How To Boil Lobster

Are you intimidated by the idea of boiling lobster? Boiling is the most popular and a simple way of preparing lobster. Lobster used to be a poor man’s food in the early 19th century, before public opinion shifted and fishermen began hunting and selling the crustaceans more furiously. All around the world and especially in the American northeast, lobster is now a prized dish. Here is how to boil lobster.


  • Live lobsters
  • Water
  • Salt


1.  Fill a large pot with enough water. Four or five gallons of water will safely hold about 6 to 8 pounds of lobster. As a rule of thumb, it’s better to have too much water than to overcrowd the pot with too much lobster.

2.   Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. For best results, use sea salt.

  • Optional: Add a sprig of thyme, two bay leaves, and the juice of one lemon to the water. This will make the water into more of a broth than brine.
  • Purists will probably want to stick to a simple brine. If you plan to eat your lobster with melted butter, you do not need to make a broth.


3.   Bring the water to a full rolling boil. A rolling boil is when the water does not stop boiling when you stir the water.

  • You want a rolling boil to ensure the water will boil even after the lobster is put into the pot, reducing the temperature of the water momentarily.


4.   Place the lobster into the boiling water. A couple things to consider as you put your lobster into the pot:

  • Leave the rubber bands on the pincers of the lobster until just before you submerge them in the pot. Their pincers are strong and can cause injury. Grab the lobster by the back of the carapace while doing this.
  • Place the lobster into the water head in first.
  • Try placing all the lobsters you are going to cook into the pot as quickly as possible. If you are cooking multiple lobsters, get them all into the water at the same time so you can remove them at the same time.


5.  Cover the pot and set the timer immediately.



6.  Boil 8 minutes for a one-pound lobster, following the boiling guide below for additional weights.


7.  After the allotted cooking time, check whether the lobster is cooked. To tell whether the lobster is fully cooked, try:

  • Testing for color. A fully cooked lobster is deep red. An uncooked lobster has a charcoal-type color.
  • Tugging on an antennae. It should come off easily when the lobster is fully cooked.
  • Testing the meat. A fully cooked lobster will have firm, white, opaque skin. Uncooked meat will still be loose and translucent.
  • Testing the roe (or eggs) in female lobster. The roe will be orange-reddish and firm in cooked lobster and dark green or black in uncooked lobster.