How Much Lobster Per Person?

Cooking uncommon foods like lobsters is complicated, especially when cooking for a crowd. Some people will be confused about how much food to buy, which is why it is good to know how much lobster you should get per person.

Grilled lobster tails served with asparagus and Bearnaise sauce
Grilled lobster tails served with asparagus and Bearnaise sauce

When serving lobster as the main course of a meal, one lobster per person should be served. Lobsters are generally 1 1/4 lbs to 1 1/2 lbs, which can yield anywhere from 4-8 ounces of cooked meat. The two most common ways to cook lobster are by boiling or steaming it.

When serving something fancy like lobster, it is really important to do it right, whether it is in buying the right amount or cooking it correctly.

About Lobsters

Lobsters, as many know, are crustaceans. There are many different species of lobster, only some of which are commonly eaten. (SouceOpens in a new tab.)

The first thing you need to know about lobsters is that they come in a wide variety of sizes. Generally, the ones you find are 1 1/4 lbs to 1 1/2 lbs. However, they can be anywhere from 1 lb to 4 lbs. (SourceOpens in a new tab.) However, lobsters keep growing as they age, so they can get very large, like 20-30 lbs.

Another thing to know is that lobsters can be dangerous, a fact most people can see as soon they look at their large claws. These claws have a lot of power; they can produce around 1,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. (SourceOpens in a new tab.) This is a reason why in stores, lobsters are sold with rubber bands keeping their claws clamped shut. The other reason store owners do this is to keep the lobsters from hurting each other while in the tank.

Serving Size

Now, let’s take a look at serving lobster. The serving size of lobster is one lobster per person. We talked to the Maine Lobster LadyOpens in a new tab. about serving size for lobster, and she said for one person you need a 1 1/4 lbs lobster, which will give you about 4 to 7 ounces of cooked meat.

Other places will vary slightly and say that when you are cooking one serving of lobster, you will want to get a 1 1/2 lb lobster. The meet you will get from this is about 1 1/3 cups, about one dinner portion. This is making the assumption that the person eats only lobster. (SourceOpens in a new tab.) A lobster of that size, 1 1/2 lbs will yield about 6-8 ounces of meat. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Taking into account that a regular lobster is between 1 1/4 lbs and 1 1/2 lbs, One serving size of lobster is one general-sized lobster.

When buying lobster for a crowd, one thing that might affect how much to buy is how you cook the lobster. If you are serving just lobster, then you will want 1 1/2 lbs lobster per person. However, to reduce the amount of lobster you need to get, consider serving a surf and turf, lobster and steak. Or another option is to serve lobster bisque or other lobster-based meals.

Two broiled Lobster tails on a bed of Kale
Two broiled Lobster tails on a bed of Kale

Nutritional Facts

Some people might be really interested in eating lobster because of its health benefits. One of the known health benefits of lobster is that it is low in saturated fats but a good source of protein. It also contains zinc, vitamin B-12, and some omega 3 fatty acids. The fact that it contains omega 3 fatty acids is important because they are not found in many foods. Seafood is one of the best places to get your omega 3s. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

The US Department of AgricultureOpens in a new tab. provides the nutritional facts for one cup of cooked lobster. They say that in one cup of cooked lobster there are 129 calories, 27.6 grams of protein, 1.25 grams of fat. It also contains a lot of other necessary things, like 139 mg of calcium, 334 mg of potassium, 2.07 mg of vitamin B-12, and 0.42 mg of iron.

Soft-Shelled vs. Hard-Shelled

When researching which lobsters to get and how much to get, you will likely come across the terms soft-shelled and hard-shelled. This can be a little confusing, and you might start asking some questions such as what does this mean? What is the difference? Which is better?

It is actually quite simple. Lobsters molt once a year, losing their old shell and eventually growing a new one. The term ‘soft-shelled’ refers to a lobster that has just molted its old shell and has not fully grown a new shell yet. Molting occurs from about June to December. If soft-shelled lobsters are cooked, these new, incomplete shells, because they are so soft, are edible. They can be eaten along with the meat.

Then, what does hard-shelled mean? It is actually very simple. The term ‘hard-shelled’ refers to a lobster that has fully regrown its shell. These shells need to be removed before the lobster’s meat can be eaten. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

It is actually decently easy to tell if a lobster is hard-shelled or soft-shelled. All you have to do is lightly squeeze the main segment of the lobster’s shell. If it is soft and bends, then the lobster is soft-shelled. If it does not flex, then it is a hard-shelled lobster. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Now that you know what these two terms mean, are there any differences between the two? And which is better?

The chef we talked to said that the soft-shelled lobsters, which are found in the summer, are sweeter, but there is not as much meat. On the other hand, some people prefer the taste of hard-shelled lobster. Also, the hard-shelled lobster will have more meat in it. In the end, one type is not fundamentally better than the other. It is fairly objective, and it really depends on what people like.

Dangers of Uncooked or Undercooked Lobster

Eating raw meat is dangerous, including raw or undercooked lobster. Why is this? Seafood like lobster contains the bacteria vibrio. This bacteria lives inside them, and if you eat vibrio or get it in your body, it causes an infection referred to as vibriosis. Vibriosis is a type of food poisoning. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

When a lobster dies, the bacteria rapidly multiply and release toxins in the lobster. This excess bacteria can lead to food poisoning as not all of it may be killed while the lobster cooks. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

If you have ever had food poisoning, you know it is not pleasant. The symptoms of vibriosis are what you’d expect from food poisoning, including diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, vomiting, and nausea. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Just like you would with other raw meat, like chicken, you have to be careful to cook the lobster fully. If you don’t cook the meat all the way through, you might not kill off all the bacteria. Eating this undercooked meat could result in you getting food poisoning.

Lobster boiling in a pot

How to Cook lobster

When you first think about lobster, what do you think of? You probably imagined a bright red crustacean. Though this is accurate, lobsters are not always red. Lobster is interesting because as it cooks, it changes color. Lobsters start out as greenish-brown, but that can vary depending on a few factors. As these crustaceans are cooked, their coloring changes to the iconic fire truck red color we all think of.

Before we talk about how to actually cook these crustaceans, let’s address one question first. Do you cook lobster alive, and if so, why? The answer is yes, you generally cook lobsters alive. Cooking lobsters alive is recommended because it reduces the likelihood of getting food poisoning from them. (SourceOpens in a new tab.) However, you can cook them dead as long as they are still fresh and were stored correctly.

Lobster can be used in a lot of meals, whether as a main course or part of a more complicated dish. The most common way to cook lobster is by steaming or boiling it.

Boiling Lobsters

The first way you can cook a lobster is by boiling it. To do this, you will first need a big pot. An 8-quart pot will be big enough for one lobster, while a 16-quart pot would do for 2 or 3 lobsters. When cooking for a large crowd, you will need to either have a very large pot, plan to cook the lobsters only a few at a time, or cook with multiple pots at once.

Once you have the right pot, fill it 3/4th full of water. Next, you should add salt to the water. Now, bring this to a full boil.

Now it is time to add the lobsters. You will want to add the lobster headfirst, then cover the pot. Once the water comes to a boil again, you will want to cook the lobster for 12-18 minutes. Once the meat is fully cooked and the shell is bright red, remove the lobster from the pot and let it drain. And there you go, your lobster is done! Now it is ready to be eaten whatever way you want. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Steaming Lobsters

The second way to cook a lobster is by steaming it. Steaming a lobster is very similar to boiling it. The difference is that you do not let the lobsters touch the water. This is why you will need to place the lobsters in a steaming basket, making sure it keeps them above the water.

You will want 1-2 inches of boiling water in your pot. At this point, you should cover the pot.

Now set a timer. You should steam them for 15-17 minutes, or until they are fully cooked. Make sure you do not run out of water during the process. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Fully cooked lobster meat will be white. If it is still translucent, you should not eat it. This is because it is not fully cooked. Because it is not cooked all the way through, it can give you food poisoning.

Tips to Make Cooking Lobster Easier

Cooking lobster for the first, or even fourth time can be complicated. Cooking lobster can be a little more complicated than cooking other meats because you are working with something that is alive, and if you do not cook it right, it can get you very sick. So, we decided to compile a list of helpful tricks and tips for cooking lobsters.

  1. Sedate the lobster before trying to cook it.

Our first tip is to sedate the lobster before you try to cook it. Lobsters can be lively, which can make them a bit harder to cook. To sedate them, put the lobsters in the freezer for a few minutes. This will slow them down, making them much easier to maneuver into the pot. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Tied lobster in a large brass bowl

2. Leave the rubber bands on the claws.

When you buy lobsters live at the store, they usually have rubber bands holding their claws shut. These rubber bands are a safety measure, for you and for the other lobsters in the tank.

The fantastic thing about these bands is that you can leave them on while cooking the lobster. (SourceOpens in a new tab.) This will make getting the lobster in the pot easier, and it will make it so you do not have to worry about getting pinched while cooking. Once the lobster is fully cooked and removed from the pot, you can simply cut off the bands. This tip might cause some readers to breathe a sigh of relief because now they can have cooked lobster without ever having to face the snipping claws.

3. Check if the meat is fully cooked.

We emphasized a lot how important it is to cook the lobster meat fully, and readers might be wondering how you can tell if the meat is fully cooked.

One way to tell is by the color. Fully cooked lobster meat should be white, not translucent or grey. Take your lobster from the water and cut it open right where the train and the body touch. If the meat is completely white, then you are good. If not, then you need to cook your lobster longer. (SourceOpens in a new tab.)

Some people also say that a quick indicator is whether the antenna will come off. If you can easily pull off the lobster’s antenna then the meat is cooked. (SourceOpens in a new tab.) If you use this test, we would also suggest checking meat color just to be sure the meat is fully cooked.

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of CookForFolks.com, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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