How to Steam Lobster Without a Steamer

Succulent steamed lobster is a delicious indulgence. Many home cooks prefer steaming over boiling, as it results in more tender, juicy meat infused with sweet briny flavor. Traditionally, steaming lobster requires a special pot with a steaming tray insert.

But with a few simple tricks, you can achieve tender, restaurant-quality steamed lobster without owning a dedicated steamer.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover improvised steaming methods, step-by-step instructions, timing guidelines, and serving suggestions. With items you likely already have on hand, you can make steaming lobster a breeze. Say goodbye to tough, rubbery lobster, and hello to tender perfection.

Why Steam Lobster?

Before diving into technique, let’s review why steaming is superior to boiling lobster:

  • Preserves moisture and flavor – The gentle heat of steam cooks the lobster without leaching out juices like boiling does. This leaves the meat succulent, sweet and tender.
  • Avoids overcooking – Boiling can cause proteins to contract and toughen. Steaming cooks more slowly, allowing you to achieve the ideal doneness.
  • Infuses seasoning – Unlike boiling where seasonings dilute, steam carries flavors directly into the meat.
  • Better temperature control – Steaming never exceeds 212°F, eliminating the risk of overcooking that boiling brings.

For the most delectable textures and natural sweet brininess, steaming is clearly the way to go. Now let’s look at techniques.

Steaming Lobster Without a Steamer Pot

With a few simple kitchen items, you can improvise a steamer:

Colander or Metal Strainer

  • Place a colander or metal strainer over a pot filled with 1-2 inches simmering water.
  • Cover pot tightly and steam 10-15 minutes until lobster is opaque.

Wire Rack

  • Place a wire rack inside a large pot with water.
  • Keep water 1-2 inches below rack.
  • Cover and steam 10-15 minutes.

Baking Dish

  • Place lobster in a baking dish with a little water.
  • Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes per pound.

These improvised methods let you mimic a steamer pot for tender lobster sans specialty equipment.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow this straightforward process for foolproof oven-steamed lobster:

Prepare the Lobster

Rinse the lobster under cold water to remove debris. Remove rubber bands from claws. Consider splitting larger lobsters in half.

Fill Pot with 1-2 Inches Water

The shallow water will create steam without boiling the lobster.

Insert Steaming Rack (Optional)

A rack or steaming basket elevates the lobster above the water. If you don’t have one, place the lobster directly in the pot.

Bring Water to a Boil

This creates steam. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a vigorous simmer.

Add Lobster and Cover Pot Tightly

Trapping the steam cooks the lobster evenly.

Steam Based on Size

  • 1 lb. lobster – 7 to 9 minutes
  • 1 1⁄4 lb. lobster – 9 to 11 minutes
  • 1 1⁄2 lb. lobster – 11 to 13 minutes

Check for Doneness

Use tongs to transfer lobster to a plate. The shell should be bright red. The flesh should be opaque and firm.

Serve Immediately

Enjoy your tender, juicy steamed lobster!

Serving Your Steamed Lobster

Once cooked, serve your lobster immediately with:

  • Melted butter – The classic dip for sweet lobster meat. Clarified butter is ideal.
  • Lemon wedges – A bright, fresh accent that cuts through the rich butter.
  • Dill sauce – For a tangy, herbal dip, blend sour cream, dill, and lemon juice.
  • Garlic aioli – Mix garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil for an indulgent dip.
  • Mustard sauce – Whip up a zesty sauce from mustard, mayo, chives, and lemon juice.
  • Steak crackers or lobster picks – Serve cracking tools to help access all the succulent meat.

Get creative with your own signature dipping sauces and crunchy garnishes!

Storing Leftover Lobster

To safely save steamed lobster for another use:

  • Remove all lobster meat from the shells after steaming.
  • Store lobster meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
  • Freeze lobster meat for 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating gently.
  • Avoid keeping lobster in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F for more than 2 hours.

Following proper storage guidelines, you can safely enjoy lobster again later in the week.

Common Steaming Mistakes

If your steamed lobster turns out disappointing, here are some common pitfalls:

Rubbery, Tough Texture

The lobster was likely overcooked. Follow the recommended steaming times and use a thermometer to monitor temperature. Do not exceed 140°F internal temp.

Bland, Lacking Flavor

Too much fresh water was used when steaming. For better flavor, use equal parts water and seafood stock. You can also add seasoning like Old Bay to the steaming liquid.

Undercooked and Translucent

The lobster needs longer steaming time. Refer to size-based guidelines and check for doneness with a thermometer to ensure it reaches food-safe temperatures.

Waterlogged and Soggy

Too high of a water level resulted in boiling versus gently steaming. Use only 1-2 inches of water in the pot bottom and elevate lobsters on a rack when possible.

With a few tweaks and avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be steaming tender, succulent lobster sans steamer basket in no time.


With just a few basic kitchen tools like a pot, colander, or wire rack, you can easily improvise methods for steaming lobster without a dedicated steamer setup. Preparing your lobster correctly and following steaming time guidelines will allow you to achieve tender, restaurant-worthy results at home. Serve your steamed lobster immediately with tangy sauces and enjoy the sweet brininess of perfectly cooked seafood.

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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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