There is no better way to enjoy lobster than to steam it and dip the meat in melted butter. To make the process a little easier, we’ve included a step-by-step photo tutorial showing how to crack and clean your lobster. Then, if you do want to dress it up, you can use the meat in Lobster Scrambled Eggs with Caviar and Crème Fraîche, our Lobster Risotto recipe, or simple (but certainly no less delicious) Lobster Rolls.

Special equipment: Because shelling lobsters is a messy business, we recommend putting paper or plastic lobster bibs, damp hand towels, and napkins on the table. Seafood crackers are useful, too, though a heavy mallet will also do the trick.

Game plan: You can cook as many lobsters at once as will comfortably fit in the pot. While there’s debate about whether there’s a humane way to kill anything, and even whether lobsters feel pain, if you don’t wish to steam them alive, get advice from the Chowhound community about how to kill a lobster if you want to do so before steaming it.

This dish was featured as part of our Valentine’s Day All-Star Recipes.

  • Yield: 1 lobster
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 20 mins
  • Active: 5 mins

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 (1-1/2-pound) whole live lobster
  • Melted butter, for serving

  1. Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and stir in the salt. Add a steamer rack to the pot. (If you don’t have a steamer rack, lightly bunch a long piece of foil so that it looks like a rope. Then make a figure eight out of the foil rope and set it in the pot.)
  2. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the lobster head-first to the pot, cover with a tightfitting lid, and return the water to a full boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil until the lobster is bright red, about 14 minutes from the time it goes into the pot. Check its doneness by pulling on an antenna: If the antenna comes out with no resistance, the lobster is done. Remove the lobster to a rimmed baking sheet and let it sit until it’s cool enough to handle.
  3. To crack and remove the lobster meat, use your hands to twist and separate the tail from the body. Twist and remove both of the claws where they meet the body; set the claws aside. Discard the head and torso.
  4. Starting with the tail, remove the small, wispy flippers on the underside of the shell. Using a fork, pierce the exposed tail meat and slowly twist and pull it out of the shell in one piece. (You can rinse any white debris off of the tail meat if desired.) Discard the shell of the tail.
  5. Twist the claws and separate them from the legs; set the legs aside. Gently wiggle and pull the smaller part of the pincer shell off each claw. Using a seafood cracker, gently crack the claws to remove the meat. Crack the legs and remove the meat.
  6. Serve the lobster with melted butter.