Steaming lobster is one of the best ways to enjoy the true flavor of a fresh live lobster.  Steaming is a gentler method of cooking than boiling lobster, and steaming keeps the lobster meat a little more tender then boiling.  It is also harder to overcook a lobster including lobster tails when steaming (if a lobster is boiled for too long it will be tough).

It is a little more difficult to remove the meat from a steamed lobster (as compared to a boiled lobster), so if you want to make the lobster a little easier to eat after cracking, or if you are cooking the lobster to use the meat in a another recipe, you might prefer to boil rather than steam.

It is best to use natural seawater for steaming lobster, but if that is not available, simply add about two tablespoons of sea salt to each quart of water.

Cooking times for steaming lobster:

  • 1 pound lobster – steam 10 minutes
  • 1-1/4 pound lobster – steam 12 minutes
  • 1-1/2 pound lobster – steam 14 minutes
  • 1-3/4 pound lobster – steam 16 minutes
  • 2 pound lobster – steam 18-20 minutes
  • 2-1/2 pound lobster – steam 20-25 minutes

Once or twice during steaming, open the lid and move the lobsters around to make sure they steam evenly.

Steamed Lobster Recipe

This ingredient list is a basic suggestion for what will only lightly flavor the lobster meat. If I chose the ingredients in order if importance, it would be: salt, herbs, onion, peppercorn, garlic, bay leaf, lemon, celery. One real necessity, however is salt. Some hard core lobster boiler and steamers only cook them using seawater. Another tactic is to use fresh seaweed mixed in with the seawater to add even more flavor. The premise of this is that boiling or steaming a lobster in water with a lower salinity than the lobster will leach tasty salt from the lobster through osmosis, thus the need for highly salted drawn butter. I think a good amount of salt is 1 tablespoon salt per 1 quart of water. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that much salt will significantly lower the boiling point of the water, because it takes a whole ounce of salt per quart of water to raise the boiling point just one degree.

Preparation Time: 20 minsServings: 4

1 tablespoon salt per 1 quart water added
2-2 pound Maine lobsters
1 medium onion, rough chopped (approximately 3/4 inch square )
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 tsp cracked peppercorns
2 bay leaves
whole branches of fresh dill (if no dill, substitute tarragon or parsley)

  • Cover vegetables and seasonings with 1 1/2 inches of water.
  • If you want to kill the lobsters first, click here to learn how to kill a lobster.
  • Bring to a boil and add the steamer basket with the lobsters in it and cover tightly.
  • Cook for 15 minutes, making sure there’s still enough water in the bottom of the pot. If you do add more water, it is not necessary to add more salt, because only the water evaporates.
  • Check for doneness with one of the small legs. Then, remove from the pot and crack the lobster and enjoy!.




  1. I had Maine lobster in June at a lobster pound just before crossing in to Acadia Park. Absolutely scrumptious! I have never cooked it and have yet to find anything even close here in Denver.

  2. I have a lobster pot – you can pick them up pretty inexpensively on line if there aren’t any in your area. (Don’t waste your money on a really expensive one!) To steam them:
    Put about 3″ of water in the bottom of the pot, along with about 2 tablespoons of sea salt if you have it (I use Morton’s kosher salt).
    I don’t own a “proper” steamer, so I take an old metal vegetable steamer, the kind that folds into itself. You can really use anything that will prop the lobsters up and keep them out of the water – or you can use nothing at all.
    Now, here’s the tricky bit. Put the lid on and turn the flame up high. I keep a brick on top of the lid to keep steam from escaping.
    Then, if you’re kind, put the lobsters (still in their holders) in your freezer for about 5 minutes. That stuns them. DON’T FREEZE THEM.
    The instant that pot starts steaming, put the lobsters in head first, close the lid, put something on it to hold it down hard, and leave them alone until they’re cooked. The lobsters will throw off plenty of liquid as they cook, so make sure to stay in the room in case of overflow!
    I take them out with tongs, put them in the sink, and separate the parts before serving. Get a decent pair of kitchen scissors. Put a colander or strainer in the bowl you’re going to serve the lobster in. (This keeps it from sitting in slowly cooling liquid….)
    Pull the tail off and cut it up the soft part. Take the legs, claws etc off and separate. Don’t forget the knuckle meat, it’s great! Pull off the little feathery things, those are lungs, you don’t want to eat them.
    Save the green stuff and, if you’re lucky, the red roe, for anyone who might want them.

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