While cooking is the final stage of taking the lobster from the sea to your plate, there is much that goes on beforehand. It is vital to make sure the lobster has been suitably stored and prepared to ensure it will go to the pot in the best condition possible and result in a satisfactory culinary experience.

Here we will explore the fundamental steps in terms of storage and preparation you will need to observe when you take the plunge and experience lobster from the comfort of your own home.

When You First Receive Your Lobster

As with most live food and prepared meat, the fresher it is, the better it will taste. Lobsters are quite robust in nature and can survive out of the water for up to 24 hours, and with additional maintenance, they will remain alive for a short time after this. Therefore, you should ensure that any lobster you purchase arrives within 48 hours of being sent.

If the lobster does not arrive already wrapped, cover it in a layer of damp newspaper if you are not planning on cooking the lobster as soon as it arrives. Ensure that the newspaper is treated with saltwater and not tap water, as this will kill your lobster. Clear the coldest part of the fridge and fill it with ice packs before placing the lobster inside.

The coldness of the environment will keep your lobster docile by slowing down its metabolism.

What If My Lobster Dies Before Cooking?

Keeping your lobster alive before cooking is essential for the quality of the finished meal. When it first arrives, check for signs of life. You can do this by either touching the eyes or tail for reaction. If there is no reaction, you will need to cook the lobster immediately, store the meat once cooked, or start over.

It is prudent to regularly keep an eye on your lobster if you are storing it for the day before cooking. Check its status every 5-6 hours. These windows will ensure that if your lobster perishes upon a check, it won’t have fallen into an irreparable state and will still be safe to cook and eat if done so immediately.

Some telltale signs will inform you whether your lobster is still in an acceptable state to cook. Lobsters will begin to decompose soon after death and will quickly emit an unpleasant odour. You can also check your lobster’s tail. If the lobster tail meat has become mushy, then your lobster is no longer in an acceptable state.

It is always recommended to cook your lobster (and any shellfish) alive to kill off any harmful bacteria lurking under the shell.

Preparing Your Lobster for Cooking

Once you are in a position to cook your lobster, there are a couple of further checks to make before committing it to the pot.

All delivered lobsters should arrive with their claws restricted with thick bands. Even though they will be mostly sluggish throughout the entire process, there is still the risk that they will trap a loose finger if you were to take these bands off.

It will not affect the taste if you leave the bands on during the cooking process. If, for whatever reason, you need to remove them prior to cooking while your lobster is still alive, grip the base of the claw to prevent the lobster from opening it up and quickly cut the bands.

When transferring your lobster, hold the lobster firmly around the lower part of the outer shell, otherwise known as the carapace, and allow its head and legs to dangle. Instinctually it may flick its tail depending on its level of docility, but as long as it has been stored in a cold environment, there probably will not be much movement.

Take care when handling the tail. There are often spikes and rough edges on its underside that might catch you if your finger makes contact with them.

You must take the storing and preparation seriously if you want to avoid sub-standard ingredients and a finished product that ruins your culinary event. Follow these steps carefully, treat your lobster respectfully and with care, and you will have the perfect starting point to leave your guests wanting more.

3 Options for Cooking Live Lobster

Once you have prepared your lobster and ensured it is in the best possible condition, the time has finally come to cook it.

There are three methods that you can choose from.


You will only need around two or three inches of freshwater when choosing to steam your lobster and a steaming rack or insert. Once the water is to boil, add the lobster to the pot. You should insert the lobster tail first. Make sure to leave the lid askew to allow steam to vent and adjust its position throughout to ensure an even cook.

Cooking time will depend on the size of your lobster, with larger lobsters taking longer to cook, though, for a three-pound lobster, it should take no longer than half an hour.

Your lobster should be bright red when done.


You should fully submerge your lobster with this method. The cook times will generally be quicker with boiling, so a three-pound lobster should not stay in the pot for much longer than twenty minutes.

Boiling can result in overcooking. Pay particular attention if you are cooking more than one lobster simultaneously, as those towards the bottom of the pot will cook quicker. If the uppermost lobster in the pot reaches 180°, remove it from the heat.


You have the choice to dispose of your lobster before grilling by submerging it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes prior to cutting it up, but this isn’t essential. To humanely kill the lobster, place it onto its back and cut lengthwise. If you choose not to boil beforehand, there will still likely be residual movement even once the cut has been made.

Once cut, brush each half of the lobster with olive oil and grill for up to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of your lobster.

Grilling is the best way of cooking lobster tails. We have a wide variety of lobster tails for sale, ranging from our succulent Maine cold water lobster tails to our premier South African lobster tail, both perfect for the grill.

Lobster Meals and Recipes with All Fresh Seafood

Here at All Fresh Seafood, we have been delivering the freshest, most sustainable ingredients to our customers all over the country for more than 20 years. Though we are based in New York, we provide next- or second-day delivery no matter where you are located.

Not only do we provide restaurant-quality ingredients straight to your door, but you will also find a multitude of recipes and meal ideas written and devised by professional chef Adam Licht. When it comes to lobster specifically, why not check out this step-by-step guide for a delicious lobster rolls kit.

As well as all the exciting options we have for lobster, why not try one of our excellent trifecta meals, or treat your guests to blue point oysters and shrimp dumplings to create an unforgettable seafood feast.

Buy Lobster now! Good Luck.

About: Adam Licht, VP- Culinary Director at All Fresh Seafood
Adam Licht is a professional chef and fishmonger, started his career when he was given the opportunity to run a fish company at just 20 years old right out of culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America. All Fresh Seafood is one of the best seafood retailers in the nation. Stay connected via Instagram @AllFreshSeafood.