Steamed Lobster

Happy Valentine’s Day if you’re celebrating!  In the spirit of the day, it seemed only fitting that the fourth film in this year’s 12 Days of Oscar would be something romantic in nature. Today’s film, the 1984 romantic comedy Splash was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the screen (and lost to Places in the Heart). Splash stars Tom Hanks as Allen Bauer who, while visiting Cape Cod with his family as a boy, jumps off of the ferry into the water where he is saved by a mermaid (Daryl Hannah). Years later, the mermaid comes ashore and is placed in Andy’s care telling him she will be visting for six days.

There are a lot of memorable scenes in Splash as Madison the mermaid visits New York.  She learns English watching game shows on the televisions at a department store, she names herself Madison after seeing a street sign for Madison Avenue, and perhaps my favorite is when she eats lobster at a fancy restaurant by biting through the shell. If you’ve never eaten a lobster, Real Simple has a handy video.  Eating lobster is a pretty messy affair whether you eat it like Madison does (which I really can’t recommend) or as the video suggests, so I’m a big fan of having lobster at home.  Steaming a lobster doesn’t have to be difficult but you do have to get over tossing a live lobster into a pot of steam so there’s that. I can’t help you get around that part; I’ll be the first to admit that I get someone else (my very brave husband) to handle it.  I use a stock pot with a steamer insert, but I have seen sources indicate that you can steam the lobsters using this method without the steamer insert.

steamed lobster

Steamed Lobster


  • 1 lobster per guest (I like to stay around 1- 1 1/4 lbs)
  • enough water to put 2 inches of water in a 4 to 5 gallon pot
  • 1 Tbsp. salt (optional- stir into the steaming water if using)


Fill a 4-5 gallon pot with 2 inches of water and insert the steamer insert.

Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.

You can either remove the rubber bands from the lobsters claws or leave them on.  I personally leave them on but it’s a matter of preference/ bravery.

Add the lobsters one at a time, head first, until the pot is full. A  4-5 gallon pot can hold about 6-8 lbs. of lobster so you might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your lobsters or your crowd.  If you can’t see to the bottom of the pot, use a second pot or steam them in batches. Do not overcrowd the pot.

Cover the pot and steam for 10 minutes for 1 lb. lobsters (12 minutes for 1 1/4 lb. lobsters, 14 minutes for 1 1/2 lb. lobsters). The cooking time is total time, not per pound of lobster.

Halfway through steaming, very carefully lift the lid so the steam exits away from you and shift the lobsters around so they cook evenly.

The lobster is done when cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Do not use the color to determine done-ness.  Lobsters will turn bright red before they are completely cooked.  If you don’t have or don’t wish to use a thermometer, you can check for done-ness by tugging on one of the antennae or small walking legs.  If the lobster is done, either one will come off easily.

Source: Tips from too many places to remember, and many steamed lobsters bravely prepared by my husband Lane.


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