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how to cook lobster - maine style

*Photo by Luis Marden from Nat Geo book "Retronaut: The Photogenic Time Machine". 1952 Lobster Festival, Rockland Maine


As true coastal Mainers, and a family of fisherman and aquaculturist, we eat a lot of lobster (and fish for that matter) and are frequent users of lobster and other shellfish in our recipes, especially during the summer months when we can get it fresh off the boat. Our favorite way to enjoy lobster though is the way we think it should be enjoyed by all first timers- simply, freshly steamed with a drizzle (or more if you desire) of butter.

In this post, we'll share with you the step-by-step of how we cook and eat lobster here in Maine, what you’ll need to do it yourself, how to shell it out, a few of our favorite places to get them fresh, and a few things to be aware of when cooking/eating lobster. We love to cook lobster outside with a bunch of friends and family over a fire, but you can do this inside as well on a stove top. 

If getting lobster straight from the fisherman isn’t possible for you, we suggest getting some from a few of our favorite fresh Maine lobster pounds. Visiting a Maine lobster pound can be an experience in and of itself and most cook them onsite for you if you would prefer to skip the cooking part and get straight to the enjoying part. We’ve made a list of a few of them below that stretch up and down the coast of Maine. 

Looks Live Lobster, Jonesport 

BBS Lobster Trap, in Machiasport 

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Trenton

Seaview Lobster Co, Kittery

Not visiting Maine any time soon, but still want lobster? Check out options like Maine Lobster Now who will deliver fresh, live lobster via next day delivery anywhere in the US.

Live lobsters can be stored in the fridge or crisper drawer of your fridge for short periods of time until you are ready to cook them. Usually no longer than two days. If a lobster dies before you get to cook it, do not eat it. 

Not only is eating a Maine lobster part of the Maine experience, but it’s healthy too (when using butter in moderation or not at all). Lobster is full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and brain function, and contain vitamins such as Vitamin B12, B6, and Vitamin E, and essential minerals like zinc, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Now, let’s get to cooking. 

You'll Need: 


Begin by placing your steam rack in the bottom of your pot and fill your pot with water until the water line is just below your rack. Add a sprinkle of salt to your water and bring water to a boil. This will allow you to steam your lobsters. 

While your water is heating up, remove the bands from the claws of your lobster. I know this can seem scary or intimidating, but trust us, it's important! You don't want your cooked lobster to have a hint of rubber. Be sure to grab the lobster firmly from behind just under its arms to avoid being pinched and slide the bands off. As you remove the bands, place each lobster gently into your steaming & boiling water. 

Repeat this step until all of your lobsters are in the pot and cover the pot with your lid. 

Let the lobsters steam for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, your lobsters should have turned bright red. You can double check that they are done by lightly tugging on their "feeler", the antennae that sticks out of the head. If the feeler comes off without much effort, they are done. 

Drain and empty the lobsters into a clean sink, or another pot until they are cool enough to handle. Once they have cooled, you can begin to shell out your meat. If you’d like step-by-step instructions on how to shell out a lobster, check out this youtube video that explains all of the areas you should focus on to get the best and most meat. 

As you shell out the lobster, you can eat it as is, or place it into a dish to be eaten later, or if you’re ready to enjoy it classic Maine style, you can place it into melted butter if you’re going to eat it immediately. 

If you like a little lemon with your fish, squeeze lemon over lobster right before eating. 

If you are storing your lobster for any length of time after it has been cooked, be sure to store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Cooked lobster can be stored for about a week and be eaten again warmed or cold.