Steamed Lobster Recipe

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Many are intimidated when it comes to cooking live lobster or seafood in general. I’ll be honest with you, I think it’s easier than a lot of cuisines, and steamed lobster is no exception. Yes, steamed lobsters may be the easiest, elegant dinner of them all.

Steamed Lobster Recipe

If you’re from New England, lobster in the summer is a tradition and a staple. Or maybe even year-round if you’re my family. For years, we ate lobster every Christmas Eve until the party/mess got so big my dad would literally have to clean lobster off the walls. That’s what happens when you have 20 crazy people eating lobster in your dining room.

If you enjoyed this recipe, try my baked lobster tails, beer-steamed mussels with bacon, baked oysters Rockefeller, and my mussels in red sauce. If you’re a scallop lover, you must try my pan-seared scallops as well

Prepping Live Lobster

Be sure to carefully remove the rubber bands from the lobster claws before steaming. There is no need to keep them on. Scissors or kitchen shears work best for this so you don’t run the risk of getting a love bite.

How to Steam Lobster

I can explain it in 10 seconds. Fill a large lidded pot with 1 inch of water. Squeeze in juice of one lemon (for freshness), add salt, bring to boil, throw in lobster, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until lobsters are bright red. This recipe is ideal for 1.5-2 pound lobsters, which is the ideal size for the best-tasting lobster.

The secret element of this recipe is fresh lemon juice. It gives the lobster that subtle fresh flavor that goes so well with melted butter. You don’t need a steamer rack, only a pot large enough to comfortably fit all the lobsters you are steaming. If the lid fits, you’re in business.

Lobster Tails Only

Steamed lobster tails can be done following the same process. Lobster tails may steam closer to 10 minutes since the overall volume in the pot will be a lot less than full-sized lobsters. You can also bake lobster tails. If steaming lobster tails only, you can probably get away with 1 inch of water in the pan. You don’t want to boil the lobster.

Can I Steam Frozen Lobster Tails?

Yes, in fact, this is most likely how all lobster tails will start out if you buy in the grocery store. Just be sure to let lobster tails thaw fully before steaming. This will ensure proper cook times etc.

Cracking Lobster

The best lobster meat (in my option) is the tail. You can also get delicious meat out of the claws and the arms/elbows. The legs even have tiny slivers of meat if you’re up for the challenge. I usually discard the body…although some people eat the stuff in there.

Chowhound has some good tips with pictures on how to eat and peel lobster. Don’t forget to serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.

Lastly, save some leftover lobster for lobster mac and cheese!

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Steamed Lobster Recipe
Steamed Lobster Recipe

5 from 1 vote

Steamed Lobster Recipe

Servings: 1 lobster
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Classic steamed lobster or lobster tails is a lot easier to make at home than you may think. Salt, water, and fresh lemon juice create the perfect freshly steamed lobster.


  • 1.5-2.5 pound lobsters or lobster tails, thawd if frozen
  • 1 lemon, halved and squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1-1 1/2 inches of water, 1-3 quarts
  • Melted butter, for dipping


  • Fill a large lidded pot with roughly 1 inch of water. Squeeze in juice of one lemon and add lemon halves.
  • Add salt, bring to a simmering boil, and add lobster or lobster tails (be sure to remove rubber bands around claws with scissors before steaming). You can add as many lobsters as you can comfortably fit in the pot with the lid secured.
  • Cover and steam for 15-20 minutes until bright red. Lobsters will be very hot when done, do not touch with bare hands. Serve with a side of melted butter and lemon wedges. Note, lobster tails only take about 10 minutes to steam.


1 1/2 lb lobsters usually take 15 minutes, 2 1/2 lb lobsters take 20 minutes. Lobsters are done if you can easily pull off antennas with no resistance.
Steamed lobster tails can be done following the same process. Lobster tails may steam closer to 10 minutes since the overall volume in the pan will be a lot less than full-sized lobsters. Reduce water to 1 inch of water if only steaming a few tails.


Serving: 2lb lobster (1 1/2 cups, no butter)Calories: 194kcalProtein: 41.3gFat: 1.8gSaturated Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 317mgSodium: 1057mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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  1. Hi Julie, I steamed the tails the same way I steam the lobsters. My husband also split them in half lengthwise and grilled them with a little butter and lemon and they were good too. In fact, the tails came from the seafood market with the shell pre cut.
    Good luck!

  2. Hello. I was wondering if you would share best way to cook lobster that is not fresh (is store-bought, frozen, or just the tail). I can’t bring myself to steam a live one.