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How to Eat Lobster: Tips from a Maine Lobster Aficionado

How to Eat Lobster: Tips from a Maine Lobster Aficionado

Lobster is a delicacy enjoyed by many, but for those new to the experience, it can be intimidating to know where to start. Living in New England, I’ve had more lobster dinners than I can count. (Yes, that is a humble brag.) My first attempt at eating lobster was a bit confusing, but you can quickly get the hang of it with a good guide. (Like this one!)

From cracking open the tough shell to picking out the meat, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your lobster feast. We’ve put together this extensive guide on how to eat lobster to share our tips and tricks for enjoying this delicious crustacean.

Whether you’re a first-time lobster eater or a seasoned pro, read on to discover the best way to eat lobster. 

We cover the following items in this post:

Get Your Supplies Together

A man and woman wearing lobster bibs.

Before you start eating, you’ll need to gather the right supplies. You’ll need:

  • A nutcracker (also known as a lobster cracker) is essential for cracking open the tough shell of a lobster.
  • A bib is vital to protect your clothing from stray lobster juices. Some paper towels can do if you don’t have a bib available.
  • A small fork (also known as a seafood fork, lobster fork, or lobster pick) will come in handy for picking out the small pieces of meat from the claws and legs, allowing you to pick the meat without ruining it.
  • A butter dish to melt butter in and dip the lobster meat into. It can be used for other seasonings and sauces if you’d like.
  • A lemon on hand to add a refreshing, tangy taste to the dish.
  • Plenty of napkins.
  • A lobster!

Prepare Your Dipping Sauces, Seasonings, and Sides

Dipping Sauces and Seasoning

How to eat lobster with some melted butter.

When it comes to dipping sauces for lobster, melted butter is a classic choice. It’s simple and allows the natural flavor of the lobster to shine through.

However, if you’re looking to add a bit more flavor, there are many options.

  • Lemon juice can add a refreshing, tangy taste.
  • While garlic butter can add a little more depth.
  • Old Bay seasoning is a popular choice for those who like a bit more spice in their life.
  • Another way to add more flavor to your lobster is to use a seasoning blend. Some popular options include Cajun, Lemon pepper, or a combination of both. The possibilities are endless!


For sides, you can’t go wrong with classic options like creamy risotto, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, or coleslaw.

  • Corn on the cob pairs well with lobster and is a great option for summertime.
  • Baked potatoes are an excellent option for a more filling side and they complement the sweet lobster meat well.
  • Coleslaw adds a nice crunchy texture on the side.
  • And a creamy risotto always partners well with a seafood dish.

How to Eat Lobster

Begin With the Whole Lobster

When you first get your lobster, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

  1. The first step is to twist off the claws and legs. Hold the lobster firmly by the body, locate the joints where the claws and legs are attached to the body and twist them off. The lobster’s hard shell can cause you to use a bit of force to do this effectively.
  2. Then, crack them open with your nutcracker. Be careful not to crack the claws too much, or you’ll end up with shell fragments mixed in with the meat. If the claws are particularly large, you should first use a pair of kitchen shears to cut through the shell.

Remove The Lobster Tail – Twist it Off!

A lobster tail. How to eat lobster tails.

Once the claws and legs are cracked, move on to the tail.

To remove the lobster tail, locate the small flaps on either side of the tail, gently grasp the end of the tail, and twist it off the body. Once you remove the tail, use your nutcracker to crack it open.

The tail meat is the most sought-after part of the lobster, as it is the most tender and flavorful. To remove the tail meat, use a seafood fork to gently separate the meat from the shell, making sure not to break the meat.

Once you remove the meat, you can enjoy it as is or add it to a dish such as a lobster roll or salad.

Don’t Forget the Lobster Claw Meat

A lobster claw.

After you’ve removed the tail, don’t forget about the claw meat. The claw meat is usually a little tougher than the tail meat, but it is still packed with flavor. Some people don’t even know there is lobster claw meat, let alone know how to eat it!

Use your lobster fork to pick out the cooked lobster meat from the claws and legs. The meat from the larger claws will be a little more substantial and easier to remove.

To get to the meat, you’ll need to crack the claw open with your nutcracker. Be careful not to crack the claw too much, or you’ll end up with shell fragments mixed in with the meat.

Once the claw is cracked, use your lobster fork to remove the bits of meat from the shell. You can also use your fingers to remove the meat, but be careful as the shell can be sharp. The meat from the smaller legs can be a little more challenging to remove, but it’s worth the effort.

Finish Strong with The Lobster Knuckles and Legs

Finally, save the tomalley and the roe for a unique and tasty lobster treat. The tomalley is the green stuff found inside the body of the lobster, which performs the roles of both the lobster’s liver and pancreas, and is considered a delicacy by many. It is rich in flavor and is often used as a spread or added to sauces. 

The roe, also known as the coral, is the bright red egg sac found in the female lobster and is highly prized. The lobster roe has a unique taste and texture that is considered a delicacy. It can be eaten as is or used to make a sauce. 

The knuckles and legs of the lobster also contain meat that can be eaten, but it is often less tender than the meat in the tail and claws.

You may also be interested to know how to eat oysters. This guide provides everything you need to know!

What Part of Lobster Can’t You Eat?

While most of the lobster is edible, a few parts should not be consumed.

  • The intestinal vein, also known as the “sand vein,” runs through the tail and should be removed before cooking and eating. This can be removed by gently running a paring knife through the tail meat and discarding the vein.
  • The liver, also known as the “tomalley,” should not be consumed if the lobster is visibly ill or has died before cooking. It’s crucial to ensure that the lobster you’re eating is fresh and properly handled, as eating spoiled or contaminated lobster can make you sick. If you need more clarification about the freshness of your lobster, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid eating the tomalley.

Do You Eat Lobster Hot or Cold?

A lobster roll next to some fries.

Lobster can be eaten either hot or cold. It is traditionally boiled or steamed before serving, which cooks the meat through and makes it tender and succulent. Boiling and steaming are both easy methods that can be done at home. 

  • To boil a lobster, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add the live lobsters to the pot, cover, and cook for about 12-15 minutes for a 1-1.5-pound lobster.
  • To steam a lobster, fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water, bring it to a simmer and add a steaming basket or colander to hold the lobsters. Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes for a 1-1.5-pound lobster.

Lobsters can also be grilled, broiled, or eaten raw as sushi or sashimi. Grilling is a great way to give the lobster a smoky flavor and a nice char. Broiling is a quick and easy way to cook lobster; it’s perfect for when you’re short on time.

Some people prefer to eat lobster chilled. This is a popular way to enjoy a lobster roll, where the lobster meat is mixed with mayonnaise or butter and served in a bun. If you eat it cold, chill the lobster meat before serving it to enjoy the freshest and most succulent flavor.

I love lobster meat both hot and cold. If it’s cold, I definitely want it on a roll with some mayo and chips on the side!

Final Thoughts on Enjoying a Lobster Dinner

Eating lobster can be a delicious and enjoyable experience, but it can also be intimidating for those new to it. By following the tips and tricks shared in this blog post, you’ll be a lobster-eating savant in no time!

From getting the right supplies together to preparing your dipping sauces, seasonings, and sides, you’ll be able to enjoy your lobster in the best way possible. Remember to start by twisting off the claws and legs, then moving on to the tail, and don’t forget to save the tomalley and the roe for a unique and tasty treat.

Whatever your preference, whether hot or cold, enjoy it with your favorite sides and dipping sauce, and savor every bite of this delicious seafood!

Now that you know how to eat lobster, you may want to know more about lobsters. For those Friends fans out there, we’ve answered a burning question about these shellfish: do lobsters mate for life? The answer may surprise you!