10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Handling Live Lobsters | Expert Tips

Lobsters are delicious seafood that many people enjoy, but they can also be tricky to handle and store properly. If you want to cook live lobsters at home, you need to avoid some common mistakes that could ruin your meal or harm the lobsters. Here are 10 tips from experts on how to handle live lobsters correctly and safely.

1. Don’t buy dead lobsters

The first and most important rule is to buy live lobsters from a reputable source. Dead lobsters can spoil quickly and cause food poisoning. You can tell if a lobster is alive by checking its movements and reactions. A live lobster will curl its tail, wave its claws, and move its antennae when touched. A dead lobster will have a limp tail, droopy claws, and no response to touch. You should also avoid lobsters that have cracked or damaged shells, as they may be infected or injured.

2. Don’t store lobsters in tap water

Lobsters are saltwater creatures, and fresh water will kill them. Tap water contains chlorine and other chemicals that are harmful to lobsters. If you put lobsters in tap water, they will suffocate and die within minutes. You should also avoid storing lobsters in stagnant water, as it can breed bacteria and contaminate the lobsters.

3. Don’t seal lobsters in an air-tight container

Lobsters need to breathe, and sealing them in an air-tight container will suffocate them. You should store lobsters in a ventilated container, such as a cardboard box or a paper bag. You can also keep them in the shipping container they came in, as long as it has holes for air circulation.

4. Don’t freeze live lobsters

Freezing live lobsters will kill them and affect their quality. Lobsters have a high water content, and freezing them will cause ice crystals to form in their tissues, damaging their cells and texture. Frozen lobsters will also lose their flavor and freshness. You should cook live lobsters as soon as possible, or store them in the refrigerator for up to two days.

5. Don’t let lobsters dry out

Lobsters will die if they dry out, and their meat will become tough and rubbery. You should keep lobsters moist with wet newspaper or seaweed that they were packed in. You can also spray them with salt water occasionally to keep them hydrated.

6. Don’t handle lobsters roughly

Lobsters are sensitive animals, and handling them roughly can stress them out and cause them to release toxins into their flesh. You should handle lobsters gently and carefully, avoiding sudden movements and loud noises. You should also wear gloves or use tongs to protect yourself from their sharp claws and spines.

7. Don’t pick up lobsters by the claws or the tail

The proper way to pick up a lobster is by the body, not by the claws or the tail. Picking up a lobster by the claws can injure them or make them drop their claws as a defense mechanism. Picking up a lobster by the tail can hurt them or make them flip their tail and cut you with their sharp edges.

8. Don’t cook lobsters without killing them first

Cooking live lobsters is considered cruel and unethical by many people, as it causes unnecessary suffering to the animals. Lobsters have a primitive nervous system, but they can still feel pain and stress when boiled alive. You should kill lobsters humanely before cooking them, either by freezing them for 30 minutes or by piercing their brain with a sharp knife.

9. Don’t overcook or undercook lobsters

Overcooking or undercooking lobsters can ruin their taste and texture. Overcooked lobsters will become dry and tough, while undercooked lobsters will be raw and unsafe to eat. You should follow the recommended cooking times for different methods of cooking lobsters, such as boiling, steaming, grilling, or baking.

10. Don’t waste any part of the lobster

Lobster is an expensive and precious food, and you should not waste any part of it. Besides the meat from the claws and the tail, you can also eat the meat from the legs, the knuckles, and the body cavity. You can also use the shells, the head, and the roe (eggs) to make stock, soup, or sauce.


Lobster is a delicacy that requires proper handling and care to enjoy its full flavor and quality. By avoiding these 10 common mistakes