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Steamed Lobster with Drawn Butter

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

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
4 servings


  • 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.