Steamed Lobster with Drawn Butter

Steamed lobster with drawn butter–with its sweet, succulent tail, slurpy claws, and chunky knuckles–is one of summer’s greatest hits. What sets this recipe apart is the herbaceousness of both the steaming liquid and the butter.

A what plate with steamed lobster with drawn butter--claws, knuckles, and tail meat

Steaming lobster is simple enough. It’s also stunning enough for company when you add herb-infused drawn butter (just a fancy way to say melted butter) imparts a lovely lilt to the lobster. Originally published August 31, 2010.Renee Schettler Rossi

Steamed Lobster with Drawn Butter

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Fill a large steamer or stock pot with about 2 inches of water and toss in the salt, thyme, bay leaves, and the juice of 1 lemon. If a more emphatic lemon flavor is desired, go ahead and toss in the halves of 2 lemons. Bring to a boil.

Place the lobsters in the steamer basket or directly in the pot, cover, and steam until the shells are bright red and the tail is curled, about 15 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the pot and let drain.

Meanwhile, gently warm the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Warm it up gently so the milk solids begin to cook and sink to the bottom of the pot. Keep a close watch because once the milk solids collect and fall, they burn easily. Carefully pour the clear butter into a small dish, leaving the solids behind in the pan. (If necessary, strain the drawn butter to remove any pesky lingering solids.) Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons into the drawn butter and stir in the parsley and basil.

Serve the steamed lobster with the drawn butter and lemon wedges.

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    How to Crack a Steamed Lobster

    • 1. Twist off both of the claws from the body. Separate the claw and knuckle by snapping it like a twig.

    • 2. Pull off the small legs from the body and remove the meat with a lobster fork or, if you prefer, suck out the meat and juice. Turn the body over and scoop out the meat from the pockets. There may be a green substance called tamale, which is actually the liver and is considered a delicacy by some but certainly not all.

    • 3. Use a lobster or nutcracker to crack the large claws just below the tip. Pull off the shell and remove the meat in one piece.

    • 4. Twist the head and tail of the lobster in opposite directions, separating the tail from the body.

    • 5.Break off the tail fins. Stick a fork inside the tail to pull out the meat in one piece, taking care not to tear any of the flesh.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    We prepare steamed lobster quite often, especially during the summer months when lobsters are frequently on sale. We use a very similar methodology but some of the "extra" techniques in this recipe didn't seem to add much value. For example, we usually use plain water for steaming and the result was about the same. I even added an extra lemon to the water and could not discern even a hint of lemon in the lobster meat. The instructions for cracking the lobster worked well and are pretty much the standard way to handle a steamed lobster. Very useful to include this for people who may never have previously handled a lobster.

    Steamed lobster and drawn butter is always a winner to someone who likes shellfish. I love lobster and was looking forward to treating myself to one of my favorite meals. Since I was treating myself to a spectacular specimen of shellfish I only cooked one but I left the ingredients at the same amount.

    What I really liked was the drawn butter with the juice of 2 lemons and fresh parsley and basil. It had a wonderfully light and bright fresh taste. I thought the lobster itself was a bit flat. It was okay, it didn't send me off to the shores of Maine without the butter.


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    1. Could ghee work? After all, it is a very convenient clarified butter that someone else did all the labor.

    2. Perhaps a silly question, but if I’m cooking 3 lobsters do I put them all in head first (so they would seem to be standing on their heads side by side) or once in are they sitting one on top of the other?

      1. Hi Deb451, not a silly question. I’d be inclined to put them all in head first side by side. If your pot is large and they tend to fall over during steaming, that’s fine.

    3. This looks very good and unique, as Lisa said. I don’t like fancy lobster and this is simple but with an unobtrusive twist.

      Gary, from MA, living in CA

    4. I LOVE lobster! I’m from Maine, and to me, lobster is comfort food. I do like it plain and simple but I’ll try to be open to new things. The instructions are really a great idea, nice post!….Lisa (lobster-lover!)

    5. Wow, that looks awesome. I have always been a little shy of cooking lobster. I think this might be the handholding I need to make it. Thanks.

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