How to Cook a Live Lobster


Make sure that your lobster is still alive before cooking it. When a lobster dies bacteria will quickly destroy the meat so it is important to either cook the lobster while it is still alive or immediately after it has died.

A lobster that has limp claws or whose tail does not curl when you pick it up is close to death and should be cooked immediately.


Getting your lobster in advance

There will be occasions when you catch or buy a lobster in advance. This is not a problem if the lobster is less than 48 hours before you are planning to eat it and providing your lobster is lively (see above).

You can keep a lobster alive in the fridge for up to 48 hours or you can cook it immediately and then keep the cooked lobster in the fridge for 48 hours (the latter is our preferred option).

To keep a lobster alive in the fridge


  • Place lobster in large bowl or container


  • Cover the lobster with wet seaweed – if this is not possible you can use a tea towel soaked in salt water. Do not use fresh water as this will kill the lobster


  • Place the lobster in the fridge for up to 48 hours making sure that the seaweed or tea towel is kept damp with sea water.

How to cook a lobster humanely


Nobody likes the thought of killing something and many people, including chefs, do not like cooking live lobsters. However, this task is made a little easier if you know that a lobster has a very small brain and no central nervous system or cerebral cortex to register stimuli. Therefore a lobster is unlikely to feel any pain. There are three methods of killing a lobster to cook…

1. Put the lobster straight into boiling water which will kill it within 10 seconds.

2. Put the lobster in the freezer for 30-60 minutes which will stun the lobster and ‘send it to sleep’.
(This is our preferred method)

3. Plunge a sharp knife just behind the eyes into the brain which will kill the lobster instantly.

How to Cook a Lobster

  • Make sure you have a large enough pan so that the lobster will fit into it easily and be fully submerged.
  • Put a large pan of water on the hob and bring to the boil – the water temperature should be 190ºF(80ºC)
  • Pick up the lobster by it’s back and place into the water claws and head first.
  • Use our guide to determine how long to cook to cook the lobster.

Lobster Cooking Times

Imperial Metric Cooking Time
1 – 1 ¼ lb. 500g 12 – 15 mins
1 ¼ – 2 lb. 500g-900g 15 – 20 mins
2-3 lb. 900-1350g 20 – 25 mins
3-7 lb. 1350-3kg 25 – 30 mins
Over 7lb Over 3kg 3 mins per lb / 500g

You will know that the lobster is cooked by checking the following:-

The lobster should be red in colour and if you pull gently on one of the small back legs or one of the antenna it should come away easily.

Remove the lobster from the water and leave to cool

Do not be tempted to over cook the lobster as over cooking will cause the meat to become tough

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