How to De-shell a Lobster

Lobster parties are enjoyable, but the preparation can be stressful if you don’t know how to de-shell a lobster efficiently.

How to de-shell a lobster

This step-by-step guide is especially suitable for beginners and will show you how. Prepare yourself and get a large cutting board, a chef’s knife, sturdy scissors and a kitchen towel ready.


The first time might be a little messy because the cooked lobster will release some of its cooking juices. As always, practice makes perfect! 

Related: Best way to poaching lobsters

Step by step guide

  • Twist gently and pull the head from the tail. Keep the head aside.
  • Use scissors to cut the soft, pliable shell on both sides of the belly over the length of the tail.
  • Peel away the soft belly shell and carefully extract the lobster tail meat. 
  • Use your scissors again to cut the thin legs from the head.
  • Twist the large pincers gently and pull them away.
  • Break the pincers at the joints. 
  • Use your scissors to cut the softer part of the leg and extract the meat easily.
  • For the big claw, wiggle the smallest part of the pincer and pull carefully. The shell should come and extract the feather-like internal bone at the same time.
  • Use a rolling pin, a meat pounder or the back of a chef’s knife to crack the main claw shell on both sides, but don’t crush it. 
  • Remove small bits of shell, if any, and gently pull the whole claw meat from the shell. 
  • Use the rolling pin to squeeze the meat from the thin legs. 

Parts to remove

  • Each lobster has an intestinal tract which is similar to shrimp. Make a shallow cut along the back to remove it or cut the tail in the middle to remove it easily.
  • There is the grit or stomach behind the eyes and mouth which needs to be removed.

Parts to keep

  • The lobster meat!
  • The shells from the body, the claws and legs can be used to make stock or bisque. Use it directly or freeze for later use.
  • Roe or coral is not found in every lobster, but if this deep red delicacy is there, use it to colour and flavour a sauce or you can pan fry it and serve with the lobster meat. It can be eaten cold but it usually doesn’t look very nice.
  • The liver is the greenish part of a cooked lobster. It is also seen as a delicacy and can be scooped out, but personally we are not fans.

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