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What is the Lobster Cooking Time?

Live Maine Lobster

Cooking lobster for the first time can be a bit intimidating. It only gets worse if it’s an important occasion with all the in-laws in attendance. It might feel like you’re in more hot water than the lobster. 

But there’s no reason to overthink the process. It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true—if you can boil water, you can cook lobster. The key is to make sure that you use the right lobster cooking time. That’s it. Let’s get started. 

Why Cooking Time Is So Important for Lobster Meat

Pay careful attention to your cooking time when preparing lobster. You don’t want to serve your guests undercooked seafood, but neither do you want to force them to try to eat overcooked rubbery lobster. 

One of the simplest steps you can take to get your timing right is to make sure that your water is truly boiling before you add the lobster. If the water hasn’t reached the boiling point, the suggested cooking time will be meaningless. 

If you overcrowd your pot with too many lobsters, your water temperature may take a drastic dip. This is especially true if your lobsters are coming to the pot straight from the freezer. So, choose a pot that’s large enough to accommodate your lobsters. The water needs to be able to reach all parts of the lobster. 

If you’re cooking for a large crowd, you’re probably going to need several pots. Make sure that your stovetop can safely accommodate the number of pots you plan to use. 

Estimated Cooking Times Can Vary Widely

You’ll find a wide variety of suggested times for cooking a lobster. Unfortunately, those giving the advice seldom give specifics. For example, you don’t know if their advice is based on cooking one lone lobster in a pot or several at a time in the same pot.

You also might not know what kind of lobster they were preparing. Did it have a particularly hard shell or a soft one? The hardness of its shell will influence how quickly the lobster cooks. Lobsters caught in the summer will usually cook faster than those harvested in the winter because the thickness of the shell changes with the seasons. 

You also don’t know where they were cooking—at sea level or in a mountain retreat. 

Suggested Lobster Cooking Time

Without the background details about the cooking conditions used by others, the best you can do is to accept the fact that your best cooking results are likely to fall somewhere in a range.  Remember that the suggested cooking times are only recommendations.

One great tip is to read the reviews and comments offered on the Internet by other customers who purchased lobsters similar to yours. In reviews, people often mention how they cooked their lobsters. This information will help you narrow down the correct cooking time. 

When boiling a lobster, the estimate is to cook it between five and eight minutes for each pound. You’ll find suggestions that give cooking times as long as 15 minutes for each pound. However, we find that such an extending cooking time under normal conditions will yield a rather inedible lobster.  

The lobster’s shell will achieve a vivid color near the end of its cooking time. But you don’t want to judge by outward appearance. When a lobster is done, the meat will appear opaque. You won’t be able to see through it. If you can still see through it, it’s under-cooked.

A Word About Humanely Killing a Lobster 

Until the past few decades, few people gave much thought to how to kill a lobster quickly. Plunging into a pot of boiling water seemed the obvious answer. But as we grew more aware of the plight of animal life, the more we began to wonder if we were causing undue suffering by placing a live sea creature into hot water.  

There are various opinions as to whether lobsters feel pain. Some say that all living creatures can experience pain. Others point to the fact that lobsters have a much less advanced nervous system than mammals to support their theory that lobsters don’t register pain.  

The debate has led some places in Europe to require chefs to kill lobsters or render them unconscious before adding them to the cooking pot. If you want to err on the side of caution and make sure that’s it’s less likely that your lobster will be aware of its demise, we have a solution.


You can use to your advantage the fact that lobsters need warm surroundings to stay alive. Keep your lobsters in a cold environment until you’re ready to cook. A chilly refrigerator or a bucket of ice will work. The creatures can’t regulate body heat, so they become extremely sluggish in the cold.  

You can now add the chilled lobster to your pot of boiling water, where it will die quickly. Or, you can place the lobster in your freezer for its final 15-20 minutes before cooking. The lobster will drift into a deep state of inactivity or even death before it’s time for the cooking pot. 

If you’re sure the lobster is dead, you can remove the protective elastic bands holding together the claws. However, if you’re skittish, you can leave the bands in place. 

You're Now Ready to Prepare Your First Lobster Meal

So, do you feel a little more comfortable with the idea of cooking lobster for the first time? As you can see, it’s mostly a matter of making sure that the lobster stays in the pot for the right amount of time. Keep a close eye on the clock, and your guests will thank you. After all, timing is everything. 

Now that you’re comfortable with your lobster cooking time place an order for more of our lobsters or some of our other fresh seafood

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