How to cook a live lobster

The elegance of a lobster dinner is perfect for special occasions, from Valentine’s Day to anniversaries to birthdays. However, we’re going to let you in on a secret. Lobster is incredibly easy to prepare – simple enough even for a quick weeknight dinner.

There are two foolproof ways to cook a live lobster: steaming and boiling. In both cases, you must plunge the lobster, head first, into boiling water as a humane way to kill it instantly. Lobsters will turn their characteristic bright red as they cook, and will finish cooking in a matter of 10-15 minutes (varying by method and weight).

We like to keep it simple when it comes to serving lobster; its delicate flavor works best with butter and garlic. We recommend dipping the meat in clarified (or drawn) butter heated up gently with garlic. Serve a green vegetable on the side (such as asparagus or spinach), and another great complement is a Filet Mignon steak for Surf n’ Turf.

Hungry for dinner yet? Keep reading for two basic lobster recipes.

Serves 2


  • 2 whole, live lobsters
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup beer (or if you prefer, white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Several sprigs of fresh basil and dill
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar.


Combine water, beer or wine, salt, herbs, lemon and brown sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

Dip the lobster, head first, into the boiling liquid and cover with a lid. Cook for 12-14 minutes or until shell turns red.

Serves 4


  • 4 lobsters, 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs each
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 lemons, squeezed for their juice
  • 2 sticks butter
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)


Using a very large pot, bring lots of water to a rapid boil and plunge lobsters into the water, head first. Cook 8 minutes for the first pound of weight, then about 3-4 minutes per each additional pound (e.g. 3 lbs would need to cook about 15 minutes).

Once cooked, remove from water and poke a hold in the cross-mark on the back shell to drain out excess water. Set aside while preparing sauce.

For the sauce, combine crushed garlic, butter and lemon juice in a saucepan and mix together while butter melts (you may also add a tablespoon or two of freshly chopped parsley for additional flavor). Mix together well and divide among 4 small bowls for dipping lobster meat.