HomeHow-toHow-To: Cook Lobster Like A Yankee

How-To: Cook Lobster Like A Yankee

by Jack T. Wilder
A pot of cooked lobster in a steel pot. Photo: Getty

So you’ve made it to New England this summer for some out-of-the-way vacation time Down East and suddenly you’ve got a hankering for some fresh lobster. You could saddle up to one of the many Lobster Roll shacks for one of their specialty made and over-priced sandwiches or you could do it the right way. Boil ’em, crack ’em and dunk ’em in butter. We’re going to show you how to do it the right way. Yankee style.


Make sure you’ve got a couple of big pots as you might need more than one to cook multiple lobsters at the same time. Just about every home rental or guest house kitchen along the Atlantic Coast north of Boston has a lobster pot or two in its cabinet. If not you can buy one at any nearby general store. A 30 or 40 quart stainless steel pot will get you going. You’re also going to need a good fire to heat up those pots either outdoors over a campfire or inside over gas or electric stove. Get everything ready before cooking. Pots. Lids. Salt water. Butter. This would be the perfect time to crack open a Harpoon IPA and enjoy the sunset.

What Size Lobster to Buy?

When you roll up to the Route 1 store to buy a few lobsters make sure you know what you want before going inside. Some of those guys will try to sell you the big three pound plus lobsters at $12 a pound. But you want the smaller ones. I like my lobsters preferably about a pound and a half up to two pounds. Any larger than that and the taste begins to vary and the meat a little less tender. If you can negotiate a price between 7-10 dollars per pound you’re doing good. At high season expect to pay more. The store will pack your lobster in seaweed or wet newspaper and ice and you have a few hours to get them home and in the pot.


Fill your pots up about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with salt water. If you can use fresh ocean water do it. Put the pots on the fire and bring to a slow rolling boil. I like to throw in some of the seaweed from the packing box to add more flavor to the water. Be careful with young children and pets nearby as scalding hot water can really hurt someone. Once the water is boiling add one or two lobsters to each pot making sure the water does not overflow. The lobsters die instantly. Surely not the way they would choose to go, but go they must. We’re all hungry.


Your lobsters will need about 7-8 minutes per pound. Keep an eye on them and when they turn bright red and white foam starts to escape their bodies after the allotted time they are perfectly done. Pull from the hot water and let them sit on cutting board for a few minutes to cool down. Do not rinse them in cold water.


After they’ve cooled down a few minutes take a big knife and place it along the length of the tail and press down hard so that it cracks and splits the tail meat into two halves. You are now ready to serve your lobster. Drop them onto individual plates or serve in a pile on a picnic table and let people choose their own. Start with the claws and use nut-cracking tongs if you have them. After you’ve pulled the claw meat and dipped it into the melted butter, toss back your head and enjoy the succulent meat and salty flavor. When you’ve finished the claws, rip into the tail meat and continue until you can can eat no more. But you can. Serve up some cut corn cobs and boiled red potatoes for the piece d’ resistance. Polish off with another Harpoon IPA and make sure you have plenty of paper towels around. Lobster eating is messy business. Pat yourself on the back. You are now a Yankee.