiling lobster is finding a pot large enough to fit them. Luckily, a roasting pan works just as well on the stove as it does in the oven. Plus, it straddles two burners, so it will heat up quickly. Make sure you have enough water to cover the lobster as they boil.
  3. Boil the lobster until it's done. You can determine if the lobster is done based upon how much the lobster weighs. Start the time once the lobster is in the pot and the boil has returned. Don’t add time for each lobster. For example, two 1 pound lobsters will take 5 minutes to cook, just like one 1 pound lobster. Cooking times are as follows: 1 pound = 5 minutes, 1 1/4 pounds = 8 minutes, 1 1/2 pounds = 10 minutes, 2 pounds = 12 minutes, 3 pounds = 15 minutes, 5 pounds = 18 minutes.
  4. Once the lobster has finished boiling, remove it from the water. Place the lobster on a cutting board or paper towel. If you have more lobsters to boil, cover the lobster with foil while the others cook. Presentation-wise, whole lobster is preferred. This works if you have a lobster cracker handy. I actually prefer to use scissors because it’s easier to cut the shell than to smash it. Plus, the meat remains intact, but it’s entirely up to you.

Tips & Tricks

  • Buy lively lobsters that can still curl their tail underneath them.
  • Hold the lobster to make sure it doesn’t feel light for its size. If it does, that means it has been using up its fat and muscle to stay alive.
  • Cut the rubber-bands off the claws before boiling the lobster.
  • Put the lobster in the pot with the tail facing away from you. The lobster will splash around a little as it cooks.
  • If you prefer to kill your lobster before you boil it, stick a knife in between and just behind its eyes, and push it all the way down. You’re essentially cutting its face in half and bisecting its puny, bug-like brain.
  • After being boiled, the lobster may have a lot of water inside that will come squirting out when you break the shell with a mallet. This is why I use scissors to carefully cut the meat out of the shell and drain the water.
  • You can use scissors to snip off the tips of the claw to drain the water inside.
  • To make your whole lobster look as good as the one in the top picture, brush it with a little vegetable oil.

Lobster Garnishments

  • Drawn butter
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Bay seasoning
  • Bearnaise sauce
  • Garlic butter
  • Hot sauce