How to Eat Lobster (VIDEO)

It sounds like a dream and then that whole crustacean is plopped down in front of you on a giant platter and you realize… you have no clue how to eat it!

whole lobster on a marble slab with tools


How to Eat a Lobster

Eating lobster is a way of life for New Englander’s, particularly in Maine and Massachusetts, but for the rest of us, we need a simple tutorial.

Rest assured that after you pick your first lobster (I use than term because I am from Maryland where we pick crabs) you’ll always know how to do it and will get faster and faster. It is like riding a bike.

It’s also the same set of instructions if you are just needing to steam and pick a lobster for meat for another recipe.

More lobster recipes:

lobster claw with clarified butter
Get a Lobster Butter Recipe!

Before you get started, know that there will be water and there will be mess. Have some paper towels ready and be in a work space that can stand to get a little dirty, like a large cutting board or a welled plate.

Steps for Getting Lobster Meat Out

ONE. Twist off large claws, set aside. I like to get all my meat out and then eat, but you can eat it as you go if you’d like.

TWO. Twist off the tail. It should remove easily with just a little wrist action- no special tools needed. You now have 4 large pieces- the body, tail and two claws. 

lobster in four pieces

THREE. I like to start with the tail because this is the largest piece of whole meat. Place the tail with bottom side down, smooth, pretty side up. Using both hands, squish the bottom, thinner shell together.

It will collapse easily and the top of the shell should easily remove from the meat leaving you with a whole piece of tail meat. If you notice a lot of black- that is the intestine and can be removed. 

There might be green and black stuff. The green stuff is called tomalley and is edible, in fact used in some delicacies, but is only eaten in moderation. The black stuff is the “poop chute” and can be discarded.

meat removed from a lobster tail

FOUR. Next, the claws, because they also carry a good amount of meat. Wiggle smaller hinged portion of each claw to separate. It usually comes out with a tendon and sometimes meat.

Break open claws using a cracking tool, cracking 1 side and then flipping them to crack other side, and remove meat. You might need to use a pick, skewer or fork to get smaller pieces. 

meat removed from a lobster claw

FIVE. Now, the legs. The least amount of meat is in the legs and some folks don’t even bother, but real lobster lovers leave no meat behind. The larger legs that were attached to the claws have the most bang for your buck, so start there.

Break open each knuckle and wiggle out as much meat as you can, poking through with a skewer or seafood fork. If you are at home, you can roll smaller legs with a rolling pins and the meat will push out the end. 

legs and head from a lobster

SIX. Lastly, the body. Many will toss the body aside and I don’t blame you. Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot and other times you’ll get nothing. The body is also great to keep if you plan to make a seafood stock

This is kind of like picking blue crabs, avoid the feathery looking pieces on the side, these are the lungs and inedible. Looks between the little cartilage lined pieces on the side and you might find pockets of meat. 

Looking for more information about lobsters? Here are a few fun facts!

  • During Colonial times, lobster was considered to be the “poor man’s food”, a bottom feeding crustacean, it was fed to livestock.
  • Only Maine lobsters have claws, Caribbean lobsters called spiny lobsters, have no claws.
  • Lobsters can live as long as 100 years. They rarely get “sick” and die, they need to be preyed on.
  • Lobsters continue to grow through their life, so a lobster can grow up to 40 pounds! That puts your pricy 7 pound lobster to shame. Ha!
  • Lobsters are a great form of protein, omega 3 fatty acids and are low in fat and calories (until you add the butter….)
  • Lobster molt their shells through the lifecycle, also known as soft-shelled lobster, kind of like soft-shelled crab. They are plentiful from July-October.
  • Live lobsters aren’t red, they are blue, yellow or brownish.
how to eat a lobster for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. It really helped when you talked about how to eat a lobster the right way. Recently, my wife and I started to try different types of foods. We’re visiting a new restaurant each week, and now we want to try a lobster one, so we’ll be sure to read your piece carefully. Thanks for the advice on lobsters and their eating techniques!

  2. It IS a dream, and I’m all about it! Thanks for the helpful tips on how to tackle eating an entire lobster. I can’t wait until I can sit down to one.