How to Eat a Lobster

If you're shelling out for the good stuff, you want to be able to extricate every precious morsel.

Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to eat a lobster. Lorri Cousens, a co-owner of the acclaimed Waterman’s Beach Lobster stand, in South Thomaston, Maine, shares her foolproof method for cracking and dismantling lobster, without looking like a klutz. Watch as Real Simple Food Director Sarah Copeland demonstrates.

What You Need

  • Lobster pick (or skewer)
  • Nutcracker
  • Empty bowl for discarded shells
  • Bib (optional)
  • Extra napkins (a must!)



This part of the lobster is the easiest to handle and is usually the meatiest. Grab the body in one hand and the tail in the other, and twist in opposite directions. The tail will break off. Roll the tail onto its side on the table, and push down with both hands until the shell cracks. This will loosen the meat so that it comes out in one neat chunk. Break off the flippers at the end. Then insert your thumb into the flipper end of the tail, pushing the meat out the other end. Peel off the dark vein that runs through the tail and discard it.


Using your hands, twist off one claw at the closest knuckle joint. (Be careful with those serrated edges and spikes.) Next, rip off the “thumb” of the claw (the slimmer half of the pincer), and remove the meat inside it with a pick. Put the rest of the claw into a nutcracker on its flat side, and crack at the widest point. Pull out the meat with your fingers; it should come out in one piece.


These are the sections between the claws and the body. (There are four total.) You can pull off a knuckle with your hands and break it open with the nutcracker. Push the meat out of the shell with a pick.


Yank off all eight legs with your fingers, then suck the meat from each leg, one by one.


This takes the most work and makes the most mess. (If your lobster is smaller than 1 ½ pounds, don’t bother, because you won’t find much meat.) Hold the body steady near the tail end as you pry the shell off the top of the lobster with your other hand, revealing the rib cage. Use the pick to push the meat away from the ribs. For the adventurous: You’ll spot a soft green paste, called tomalley, which is the liver. It’s a salty and creamy delicacy you can eat plain or spread on crostini. Female lobsters contain red or orange eggs that are edible.

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