The Difference Between Cooking Live & Dead Lobsters

There are several differences when cooking live lobster versus dead lobster.

There are two main differences between cooking live and dead lobsters. The main issue is in killing the lobster. There are two primary ways in which a lobster can be killed, using a knife or by cooking. Ideally, a method as painless as possible will be used. Lobsters can be cooked in many ways, though live lobsters need to be steamed or boiled before cooking using another method. Many individuals do not like to cook live lobsters and dead lobsters are an option, as they can be prepared in the same way as live lobsters.


The preparation before cooking differs depending on if the lobster is alive or dead. Many individuals try to relax the live lobster before cooking it. It is thought the lobster is more relaxed and will not feel as much pain. Relaxation is measured based on how many times the lobster tail flicks. The best relaxation technique has been to place the lobster in the freezer for about 10 minutes before cooking, though some people have massaged lobsters instead of freezing them. For dead lobsters this is not a concern as the lobster will not feel anything when cooking.

Killing Method

There are many ways in which lobster can be killed. Some methods kill the lobster by cooking it. Professional chefs kill lobsters prior to cooking. Chefs use a large, sharp knife and slice the head in two. They know the exact location to place the blade in to cut and instantly kill the lobster by slicing the brain in two. The lobster meat can then be removed from the shell and the tail chopped off to be sold. The dead lobster can also be cooked as is, in the shell.

Cooking Method

Lobster is commonly boiled or steamed. Live lobster is cooked this way as the high temperature of the water or steam kills the lobster instantly. Lobster that is grilled will first be par-boiled and then grilled. It is important that the water has reached a rolling boil or the water in the steamer is boiling. Otherwise, the temperature will not kill the lobster immediately and the lobster will be alive for some time until the necessary temperature is reached. Dead lobster can be cooked in a variety of ways, such as baked, broiled, steamed, grilled and even microwaved.

Whole or Tail

Live lobsters are only available whole. Dead lobsters can be purchased in the shell, as whole lobsters or as parts, usually the claws and tails. Lobster tails can come stuffed or lobster meat is available in the form of lobster rolls.