How Long To Steam Frozen Lobster?

Steaming is one of the most popular methods for cooking frozen lobster tails. The delicate heat gently cooks the lobster, resulting in tender, juicy meat infused with delicious flavor. However, nailing the steaming time is key to perfectly cooked lobster tails.

Cooking times can vary based on the size and thickness of the tails. Follow these guidelines to learn how long to steam frozen lobster tails.

Factors That Affect Steaming Time

Consider these factors that can impact the overall steaming time for frozen lobster tails:

  • Size of tails – Larger, thicker tails take longer to steam than smaller, thinner ones.
  • Frozen vs. thawed – Frozen tails require a longer steaming time than thawed tails.
  • Method – Steaming on the stovetop takes longer than using a pressure cooker.
  • Quantity – Steaming a large batch of tails increases cooking time slightly.
  • Additions – Herbs, spices or beer added to the steaming liquid can extend cooking time.

Recommended Steaming Times

While steaming times vary based on several factors, here are general guidelines:

  • Small tails (3-5 oz): 5-7 minutes
  • Medium tails (6-8 oz): 7-10 minutes
  • Large tails (8-12 oz): 10-12 minutes
  • Jumbo tails (12 oz+): 12-15 minutes

For frozen tails, add 2-3 minutes to the times above.

Thawed or partially thawed tails will take less time. Visually check for doneness rather than relying solely on times.

Step-By-Step Steaming Instructions

Follow these simple steps for steaming frozen lobster tails:

1. Thaw the Tails

  • For best results, thaw frozen tails in the fridge overnight.
  • Or, place in a plastic bag and thaw in cold water for 30 minutes.

2. Prepare a Steamer Pot

  • Fill a large pot with 1-2 inches of water.
  • Insert a steamer basket and bring water to a boil over high heat.

3. Prep the Tails

  • Rinse tails under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Use kitchen shears to carefully cut through the top shell lengthwise to the base.

4. Season the Tails

  • Spread the shell open slightly and season the meat with salt, pepper and any other desired seasonings.

5. Arrange the Tails

  • Place tails in a single layer in the steamer basket, meat side up.
  • Pour any extra seasoning over tails.

6. Steam the Tails

  • Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam according to recommended times.
  • Do not open the pot during steaming.

7. Check for Doneness

  • Use tongs to remove one tail and check the flesh. It should be opaque and firm.
  • Cook longer if needed.

8. Serve and Enjoy

  • Serve warm with melted butter, lemon wedges and fresh herbs.

Steaming Lobster Tails in an Instant Pot

An Instant Pot makes steaming lobster tails fast and easy. Here are simple steps:

  • Add 1 cup water to Instant Pot and insert steamer rack.
  • Arrange tails on rack, meat side up. Season as desired.
  • Seal lid, select Steam function and cook for 2 minutes (frozen).
  • Use quick release, then check doneness before serving.

Doneness Cues

Rely on these visual cues to test doneness:

  • Shells turn bright red
  • Flesh is opaque and firm
  • No translucence in thickest part of meat
  • Internal temperature reaches 140°F
  • Meat separates easily from shell

Troubleshooting Tips

Having issues getting perfect results? Try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Undercooked: Steam longer in 1-2 minute increments until opaque and firm.
  • Overcooked and rubbery: Avoid over-steaming. Remove immediately once done.
  • Sticking to shell: Do not pry meat from shell after cooking. Use shears to cut shell instead.
  • Not enough steam: Ensure pot has tight-fitting lid and enough water.
  • Bland flavor: Season meat before steaming and pour extra over tails.

Serving Suggestions

Serve your steamed lobster tails with:

  • Melted butter – This classic pairing allows the sweet lobster flavor to shine.
  • Lemon wedges – A bright, fresh way to accent the rich lobster.
  • Cocktail sauce – The tangy tomato base complements the sweetness.
  • Drawn butter – Butter whisked into the steaming liquid, then drizzled over.
  • Garlic butter – Compound butter with garlic, parsley and lemon.
  • Dipping sauces – Think aiolis, mustards, chimichurri, remoulades.
  • Fresh herbs – Chives, dill, cilantro, parsley add freshness.

Steaming vs. Boiling Lobster Tails

While steaming is traditional, boiling is another option. Here’s how they compare:


  • Delicate heat retains moisture
  • Preserves texture and flavor
  • Healthier cooking method
  • Can add aromatics to pot
  • Requires special equipment


  • Faster cooking times
  • Easy to monitor pot on stove
  • Can enhance flavor with additions
  • No special tools needed
  • Can dilute subtle flavors

Freezing and Storing Cooked Lobster

To freeze leftover steamed lobster tails:

  • Allow to cool fully before freezing to prevent ice crystals.
  • Remove meat from shells and place in freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Pour a bit of lemon juice or vodka over meat to prevent freezing solid.
  • Cooked lobster keeps 2-3 months in the freezer.
  • Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Get Creative with Leftovers

Put extra lobster meat to use in these tasty recipes:

  • Lobster rolls – Stuff meat into toasted, buttered buns with a drizzle of mayo or melted butter.
  • Lobster bisque – Puree shells into a creamy, decadent soup base with tomatoes and cream.
  • Lobster mac and cheese – Combine tender lobster with cheesy pasta for ultimate comfort food.
  • Lobster pizza – Top pizza dough with lobster chunks, tomatoes, garlic and cheese.
  • Lobster omelet – Saute lobster meat and add to a fluffy omelet for a luxury breakfast.
  • Lobster salad – Toss lobster meat with greens, avocado and a tangy citrus dressing.

With proper thawing, cooking times and visual checks for doneness, you can master steaming frozen lobster tails. Adjust times based on size of tails and your texture preferences. Soon you’ll be enjoying sweet, succulent lobster with ease.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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