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The 2021 Maine Lobster Festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19. We hope to see you August 3-7, 2022.

What’s the best way to cook lobster: steamed or boiled?

Monday, December 14, 2020 by Dream Local in Lobster

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Everyone loves the taste of sweet, tender Maine lobster, but when it comes to cooking it, the process occasionally baffles some: which is better, to steam or to boil?

Prepping the lobster

As far as research goes, evidence around whether lobsters feel any pain continues to be inconclusive, with The Lobster Institute In Maine taking the position that since the lobsters only have a primitive central nervous system (and no brain) they “do not have the capability of processing the sensation of pain.”

In fact the Institute recommends one method of preparing the lobster that will ease anyone’s anxiety and sedate the lobster is to chill it in the freezer (without freezing it) for 10-15 minutes before cooking. According to The Institute’s executive director, Robert Bayer, that will “put the lobster to sleep.”

Once ready to drop the lobster into the pot, carefully remove the rubber bands on the claws (and mind your fingers). The rubber imparts a bad taste in the water.

Pick a 4-5 quart pot for two lobsters, and if you’ve got a crowd, use a 19-quart pot for five or six lobsters.

Advantages of steaming advises the steaming method when you plan to serve lobster for two as a sit-down dinner. For a 1 lb to ½ lb lobster, factor in 7-11 minutes of cooking time. A pot filled with less water comes to boil faster, which is one advantage of steaming, but the real proof is in the quality of taste. Lobster that is steamed is more tender as less water infiltrates the shells.

Advantages of boiling 

If you have a crowd of people, boiling is the way to go, as it’s the best method for cooking four or more lobsters at one time. cites the main advantage here is the high, intense heat from the boiling water. It cooks the lobster meat quickly, which makes it easier to remove from the shell. If you plan to pick the lobster immediately, for a deconstructed dish or lobster rolls, this is the method you want to use. Factor in 5-8 minutes for a 1 lb to ½ lb lobster.

Lobster has a handy cooking chart comparing the two methods and times needed for each.

Now that you’ve learned how to properly cook a Maine lobster, check out our blog, chock-filled with local and chef-inspired recipes on making the best lobster dish that will make you the envy of your friends and family this holiday season.

We hope to see you August 4-8, 2021. Check us out: Maine Lobster Festival.


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