Return to Content

How to Cook Lobster

How to Cook Lobster
14 votes, 4.64 avg. rating (91% score)
by
Learn how to cook lobster that tastes perfect every time by steaming rather than boiling them. Then read our best tips for preparing and serving lobster at home.
How to Cook Lobster
Photo/Art by Brenda Darroch

Ingredients:

    Instructions:

    In June 1979 we brought you the story of Bertha Nunan, owner of the Lobster Hut in Cape Porpoise, Maine, and arguably America's most famous lobster cook. We stepped inside the Hut's cramped kitchen, where Nunan shared with us her secrets for how to cook lobster that's perfect every time. The lobster was great then, and it's great today. 2002 marked the Hut's 49th season, and neither the restaurant nor the 75-year-old Nunan has slowed down. During summer, the Hut serves as much as 700 pounds of lobster a night. It seems a Nunan lobster is something no one's taste buds can forget. To make your own great-tasting crustacean, here again are Nunan's tips on how to cook lobster.

    "When you buy lobsters," she says, "you should know that from winter to summer the lobsters are hard-shelled. They're packed full of meat then, and you need fewer lobsters for a pound of meat if you're making stew. But I prefer them when they're soft-shelled. They're sweeter then."

    "The secret to cooking lobsters is not to murder them. Give them a nice, slow, respectable way out. Don't put them in boiling water, and don't drown them in too much water.

    "Boiling them in a lot of water just boils their flavor out, and too much water waterlogs them. I put in two inches of water, whether I'm cooking two lobsters or 14. I take a salt container and with the spout open I pour it three times around the pot, then, plop! at the end (about three teaspoons). When the water is boiling, put in the lobsters, put the lid on, and steam them for 20 minutes. Not a minute less or a minute more.

    "When they're done, draw up your butter and serve the lobster with a dish of vinegar as well. Now the next step is what a lot of people, and practically all restaurants, ignore. It's why people tell me our lobsters taste the best of any they ever had.

    "I always wash the pot after cooking each lobster. Lobsters are scavengers, and they can get pretty greasy from the bait. Look in the pot the next time you cook them and you'll see a sediment from the shell. So I always put in fresh salted water for every batch of lobsters.

    "I'll never stop being surprised at what some people will do to a lobster. Some folks, to save time, precook their lobsters. When people arrive, they throw them in boiling water for a minute. That's the worst thing you can do. The lobster just fills with water. If you're eating lobster in a restaurant and when you crack it open water spurts everywhere, you can bet they just threw a precooked lobster in boiling water.

    Editor's Note: Bertha Nunan passed away in January 2009, and Nunan's Lobster Hut is now run by younger members of the family.
    Updated Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
    Yankee Magazine Advertising

    Bring New England Home
    plus, get the Tablet Edition FREE!

    In this issue: Summer Off the Beaten Path

    • 12 Best Places to Picinic
    • Acadian Pride in Northern Maine
    • Saying Goodbye to a Summer Home
    • Hidden Gems in the Upper CT Valley
    Subscribe Today and Save 44%

    Browse Similar Recipes

    13 Responses to How to Cook Lobster

    1. Colin Stevens September 12, 2002 at 1:04 pm #

      If your going to cook lobster…listen to the pro’s. That gal knows what she is talking about..excellent.

    2. Anonymous October 5, 2002 at 8:03 pm #

      We were from New Hampshire and cooked our lobsters between 12 and 15 minutes. I would think after 20 minutes they would be like leather.

    3. Anonymous January 1, 2003 at 8:12 pm #

      I thought the instructions were clear and concise. I had no problem with it and the lobster was delicious. I’ve had lobsters at Red Lobster and they were watery; now I know why.

    4. ann smith March 8, 2003 at 4:13 pm #

      i found this recipe one night when stuck with lobsters. I had guests and I had no idea what to do. I have used this recipe five times now… and nothing beats it… thanks…..

    5. Donna M. Brady August 19, 2003 at 1:25 pm #

      Back in 1979 when this was first published, I used this method and the lobsters, no matter how many, were perfect! So here it is 24 years later and it is still the best way! Thanks, you brought back good memories too!

    6. Robert Mailloux September 18, 2003 at 6:27 pm #

      I have spent alot of time in Maine and
      New Beford, Massachusetts. I have shared some great recipes for cooking lobsters.
      The best is steaming lobsters in a pit
      full of hot boulders and seaweed
      covered with a tarp. The second best way
      is this recipe.

    7. Rick Richardson May 24, 2004 at 4:53 pm #

      Lobster, Lobster, Lobster!!! Life doesn’t get any better than this.

    8. Bill Walters July 12, 2004 at 10:31 pm #

      Great lobster, but don’t forget Bertha’s blueberry or apple pies! Simply the best.

    9. Lynn Serritella November 6, 2005 at 8:40 am #

      It’s so hard to convince people from away to steam, not boil lobsters, especially when this misinformation gets passed on by so-called expert chefs (food network!) Good to have confirmation from one who really knows.

    10. Christine Allen October 10, 2009 at 5:28 pm #

      I’m feeling blessed! I used this recipe from the 1979 issue of Yankee Magazine for years with wonderful results. During one move or another, I lost the recipe and could only remember the “three times around the pot” with the salt but not the cooking time.
      I am beyond gleeful to have found it again after several attempts to find it on the website.

    11. Maureen Anderson August 8, 2012 at 9:41 am #

      I love lobster and eat it several times during the summer months. But why the vinegar? I don’t know what that is used for.

    12. lynn bryan May 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi,
      What can I do with the water I boiled the lobsters in?

    13. DORIS(RHODE ISLAND) May 22, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

      I’ve done them this way for 50 years and use a big stainless streel roasting pan with a lid to steam them in. I put them in back side down(with long tongs). The steaming time is “right on”.
      I serve lemon wedges with them Perfect every time.

    Leave a Reply

    Comments maybe edited for length and clarity.

    Register Sign In

    ©2013, Yankee Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    Yankee Publishing Inc., | P.O. Box 520, Dublin, NH 03444 | (603) 563-8111

    2014-july-regsub-windowshade600x350