Butter Poached Lobster with Fresh Tomatoes



lobster, butter, how to cook lobster

I enjoy lobster cooked any which way, though I do think that my least favorite way (other than overcooked) is steamed or boiled lobster, as the high heat that it’s usually cooked on ruins the texture of the delicate meat. If I’m going to pay $16.99 per pound for a whole lobster, it better darn well melt in my mouth.

Instead of boiled lobster, I enjoy Lobster Carpaccio (a recipe from Nobu) and lobster slow-poached in a creamy, buttery sauce. Throw in the freshest tomatoes you can find, maybe some fresh herbs and I’ll be as happy as a clam human (I don’t think clams eat lobster)

If you’re squeamish about handling a live lobster, that’s totally okay. Many people are, including 9 out of 10 squeamish teenage grocery store cashiers who have to ring it up.

But let’s just say that if you’re really not into bringing a live lobster home, you can still make this dish.

You can use lobster tails.

Or, if your seafood department has complimentary steaming service (many do!) – have them steam the lobster for exactly 3 minutes and then immediately package it in ice to cool the lobster off. When you get home, remove the meat from the lobster and continue the recipe with the butter poaching.

If you’re okay with live lobsters, go for it.

There are many theories on how best to prepare the lobster for its final moments – some suggest you freeze the lobster for a few minutes to slow down its metabolism and put it to “sleep”, some suggest piercing a knife in its head to kill instantly.

Our method was a family decision – the kids pet the lobster and thank Buddha for providing such delicious creatures.

“Ahhh, Good lobstah….you had a good life in the tank. May you reincarnate into a butterfly”

For whole live lobster

Boil a big pot of water, add in the lobster and for 3 minutes. I don’t want the lobster to cook all the way – I just want to partially cook the lobster and make it easier to remove the meat.

Instead of using the traditional lobster/crab cracking devices, I use little sharp kitchen shears. Makes less of a mess, the lobster meat comes out cleanly and most importantly, I don’t get lobster juice squirtin’ in my eye (which usually happens when I use those stupid metal cracking tongs)

See, this is much easier, no? Just cut straight down the middle (shell only) and peel back.

Same thing with the knuckle. Just snip the shell.

And the big claw.

If you’re the patient sort, you can tear off the itty bitty skinny legs and try to extract the meat from them too. Some people use a rolling pin to squeeze the meat out, but I’ve found that it results in more eye-squirtin’ lobster juice than I’m comfortable with.

For Lobster Tails

No need to dunk in hot water – just use a pair of kitchen shears, cut shell along length of back. Flip lobster tail over, cut shell along length of bottom (between its tiny feetsies). Pry shell open, remove meat and freeze the shell to make seafood stock.


Lobster Ready? Let’s Proceed!

This is the buttah for the lobstah. If you’re cooking more than one lobster, you can add more butter. I’ve used just one stick and cut it into small pieces.

In a pot just like this, start with 2 tablespoons of water over medium-low heat. Once it starts bubbling, add one piece of butter and whisk. When the butter has melted, add another piece, and so on and so on until you’ve used all the pieces.

Slowly adding the butter will help it emulsify – which basically means mixing two liquids together that normally don’t mix well (water and oil). What you’re after is a light yellow, creamy, buttery sauce called “beurre monte”…. NOT melted butter with white globs of milk solids (is there a fancy French term for this?)

To do this, you have to use low heat and add the butter pieces at a time. Make sure the mixture does not boil – otherwise it will separate.

Keep the heat on medium-low and add the lobster pieces and poach for 5 minutes. Every minute or so, I’ll turn the lobster.

Then remove the lobster. Now it’s time to gently cook the garlic and tomatoes for just a couple of minutes.

Finish off with some fresh basil and done!


Butter Poached Lobster with Fresh Tomatoes

Servings: Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter. Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes

I recommend using salted butter, which is all the salt that's needed to flavor the dish. If you're using unsalted butter, you might want to season with a bit of salt while cooking the tomatoes. An important tip is to make sure the butter mixture does not come to a boil - keep the heat low so that the butter emulsifies (turns into a nice, smooth creamy sauce) instead of breaking up.


1 3/4 pound live lobster (or 2 uncooked lobster tails)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick), cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
2 tomatoes, cut into large chunks
few fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


1. **If you are using lobster tails: Use sharp kitchen shears to cut shell of lobster all the way down its back. Turn over and cut bottom shell all the way down. Peel off shell and remove meat. Continue with step 2.

**If using live whole lobster - bring a large pot of water to boil. Turn off heat and add the lobster. Cover with lid and let cook for 3 minutes. Remove all lobster meat from shell and cut into large chunks.

2. In a sauce pan, bring 1 tablespoon of water to simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in 1 piece of butter. When butter had melted, add another piece. Continue with remaining butter pieces, one at a time. Make sure the mixture does NOT come to a boil, otherwise the butter will separate.

3. Keeping the heat on medium-low, add the lobster pieces and cook for 5 minutes, turning the lobster pieces every minute or so. Make sure mixture does not boil. Remove lobster pieces and divide amongst the 2 serving bowls.

4. In the same saucepan with the remaining butter, turn the heat up just a bit, add the garlic. When fragrant, add the tomatoes and cook for just a couple of minutes until the tomatoes have released some of the juices. I like to gently smash the tomatoes a bit so more juice comes out. Throw in the basil and you're done. Spoon tomatoes over lobster and serve immediately.

Other Lobster Recipes

Lobster Mac & Cheese | Steamy Kitchen

Lobster Carpaccio | Steamy Kitchen

Grilled Lobster with Garlic Butter Sauce | Steamy Kitchen on Tasty Kitchen

Boiled Lobster Recipe, How to Cook and Eat Lobster | Simply Recipes

Lobster Yee Mein (Lobster Noodles) Recipe | Rasa Malaysia

Lobster Rolls | Apartment Therapy

use leftover lobster shell & head to make Lobster Bisque

And for a real treat, watch my friend (and incredibly talented storyteller/videographer) Liza de Guia’s video on Lobster Rolls.

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Comments 66

  1. Emily @ domestic geekery

    I have to say, I’m not a big fan of lobster. I think that a lot has to do with how it’s been prepared. But this recipe looks so amazing that I may have to surprise the boyfriend with it for a special occasion. I’d definitely have to get just the lobster tail, I can’t even get up the nerve to cut up a whole fish yet…

  2. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle

    Lobster. Probably my most favorite thing in the whole world and yet such a rarity. $10.99/lb. Really? Not in Denver. Mostly available as frozen lobster tails that go for $28-30 lb it’s just not something that lands on our table often. This looks so decadent and amazing and, well, I’m just jealous of the abundance you have compared to the Rocky Mountains!

    But I do have to share. Many years ago some friends had me over for dinner and fresh lobster. My wonderful (ahem) husband had just decided to leave our family for a young twit and my friends were trying to cheer me up…with, of course, my very favorite food.

    Is it wrong that I named the two lobsters after him and the twit and actually took a bit of delight in plunging them headfirst into a pot of boiling water? It was cathartic for me and kept me out of prison and my girls out of foster care, so I’m thinking it was all for good…and delicious!

  3. Debi(Table Talk)

    You know the holidays are right around the corner when we all start talking about butter so freely…suddenly it’s okay again.
    This looks fantastic, and I know it was delicious!

  4. Kalyn

    This is seriously making me drool. However lobsters are not even remotely affordable in Salt Lake, so I save that for a restaurant splurge. (Then I don’t have to deal with the idea of killing them, but your kids affirmations sound fun.)

  5. Debra Samuels

    Now you just taught a Boston girl (via NY) a new lobstah trick — cutting the shells with shears. I thought it was virtuous (or a punishment) to have those spiny spikes pierce my skin trying to extract precious little meat from the shells. What kind of scissors – made of kryptonite?

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Publix has them at $10.99 a pound, though a couple of weeks ago, I saw the price dip down to $9.99 a pound. Sweetbay’s price is $11.99 the last I checked.

  6. Lindsay @ The Ketchup Diaries

    Aw, the pictures of the live to steamed lobster made me sad. But only for a minute because I want to eat this. Haha.

  7. Sasa

    Mmm, lobster. In NZ it’s called crayfish I think, or are they 2 different things? I’ll be chowing down on some at Christmas because it’s a summer Christmas there, no chance of making this here in Austria (boo)…In a restaurant I used to work in we did the triple whammy; fridge to make ’em sleepy, stab between the eyes to kill and then a quick dunk to poach.

  8. Silvia

    Looks great! I live in lobsta land, and here a pound is $4.99 🙂 The best way to eat it are the road-side lobster stands. Never had anything else but perfectly steamed lobster but your option looks good, too.

    Sometimes wonder about my karma, with all the lobster I eat.

  9. elizabeth

    When I was young, my family used to summer in Maine (okay, it was A LOT less snooty than it sounds). We’d stay at this B&B every year, the owners became close family friends, and they’d cook lobster for us a few times during our trip.

    The trick they taught me for killing the lobsters was to boil the water and then hold the lobster over the steam so it passes out and then plunge it into the water. You HAVE to do it over an empty pot, though. Lobsters are smart and when they see a fellow lobster at the bottom of the pot they freak out and start flailing everywhere.

  10. Maykong

    This looks AMAZING! I love the simplicity of the ingredients. Will HAVE to try this. I am a little bit squeamish about cooking the live lobster though.

  11. kyn_a

    Holy cow does that look awesome! Having the unfortunate affliction of a serious lobster allergy, the closest I can to it is to look at incredible things like this! I’m insanely jealous that I don’t get to eat that!

  12. Kim in MD

    This looks and sounds absolutely amazing, Jaden! Too bad I’m deathly allergic to lobster! If I weren’t, I would SO make this tonight! YUM!

  13. bunkycooks

    I will take lobster any way I can get it, but your dish really looks wonderful. I just can’t deal with cooking the lobster. Mr. Bunkycooks will have to take care of that part.

  14. Kathryn

    Hey! Just stopping by to let you know we’re giving away a signed Sandra Lee cookbook with 1,001 recipes over at Chew on That! We’d love for you to enter! The giveaway ends on Halloween, so hurry over! 🙂

  15. Kiran

    We got to meet up when I am down in Tampa. Gotta cook up a storm of food with you Jaden 🙂 And this lobster is first up on our list!

  16. Chris

    Exceptional post as always, Jaden.

    Love the part about blessing the lobstah by Buddha before poaching it in buttah. Nice touch!

    I have seen the butter poaching technique and have been wanting to try it. But I hadn’t wanted to mess with clarifying as much butter as I needed.

    Now I want to go get me a lobster!

  17. Judy

    yuuummmm… I’ve always been rather hesitant to cook lobster at home. There’s never any recipe I think I can handle to do justice to this wonderful lobster. Especially if they’re expensive (and it usually is, here). This sounds simple and lovely, and the basil is a nice touch!

  18. MikeW

    That looks wonderful! I love Lobster (seafood in general) and butter too! What else cold you want in a meal?

    Jean (my wife) loves lobster too, but I end up having to clean it for her. If I separate the pieces & crack them she’ll take it from there, but with complaints. She’ll love this dish — tasty & she doesn’t have to work for her food.

    Oh, and I get all of the legs. Crush them between your teeth & suck out the tasty bits of meat.

  19. rita

    that is just making me drool so badly! if only lobsters here in germany are that inexpensive, i would get a dozen! ahahaha! i don’t even think that the commissary (US grocery store inside the base) can sell it for that cheap. even if it does, it’s so rare that – when that would happen, and it would be gone in a jiffy. siiiigh.

  20. sara

    Oh dear. My life is now insufferably lacking. I must buy a creepy crawly lobster to make this. Also, boxes and boxes of butter. The End.

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  25. Charlie

    May I come for dinner ………….. PLEEEEASE?!

    Seriously this sounds and looks so good!

    When I had my precious Michael, I made drawn (clarified) butter to serve with the lobster.

    This sounds even better, and then the drawn butter on the side.

    Love my Butter!

    Thank you for sharing!

  26. Luciana from Brazil!!!

    Dearest J,
    I’ve been folowing for a long time now! I’ve followed all the layout updates, the laurels you’ve been (deservely) collecting throughout the last years – and the reason I keep on coming back to Steamy Kitchen is the flavour of REAL I get from your charming posts, your accessible recipes, and your lovely kids taking part in the process, and the familiar tone you spread all over! Just so you know: you have a loyal fan in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!
    So when my father-in-law sent some lobster tails (!) by mail (!) all the way from the native norstheatern city of my husband (Recife!!!) in a thermal container, I had to look up some trustworthy source for inspiration (I had never cooked lobster before today!). And the birthday boy (my husband) was very pleased with the result!!! (although my self-criticism tells me I shouldn’t have cooked the tomatoes that long… =) but hey! I’m not beating myself up for THAT!).
    So, in short: I wanted to send you a big Thank You!!!! Boy, am I happy (maybe it’s all the chardonnay we had with it, but still)!!! 😉
    By the way: the best lobster I’ve ever had!

  27. Charlie

    Hello Jaden:
    I love how your children have such a down to earth approach to their food, and are not squeamish about it as most modern children are.
    My children were the same. I did not indulge pickiness but encouraged my girls to keep trying things different ways. I made an example by eating things I knew were good for them, even if I didn’t like it.
    Today they have well rounded tastes, and will try anything.

    This recipe looks wonderful!
    I love my lobster with “drawn buttter” (clarified) for dipping.

    This sound right up my alley.

    Thanks for sharing.


  28. caroline k

    i had saved this recipe for years and found it today after a move and made it tonight – it was delicious!!! my first time making lobster at home and it was soooo good!!

  29. serge

    This was great and also very easy to do. Might add some saffron and serve it over pappardelle. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Boris

    Your recipe ideas were really creative and innovative, and they were really useful enough for me. I never found it difficult to follow your procedures, and I would love to share this with my family and friends. Thanks and more power to your website.

  31. Lobster Recipes Lover!

    What wonderful Lobster Recipes. Your beautiful pictures really enhance the cooking experience. The Butter Poached Lobster with Fresh Tomatoes was an easy to prepare and delicious dish. Our family Loves Lobster so your Lobster Recipes will be on our menu often!

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