Butter Poached Lobster

By: beachcritters

May 5, 2013


One of my favorite memories was when we went to New Hampshire on vacation and my dad would take us to Rye Beach.  There was a restaurant that had a tree growing up through the inside of it and my dad would take us over to the big tank filled with lobsters and say “pick out the one you want”.   That began my love affair with lobster.

For awhile he drove trucks and sometimes he would drive up to New England for a delivery.  We always knew when he came home, my grandmother and my aunt would be over for dinner and there would be a cooler full of lobsters.  I could crack the shell and have my lobster sitting in butter before my grandmother had it on her plate.  We never had a lot growing up…..but we ate lobsters from time to time.

I’ve always steamed or boiled my lobster, just like my dad taught me.  I heard about butter poaching but really hadn’t thought about it.  One night, my husband had steak for dinner and I had a couple of small lobster tails so I thought I would give it a try, just to see what all the fuss was about.  Well, I have to say it was everything that everyone had said it would be.  Buttery, sweet, tender and absolutely delicious.  I vowed right there I would never steam lobster again.

This dish does look fancy but don’t be intimidated.  This will elicit a bit “wow!” if you want to impress someone but you don’t need to wait for a special occasion.  You can make it any time you want.

This recipe calls for a lot of butter.  I used a full pound of butter and honestly I probably could have added more…..but I didn’t want to get crazy.  I did a butter emulsion, which means that the butterfat and the milk solids are bound together and don’t separate as long as you keep the temperature under 190 degrees F.  I used a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature but you don’t have to go to this level if you don’t want to.  You could probably poach the meat in plain melted butter and get the same yummy results.


Butter Poached Lobster

  • Prep time:
  • Cook time:
  • Total time:
  • Yield: 2
  • Difficulty: medium


  • 2 Lobsters, between 1.5 and 2 pounds each
  • 1 pound butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallots


  1. You will be okay with this recipe as long as you are aware that you will have to bring the lobsters to an untimely death.  The humane way of doing this is to put them in the refrigerator for about an hour.  It will dull their senses.

  2. IMG_4895

  3. You will need two pots – one to put the lobsters in and one to boil the water in.  Put your lobsters in one and put enough water to fully cover the lobsters in the other.  The pot with the lobsters can go on the countertop near the sink and the one with the water on the stove.  Be sure to roughly measure your water because you will need to add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar for each 8 quarts of water boiled.  I also like to add a little chopped thyme and sliced lemon.

  4. When the water boils, set up an ice bath to immediately cool your lobster after it’s cooked .  You may also need gloves to break down the lobster, but I have never used them.

  5. When the water comes to a rolling boil, pour it quickly over the lobsters.  Set the timer for 3 minutes.  When the time is up, pull the lobsters from the water with tongs.  Grasp the lobster by the head in one hand and the tail in the other and twist firmly to separate the two sections.  Drop the tails in the ice bath.   Twist off the “arms” that contain the claws and the “knuckles”.  Return the claws to the boiling water and steep for another 5 minutes.  Place them back in the ice bath.

  6. Now that the lobster has been par-cooked you will need to remove the lobster from the shells.  You can keep the shells and roast them to use later in a broth if you wish, or just toss them.  You can remove the meat two ways.  You can carefully snip the shell off the meat or crack the shells and use your fingers to push the meat out.  Novices should probably try the first method, although the second method is much quicker if you know what you’re doing.

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  8. In a small saucepan, with a candy thermometer, heat the lemon juice and shallots over medium high heat until boiling.  Whisk in butter, one tablespoon at a time into the juice, creating the sauce as you do.  You will have to whisk continuously during this process, allowing each butter chunk to disappear into the lemon juice before adding the next.  At this point you should have your butter mixture keep a temperature between 160 and 190 degrees.  If if gets any hotter, the butter will break.

  9. Place your lobster in the butter mixture and with the heat maintained poach for 7-8 minutes.

  10. Remove and pour the leftover butter over the lobster or you can put in a small bowl to dip your lobster pieces into.

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  12. I served this over a pasta salad with a citrus mayo and will post that recipe at a later time.

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