How to Clean a Lobster: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Clean a Lobster: 15 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Clean a Lobster: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

The lobster's exoskeleton makes it difficult to remove the meat for preparation or consumption. While a lobster fork and pliers - or even a simple nutcracker - make it easy to get to the meat stuck in the recesses of the shell, you can also use regular cutlery. The tail and claws are considered the most succulent parts of the animal, but those with an adventurous spirit can find other delicacies in the lobster's body.


Part 1 of 2: Unraveling the Claws and the Tail

Clean a Lobster Step 1

Step 1. Cook or kill the lobster

Most people cook lobster alive or immediately after slaughter without any preparation. Soak it on ice right after you've finished cooking and you can shred it.

  • If you're going to make a recipe that calls for lobster meat, butcher it humanely: place it face down on the workbench and insert a small, sharp knife into the junction of head and body. Clean the lobster as described below, but do it in a bowl to retain the meat juices and rinse the meat before cooking it.
  • Follow these instructions to prepare frozen lobster.

Step 2. Pull out the claws

To do this, twist or bend them backwards until they break. If it is a hard-shelled specimen, break the ends of the tweezers with a nutcracker, scissors, or the handle of a large knife. Push the meat through the hole you created in the lobster's "pulse", which can be done with your finger if the lobster has a soft shell.

Step 3. Break the carpus

The carpi - joints between the body and the claws - may look small, but the meat they hold is valuable. Separate them from the tongs and open them with a nutcracker.

Step 4. Remove the tail

Unroll and stretch the tail, which can be removed by twisting the tail and body in opposite directions or pulling the tip of the tail back toward the head until the seam breaks.

Step 5. Pull out the rear fin

That fan-shaped appendage at the end of the crustacean's tail consists of five blades (the telson, in the center, and four uropods around it). Pull them out or cut them with a knife. Each blade has some meat, which can be removed with a lobster fork or by breaking the shell.

Step 6. Remove the meat from the tail

Removal of the fin will leave a narrow hole at the end of the tail. Insert your finger or a lobster fork into it so that the meat comes out the other side, where it used to be the union between the tail and the body.

Or you can rest your tail on the bench with your abdomen facing up. Using scissors, cut the sides of the carapace at the front of the abdomen and remove it. After that, you can remove the meat

Step 7. Take out the intestinal tract

The dark vein that crosses the tail contains the lobster stool. Separate it from the meat and discard it. If it is not visible when the carapace is torn off, it may be hidden under a thin layer of flesh.

Clean a Lobster Step 8

Step 8. Collect the roe

Anyone who has a female lobster in their hands should find the roe inside the caudal carapace, which after being cooked, acquires a pinkish hue, which has given them the popular name "coral".

When raw, the roe is black. Before eating, steam them for a few minutes, until they turn pink

Part 2 of 2: Unraveling the Body and Paws

Step 1. Take the lobster's body

The tail and claws have the juiciest meat, but much of the body can also be used. Open the shell by pulling it with your hand.

Step 2. Twist and tear off all eight legs

If you want to enjoy every last bit of meat, crush each leg with a rolling pin, starting at the end. If the lobster is already cooked, you can bite into the exposed end of the meat and pull the shell down.

Clean a Lobster Step 11

Step 3. Throw away the gills

The gills are the white, feathery components found inside the lobster's body. Be careful not to discard the fillet of meat between them.

Clean a Lobster Step 12

Step 4. Throw away the sandbag

Pull and discard the grainy "sand bag" behind the crustacean's eyes.

Clean a Lobster Step 13

Step 5. Store or dispose of the liver

The green substance in the lobster's cephalothoracic cavity fulfills the function of the liver and pancreas. Not everyone finds it appetizing, but some use it to prepare sauces or spread on bread. However, all the toxins ingested by the lobster accumulate in this organ. To avoid problems, adults should eat no more than one liver a day, and children should be banned from eating.

  • Discard the liver if shellfish cultivation is banned in your area because of the paralyzing toxin (PSP). Although meat from lobsters that have eaten infected shellfish is suitable for consumption, all the toxin will be trapped in that organ.
  • If you're shredding a raw lobster, the liver will be gray and very perishable. It must be immediately stored at glacial temperature and, even in the first hours after slaughter, cooked as an ingredient in a sauce.
Clean a Lobster Step 14

Step 6. Remove the meat from the cephalothoracic cavity

Remove the small pieces of meat you find on the ribs, discarding the thin carapaces between them.

Clean a Lobster Step 15

Step 7. Boil the carapace for no more than 45 minutes to make lobster broth

If you go too far, it will spoil the flavor of the broth. Do not use the sandbag or the gills when preparing the broth.


  • A lot of people put a napkin on their chest when shredding and eating lobsters, as the process can be quite a mess.
  • Traditionally, people dip lobster meat in melted butter before eating it.
  • If the lobster will not be used after preparation, store it in the freezer, in a well-sealed container, right after it is cooked. If it's still in the shell, the meat can be consumed in two or three days; if it has already been removed, the expiry date is between three and five days.
  • Some cookbooks refer to the body (already separated from the tail and claws) as "carcass".
  • It is not known to what extent lobsters are capable of feeling pain or despair. If you're worried about it, cut the lobster's cervical nerve or numb its senses by leaving it on ice before putting it on the fire.


  • Pregnant or lactating women should be aware that the lobster liver has high levels of dioxin, which can be harmful to the baby if ingested by the mother.
  • When you start to open a freshly cooked lobster, aim it away from yourself and those around you. Hot water residue accumulated inside the lobster can splash and cause burns.
  • If the meat doesn't look firm and pink after it's cooked and removed from the shell, it's rotten. Discard it immediately.

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