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.Renee Schettler Rossi

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

Steamed Lobster with Drawn Butter

4.75 / 4 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories458 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 lemons, plus more for serving
  • Four (2-pound) live lobsters
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil leaves


  • 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.

Adapted From

MasterChef Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 458 kcalCarbohydrates: 6 gProtein: 8 gFat: 46 gSaturated Fat: 29 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 2 gCholesterol: 175 mgSodium: 186 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 JoAnn Cianciulli. Photos © 2010 Vanessa Stump. All rights reserved.

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.

Select a Tester

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.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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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.