How to Host a Live Lobster Party: Cooking and Prep Tips

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Learn everything you need to know to host a live lobster party!

Learn everything you need to know to host a live lobster party!

Cooking live lobsters and then eating them is one of those experiences that should be on every bucket list. While this is a popular event in coastal areas with plentiful lobsters, you can cook live lobsters in any virtually any location, as you can order live lobsters from many different online sources. It is not difficult to learn how to cook and eat lobsters, and it is well worth the price of the meat and supplies. Enjoy!

Necessary Supplies

  • Stove or outdoor heating element, such as a high-pressure outdoor gas cooker: You can use any regular stove to cook lobsters. If you are cooking them outdoors, I recommend a high-pressure outdoor gas cooker.
  • Large pot with a steamer basket and lid for the lobsters: The size of the pot that you will need will depend on how many lobsters you want to cook at one time. A steamer basket is not required, but it will make it easier to put the lobsters in and then remove them from the pot.
  • Small pot for the butter: Melted butter is a must for fresh lobster! Any small pot will be fine for melting it. You can also choose to use a microwave-safe container.
  • Tongs: Hopefully it's a given that cooked lobsters are really hot. You'll want to use tongs to remove them from the pot.
  • Lobster crackers or nutcrackers: You will need some type of crackers to break the cooked lobster shells.
  • Wooden skewers for picking out the lobster meat: Look for wooden skewers in the kitchen section of big box stores or the cooking supplies (pots, utensils, etc.) section of grocery stores.
  • Knives: You can pull lobster meat apart with your fingers, but you may decide to cut some of it, particularly when it is not.
  • Newspaper for the table: Sheets of newspaper or disposable tablecloths are the easiest way to clean up all of the lobster shells and other meal remains afterward.
  • Small cups or dishes for the butter: People can take individual servings of butter from the larger melting pan or dish.
  • Lots of napkins and wet wipes: Fresh lobster is a very messy finger food. Don't skimp on the napkins and wet wipes. You may also want to provide plastic lobster bibs like you get in restaurants to prevent some of the spray from cracking the shells.

Food Items for Your Shopping List

  • Fresh 1 to 1.25 lb lobsters: You can choose to purchase larger lobsters if you like. If you purchase this size lobster, you'll need about one lobster per person. Adjust accordingly for larger lobsters.
  • Saltwater or other broth for cooking the lobsters: Fill your pot 3/4 with water or broth. Add 2 tablespoons of salt for every quart of liquid (source). Many people also choose to add homemade or store-bought vegetable stock or some combination of herbs, broth, and wine.
  • Lots of butter for dipping: You'll need 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter for each person.
  • Any sides that you like (salads, fruit, desserts, etc.): Fresh lobster can easily be a meal in and of itself, but many people choose to serve sides with it.

Optional Cooking Broth Additions


Lemon Juice


Red Pepper Flakes

Vegetable Stock or Broth

Bay Leaves

Chicken Stock or Broth




Where to Purchase Live Lobsters

If you live in an area with a fresh food market, a high-end grocery store with a dedicated meat department, and/or a specialty meat grocery store, it is likely that you'll be able to purchase live lobsters locally.

There are also a number of options for ordering live lobsters online. Call or browse around to get price quotes and to learn more about shipping options. For the event pictured in this article, we purchased 1- to 1.25-pound lobsters from the Milwaukee Public Market for approximately $15 per lobster. (Please note: That figure is accurate as of July 2015. Availability and price are subject to change at any time without notice.)

Online Sources for Live Lobsters


Tips for the Set-Up Process

  • Research your broth options ahead of time: If you are interested in using a homemade vegetable or chicken stock or other broth that requires additional cooking time, you will need to have it ready before you start to cook the lobsters. Make sure that you allow an adequate amount of time for this preparation.
  • Research your cooking options ahead of time: There will be different cooking logistics for indoor and outdoor food preparation. Consider the methods that you want to use for cooking your lobster and your side dishes and make sure that you have a plan for getting everything cooked and heated so that your serving schedule goes smoothly.
  • Cover your serving table(s) with newspaper or other disposable coverings before you lay out any of the food, utensils, and tools: Eating freshly cooked lobsters is a very messy process. You can significantly reduce your clean up time by covering your eating surfaces with materials that are disposable.

How to Cook the Lobsters

  1. Heat the saltwater or broth until it is boiling. Do not put the lobsters in the water until the water is boiling.
  2. Load the lobsters in your steamer head first or get ready to plunge the lobsters in headfirst. Whichever method you choose for adding your lobsters to the pot, make sure that you put them in headfirst.
  3. Cover the pot. Open it occasionally to stir. The lobsters will cook themselves largely undisturbed.
  4. Follow the cooking times table below. The table below will give you accurate cooking estimates for lobsters of different weights. When lobsters are fully cooked, they will be bright red as you typically see when lobsters are served in restaurants.

Lobster Cooking Times













4 per pound

Cooking Times Source

How to Eat Lobster

You can choose to complete these steps in a different order if you find it easier to start with one component of the lobster over another.

  1. Take the lobster tail in one hand and the body in your other hand. Bend the tail away from the body and give a good pull to get them apart. When you open it up, you'll see the green "tomalley," which is the lobster's liver. If you have a female lobster, you'll also see the bright red "coral" or roe. Some people choose to eat one or both of these things. This is completely optional.
  2. Give the tail a few hard squeezes to loosen the shell so you can pull it off. Pull the top of the tail off to remove the digestive vein.
  3. You will most likely need to use a cracker to remove the shell from the body. Once you've removed the shell, you'll be able to pull out all of the meat.
  4. It depends on the size of the lobster as to whether you want to eat the knuckle and leg meat and how you want to crack those shells. Most likely you will be able to follow a similar procedure to the tail of bending them back and then prying off the shell. Feel free to use the crackers again or to use a pair of scissors to cut through the shell, particularly with the knuckles.
  5. Once you have extracted your meat, make sure to dip it in the melted butter before you eat it.

Video: How to Eat Lobster

The Aftermath and Cleaning Up

  • The aftermath: If you've had a successful lobster party, you'll have a messy table full of lobster shells and empty butter cups. Everyone will be satisfied and will have greasy, orange fingers and happy smiles.
  • Cleanup: The newspaper and/or disposable tablecloths will make the cleanup process go quickly. Remove all of the silverware, lobster crackers, and other utensils and items that you don't want to throw away. Then simply scoop up all of the lobster shells and other remains and throw it all away at once. A large garbage bag and/or garbage can will make the process even easier.

© 2012 Rose Clearfield


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 28, 2012:

I'm sorry that you feel that way. As I've mentioned in previous comments, I did not write this article to start a discussion about eating vegetarian or whether or not people think it is humane to kill lobsters using this method. This is purely an informational article for those who are interested in cooking lobsters and/or hosting seafood parties. If you don't fall into one of those categories, then this article is not for you. I do not go out of my way to comment on articles that have viewpoints that disagree from my own unless I have something constructive to contribute to the topic. I appreciate it when others adhere to this as well.

Melissa A Smith from New York on August 28, 2012:

Wow, I don't find what I said offensive or irrelevant. I am not a vegetarian, but if people are going to conduct/promote parties where animals are killed privately, the welfare of the animal should be addressed and included in this article.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 28, 2012:

Thanks so much, viewfinders and c2mtech!

c2mtech from Dallas on August 28, 2012:

I just love the way you describe procedure. Great hub, thanks for sharing it with us.

viewfinders from India on August 27, 2012:

great hub, thanks for sharing such a detailed recipes with us.....enjoyed going through it and shared....

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 2012:

I bet! It's great to have access to such fresh food. It's wonderful that you enjoy living there. Have fun at the clam boil. I'm sure that would make a great topic for an article. Take care. :)

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on August 27, 2012:

Yes, no matter where I go, people are eating seafood around here! I am going to a clam boil next week. Sounds like a good photo op and possibly a Hub! I am very lucky to have such fresh delicious seafood where I live. I just couldn't imagine not being near the ocean. Again, this really is an awesome and thoroughly complete Hub. Kudos to you!


Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 2012:

Thanks so much, praestio!

J.S., the East Coast is the place to be for those who love seafood. You'll have to eat some lobster before the summer is over. Thanks! :)

JS Matthew from Massachusetts, USA on August 27, 2012:

I guess I am lucky! I am from the East Coast and we get the best lobsters in the world! In fact, I haven't had lobster this summer. Now I think that is in my near future! Great Hub! You included everything there is to know about the process of cooking these delicious sea creatures. Congratulations on the Hub of the Day! Well deserved. Voted and shared.


prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on August 27, 2012:

I love lobster and I love your tips as well. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 2012:

Thanks, ComfortB! I'm sure that the live crabs were delicious. You'll have to give it a try with lobsters sometime.

Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on August 27, 2012:

I for one looove to eat lobster or any seafood for that matter except for maybe octopus. You did a great job showing how to cook and eat them. Which by the way, is our God given right.

I've used the same method with live crabs, but have never tried it with live lobster. Great hub. Voted Up, and congrats for the HOTD award!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 2012:

Rain Defence, thanks for that clarification.

Thanks, security! Good luck with that.

DzyMsLizzy and amithak50, I did not write this article to get into a debate about the humanity of killing animals or eating vegetarian. This article is purely intended as a resource for those who are interested in cooking live lobsters and having a lobster party or simply want to learn more about the topic. If you don't agree with the process that most people use to cook lobsters, you don't have to do it or partake in such an event.

securityproducts3 on August 27, 2012:

This really gets me amped up to host a live lobster party. Now I just need to find a way to pay for it!

amithak50 from India on August 27, 2012:

@randomcreative We should be Vegetarian that's the answer,we have no right to kill anyone

Rain Defence from UK on August 27, 2012:

Hi, I said on my first comment that they never scream. It's simply the sound of steam escaping the shells. They're not capable of screaming, people just mistakenly think they do. Whether they're out of it or not is irrelevant! Anyway I will have to eat some this summer and will check this hub again when I do.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on August 27, 2012:

Congratulations on HOTD--but that's as far as I'm going. ;-)

I admit to not reading the article, because I could not ever do this. Care and concern of the welfare and humane treatment of animals is one of the main reasons I became a vegetarian so many years ago. Knowing deep in my heart that I do not have it in me to kill any animal, I consider it a cop-out to have it done for me, and the process "sanitized" if you will, by some anonymous producer. I would not care to be dropped, still alive, into a boiling hot water or steam bath, so I cannot do it to any other creature. Sorry.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 2012:

All animals that we eat were killed at some point. Many people don't experience that first hand anymore, so this can be a unique experience.

amithak50 from India on August 27, 2012:

Well ,killing someone and enjoying at the same time ..so sad

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 2012:

Thank you for all of the feedback and comments today!

HouseBuyersUS, that bruschetta sounds delicious. Thanks for the suggestion.

pstraubie48, I'm glad that this article is useful for you and your friends! I would share one of these lobsters with everyone if I could.

bankscottage, you're right that Maine is the best place to get lobster. Enjoy while you're there! That's a great price.

leahlefler, that would be amazing. I have been to a lobster party like this in Maine, but it was many many years ago.

Rain Defence, our lobsters definitely did not scream. We purchased them at least 5-6 hours before we cooked them, though, so they were pretty out of it by the time we got the water going.

suzettenaples, thanks so much! That means a lot to me.

Cyndi, I am not a huge seafood fan either, but I would give fresh lobster a try sometime. It's wonderful.

Alissa, honestly I don't think I'd be brave enough to do it all on my own either, but it's awesome to have the knowledge. People will be happy to come and help you out with the process if they can enjoy some of the lobsters. :)

Janine, that's great!

Your Cousins, that's neat about having live shellfish at your farmers market. We ate these lobsters outside, which took care of most of the mess, but a bib is still helpful no matter where you eat them.

Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on August 27, 2012:

You covered all the bases on this great HOTD. I would love to host a live lobster party. We can get live shellfish at our farmer's market in season. But I always have to use my lobster bib (sigh) because I'm quite messy.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on August 27, 2012:

Congratulation on the hub of the day! I love lobster! This is a very thorough instruction on cooking and eating lobster. Voted up and awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on August 27, 2012:

Growing up and living in NY near the beach, we had lobsters quite often. You truly brought back so many great memories of summers gone by with parents as a kid. That said congrats Rose on the HOTD and very well deserved on this one. Have voted up and shared too!!

Mazlan A from Malaysia on August 27, 2012:

You sure had an awesome time and this is an awesome hub. Very informative and interesting. Congratulation on making it to HOTD.

kelleyward on August 27, 2012:

What a fun and helpful hub! Congrats on HOTD! Voted up , useful, and interesting. Also Pinned!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on August 27, 2012:

Awesome hub and very well deserving of an HOTD. I don't think you left anything out, great detailed instructions!

Keeley Shea from Norwich, CT on August 27, 2012:

Congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved! Love lobster - wish I had some lobster right now! Very detailed and really well written. Voted up and USEFUL!!!! :)

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on August 27, 2012:

Hi, congrats on Hub of the Day. This was great reading and instructional. It was also verrrry mouth watering. I love lobster. So well done.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on August 27, 2012:

Hi Random, and what a great hub this is.

Lobster is my all time favorite food; however, I have been to a party like this one. I've bought live lobsters before, but kill them and take them appart before cooking them, which is not easy. Nevertheless, I've only done this only a few times in my life as lobsters are very expensive! I'll have to try it this way one day.

Congrats on winning HODT and take care


Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on August 27, 2012:

I wouldn't know the first thing about cooking live lobsters so I found this hub to be super useful. Maybe with your guidance I will be brave enough to cook these little guys one of these days :) Congrats on your well deserved hub of the day!

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on August 27, 2012:

Congrats on your hub of the day! What a nice start to the week after a wonderful weekend! I admit I'm not a big seafood fan, but your beautiful hub just *might* have me convinced to at least try a little lobster. :D

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on August 27, 2012:

I read this hub when you posted it originally and I am so happy to see it is HOTD! Congratulations on this hub! It is one of the best hubs I have seen on HP in a long time. You have certainly covered everything in detail on how to cook lobster (brings back great Maine memories for me) and how to have an outdoor party with all this. Your videos are great. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us!

Jasmine JellyBaby on August 27, 2012:

What a delicious hub.. I'm physically craving for lobsters after reading this. Well done and congrats on being Hub of the Day.

Rain Defence from UK on August 27, 2012:

This has made me feel very hungry. I noticed that someone pointed out they don't like the sound of lobsters screaming in the pot. Well you may already know this, but for those who don't, the lobsters don't scream, it's just the sound of air escaping their shells as they heat up.

Yum anyway, I now want to eat some lobster!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 27, 2012:

Oh, lobster. YUM! I really want to head to Maine next summer to experience a lobster bake. I think seafood is divine, and lobster is so delicious!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on August 27, 2012:

Congratulations on HOTD for this awesome hub!

Mark Shulkosky from Pennsylvania on August 27, 2012:

Congratulations on HOD, randomcreative. Great detail and very informative.

I'm heading to Maine (the best place to get Maine lobster) next week. Last time I was there, 1 to 1.25 pound lobsters were under $4 per pound not far from my camp. Sometimes we like to cook them ourselves, but often it is just easier to head on over to one of our favorite lobster pounds.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 27, 2012:

Thanks so much for providing all of this detailed info to us.

Who doesn't love lobster? I just had the most divine lobster bisque down in a cool little restaurant situated not 40 feet from the passing waters that moved swiftly by as we dined.

This is a hub I will share with my friends and family as we are HUGE seafood lovers.

Everything we need for planning is provided right here.

We have live crab parties, spreading out the newspaper and digging in.

This will need to be our new seafood party. Congratulations on hub of the day. I just wanted to reach in and help myself to the lobsters in your photograph.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 06, 2012:

Thanks so much, suzettenaples! I'm glad that you found this helpful, and I'm glad that it brought back those memories. There is nothing like eating fresh lobster in pain. I've never tried buying lobster online, but there are a lot of options out there for it. If I were going to that, I'd ask around...see if there are reviews on forums and whatnot before ordering anything.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on August 06, 2012:

Wonderful, beautiful hub. You give all the necessary information for preparing, cooking and eating lobster. I especially like the instructions on how to crack and eat a lobster. There is a right way to do that. This brings back so many memories of my summers in Maine, cooking and eating lobster out the wazoo. This hub is great and so are the videos. How do you find the lobster bought on line? Do you find it fresh enough? I usually don't eat lobster anywhere but in Maine, because the taste just is not the same. But, I have never tried buying it on-line. Thanks so much for the information and your experiences!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 06, 2012:

Thanks, vesapawoolf! I'm sure that it was a blast eating oysters outside like that, too.

MelChi, honestly our lobsters didn't really scream. At all. Lobsters do have nerves, but they don't have the brain capacity to understand what is happening to them. I don't know anything about the freezing method so I can't vouch for whether that method produces the same flavor as the straight boiling method.

Melanie Chisnall from Cape Town, South Africa on August 06, 2012:

I think I must be overly sensitive because to me the thought of cooking a live lobster is just horrible. I've watched it on TV and the sounds of them squealing for their lives is horrific :( I watched an episode of MasterChef Australia where they actually taught the contestants that lobsters feel pain too, and that a much more humane way of cooking them is to freeze them solidly in the freezer for a few days and then boil them. I understand the need for cooking them, but I'm just not a fan of boiling living creatures while they're still alive and can feel pain. Oversensitive maybe, but it's just a suggestion and something I found interesting as a tip from a few well known chefs. Other than that, I really enjoyed reading your hub!

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on August 06, 2012:

I love this hub...what a blast! I've never eate lobster outdoors, although in Charleston our friends often serve steamed oysters this way. Your setup and photos are great, as well. Voted up and shared!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 04, 2012:

Thanks, kr! I'm glad that you enjoyed this. I live in the center of the US, too, so you know that even the fresh lobster is getting shipped in somewhere. I've never lived on a coast so I can't tell the difference at least. :)

Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 04, 2012:

I will eat lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Awesome hub about lobster partying and etiquette! It's good to learn some new tricks. Living in the center of the US means that our "fresh" lobster comes from the franchise restaurants, not the ocean. I'm unsure how fresh it really is. Love this hub! -K

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 03, 2012:

I think that I'm missing something here...thanks, though!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on August 02, 2012:

Oh my! I thought you were having a lobster party :)) sorry I couldn't resist. (good report)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 02, 2012:

Haha no I definitely did not host a lobster party just so I could get an article out of it. One of our friends is a professional chef, and she's been hosting this annual event for 5 years now.

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 02, 2012:

Makes me want to have a lobster party right now! So I'm wondering...did you host a lobster party so you can make a hub about it? LOL, the other night I made a nice dinner and Andrew was all grateful until he realized, I had an ulterior motive. heehee :)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 02, 2012:

Thanks! I think that it was definitely worth the work to turn it into a picnic event like that.

Edi on August 02, 2012:

YUM! I love the idea of turning this event into a picnic like you did :) Looks like so much fun and worth the work!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 02, 2012:

Thanks, Vicki! The little demonstration video is one of our friends who was hosting this event with her husband. She's a professional chef.

Thanks, Carol! There are a ton of places to order them online if you can't get them locally.

carol stanley from Arizona on August 02, 2012:

You did a great job on this lively lobster hub. Now I just have to find a place to get these lovely creatures. Thanks for sharing all this information so clearly.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 01, 2012:

Who is in the video, Random? I love this hub. You have all the great elements. The layout and explanations are excellent.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 01, 2012:

Thanks, Debbie!

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on August 01, 2012:

Maine lobsters are the best.. but i love them all.. I will not turn I will post this in cooking page on Facebook.. great hub


Related Articles