How to Boil Lobster at Home

Live lobster is not inherently pink or red.
Live lobster is not inherently pink or red. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

When prepared correctly, lobster is an elegantly simple dish you can serve as a main dish, appetizer or accent meat. However, lobster is expensive, and ruining the meal would mean wasting a lot of money. Rather than shying away from cooking lobster at home, use a foolproof boiling method to produce a tender, succulent dish.

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Fill a large pot with water, stopping four inches from the top. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat on a stove top.

Grasp a live lobster by its tail and place it head first into the water. You may add as many lobsters as the pot can hold. Cover the pot and bring the water back to a rolling boil.

Continue to boil the lobster until the shells turn bright red. Boil the lobsters for 10 minutes for the first pound, and four minutes for each pound following, per lobster. For example, if you are cooking one, 3 lb. lobster, boil it for 18 minutes. If you are cooking two 3 lb. lobsters, boil for 36 minutes.

Test to see if the lobster is done by lightly pulling on the antenna, if it comes out easily the meat is cooked. If the antenna will not pull out, leave the lobster to boil for a few more minutes. Serve while hot.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a simple dipping sauce, mix 1 tbsp. lemon juice with 2 tbsp. butter in a bowl and microwave until melted.
  • If you are cooking lobster tails, reduce the cooking time by five minutes per lobster.


  • "Lobster at Home"; Jasper White; 1998
  • "Totally Lobster Cookbook"; Helene Siegel; 1997
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