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Maine Lobster or Spiny Lobster?

I would like to serve lobster for a special dinner for my parents. However, which is better tasting? Maine Lobsters or Spiny Lobsters?

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  1. I cannot say which taste better...but I can comment a bit on how you want to prepare and serve them. During the season we love the Spiny lobsters, really just big tails, which we have split and then grill and baste with garlic/butter..and serve in the classic Baja way with beans, rice, tortillas, salsas, salads, etc. How do you plan to prepare whatever you buy, and what do you want to serve with them? This will help you decide perhaps.

    1. Good point. I didn't even think about that. I was going to do the classic, boiled lobster w/ melted butter. I'm a 28 year-old bachelor, just now learning how to actually cook and trying to show my parents I've grown up a bit. :)

      I might get ambitous and try doing the splitting, grilling, garlic/butter thing. Sounds great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: HotChoc

        You don't say where you live, but you can buy fresh Spiny lobsters and ask they be cleaned and split. Some places in San Diego sell them already cooked, which means they simply have to be finished on the grill...I prefer to get raw, cleaned, split and then steam for a few minutes and finsh on the grill. The rice/beans/salsas can easily be purchased at a great Mexican deli or take out and salsas bought other places as well, as well as some fabulous tortillas from, say, Trader Joe's. This is not an elegant meal, but yummy!

      2. I goota take a side here! Maine lobster! Maine Lobster!
        Maine Lobster! Boiling is extremely easy and all you need
        is some drawn butter and maybe a baked potato! Steaming may be a little more involved but I would recommend it!
        I've had great success with these guys.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hue

          YEH!!! Maine lobster!! I have to admit,I haven't had a lobster in awhile,but if I was going to have one,It would be a Maine one.Only because of the claw meat,spinies dont have claws,and your missing out if you dont try them.Tails are okay,but I dont like the green stuff,Yuk!!! Claw meat is the best!!!!!!!

        2. Maine lobster--my experience you get more meat with the Maine--I like it broiled with drawn butter and lemon on the side-enjoy

          1. If you serve Maine lobster (boiled or steamed) with drawn butter -- are you and your folks comfortable with disassembling them? Do you have nutcrackers or something to get into them? Again, where you buy them can help you out.

            (I'm just speaking from the experience of being a daughter of New England married into a NJ family -- we spent a week last summer with them at the Jersey shore, and for our last night together, MIL went out and bought Maine lobsters -- ordered them from the fish market and said they'd steam them for us (she knew we had no lobster pots at the house). I asked about nutcrackers, picks, etc., and she hadn't thought of that -- they'd only eaten them in restaurants that split the claws and tails for you. Turned out this market did that for us, too, but I ended up disassembling most of them.)

            1. From my experience "which tastes better" will depend on who you ask. New Englanders/North Easternerss will pretty much ALWAYS say Maine lobster.

              Maine Lobster is supposed to be a little sweeter than spiny/rock lobster. I was unable to really notice that much of a difference when tasting them side by side. But I have also been told that method of preparation (steaming vs. boiling) tends to make a huge difference. Steaming is supposed to bring out the natural flavor more than boiling.

              I would focus more on the presentation aspect. Maine lobster looks far more impressive if you are looking to present them in shell (and as marlie202 says, there is more meat). If you are going to do just tails, or serve completely disassembled, get whichever is available and fits in your budget.

              1. Maine lobster. Hands down. Steamed with drawn butter. I've eaten many spinys in my day and I don't think they compare in either flavor or texture. But that's the way I feel about Maryland blues vs. Dungeness crabs too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ellen

                  I agree with you on both and I'm from land-locked Toronto.

                2. No brainer... MAINE Lobster. One of life's great pleasures.

                  1. No question. Maine lobster. No comparison.

                    You're a good kid, by the way.

                    1. Here in Southern California it is local spiny lobster season. I have had one or more a week in the last month and I have to go with snapping fresh local versus shipped in Maine. I find the meat more firm, but these puppies are fat and loaded with meat. The brawny kid behind the counter can barely maneuver them into the steaming bag cuz they are so active. However, you know your parents, and their preferences so I would go with your instinct. Good luck. (PS: a nice tartly dressed salad and great fresh bread would be a great simple but classic meal)Please report back- amybe under the Home Cooking thread

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: torty

                        Yay! Finally someone from the West Coast chimed in. I prefer spiny lobster as well, but agree that that's probably because I live in California.

                        1. re: Pei

                          I agree the spiny lobster taste way better than the rubber Maine lobster. I am from the US Virgin Islands there is a different in the texture of those two lobster. I my husband from America but after tasting the Caribbean ocean spiny lobster with less polluted in the waters he will not eat the Maine lobster.

                          1. re: Virginiay2

                            If you had a rubbery Maine lobster it was way overcooked. The lobsters from the Gulf of Maine are living in exceptionally clean water.

                            1. re: Virginiay2

                              No way!! I suggest you go to the Maine coast. Find a lobster pound and have a fresh, out of the chilly water, steamed 1 1/2 pound lobster "in the rough." You will never think of them as "rubber" again.

                          2. re: torty

                            I always try to go with local. I am recent to SoCal (Orange County) and I have not been able to find local lobster in the markets. Can anyone be so kind as to point out a few good places to buy now that they are in season?


                            1. re: stuffed

                              Sorry it took years to respond, but the best place to buy spiny lobsters is Berth 55 Fish Market in Long Beach. Santa Monica Seafood in Costa Mesa sometimes has them too, but Berth 55 is worth the drive.
                              The best lobster is fresh lobster, so spiny usually tastes better on the West Coast. People think lobster is fresh because it is in a tank, but once they start to deteriorate once they are out of the ocean. John McPhee wrote a great article on this:
                              We experienced this vividly one afternoon at The Cask in Phoenix (serving Nova Scotia lobster mentioned in the article), when our lobster was not good at all, and the waitress said "the truck just pulled up with fresh ones--let us redo your orders." The difference was amazing.

                          3. Go with whatever is local and in season.

                            BTW, can you even get spiny lobster anywhere but SoCal? I haven't seen it in stores here in the Bay Area.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sharuf

                              You can get spiny lobster (in season, please) all over Florida...

                              and my Florida roots shout SPINY! when asked which one I prefer.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I'm a Floridian too and spiny's are what I eat most often. Both are good and I'd love to see the two types compared in a blind taste test. The most important factors are freshness and method of prep

                            2. I think the local thing is the best bet. Personally I prefer Maine lobsters and get the spiny in the Carib even though the Maine ones are available. Again, following the local theme. Still, all things being equal I prefer the Maine ones since I feel the tails on the spiny lobsters are a bit more tough, although that can vary with preparation method and experience of the cook. Also with the Maine ones, you get all the other acoutrements, such as the claws and legs, which in my opinion are much better than the tale.

                              I notice you mention boiling the lobsters. I would highly recommend never boiling them. After all that's how you make soup and a good bit of the flavour goes out of the lobster into the water. Steam them and don't let anyone tell you special lobster pots are needed. Alton Brown the multitasker would flip over that one. Just get a big pot, crumble up some aluminum foil in the bottom, put in enough water to keep the steam going for 20 mins or so. Once the water is boiling, pop in the lobsters, cover, wait 15 - 20 mins and pull them out. As Jamey Oliver would say, "Easy peasy, Bob's your uncle" you've got great tasting seafood.

                              Good Luck

                              1. The only spiny lobsters I have eaten were in Belize, and I suspect they were pre-frozen tails, so maybe my experience is not optimum. I found them very disappointing, tougher that Maines, with a thick skin aroudn the flesh, and not as sweet. Maine all the way for me.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: prunefeet

                                  The most memorable spiny lobster I ever ate was in a Mexican fishing village. They caught some, then cooked them for us, then cooled then and served them with mayo. I dined under a thatched roof pavilion right at the beach, with sound effects from the surf and the palm trees.

                                  I've never had a fresh-from-the-ocean Atlantic lobster, but I imagine it might be as good.

                                2. One of the joys of the Maine (North Atlantic/Homard) is the meat in the claws and joints. I know that many folks think of the tail as the primary meat from a lobster, but the claws and joints are tastier, the tail is bland by comparison.

                                  Having said that, local and fresh is undoubtedly the best for any shellfish. The best of each is always where it's indigeneous - best stone crab claws are in Florida, dungeness in San Francisco, blue-points in Maryland - closest to fresh king I had was in Tacoma, WA. Best crab and lobster (spiny, I'm sure) sashimi was in a small place near Yokosuka.

                                  You can get around the need for special utensils if you let the lobster cool, and take them apart on the cutting board before you serve them. Take your cleaver or nice heavy chefs knife and split the claws and knuckles, snap off the whole tail, further snap the tail end and push the meat through, or take your knife and split the tail. I throw the head on the plate in tact so people can rip it open and go for the tomalley. Real lobster folks will break off the smaller legs and use their teeth to suck the meat out... (Distribute bibs - This is the reason why Maine lobsters are not white-linen tablecoth restaurant fodder.)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: applehome

                                    I love the whole messy process. Don't forget the meat in the body, there is plenty there. And yes, suck those little legs!! I had a boyfriend who could get meat out of the antennae, I swear!! I'm not lying. He was a talented boy.

                                  2. Maine, imo, absolutely taste much better and no matter where you are, if you go to a good fishmonger, they should be flying them in daily or very frequently and as they must be kept alive, they will be fresh. I'm from the Northeast (NY) and only ate Maine lobster then lived in Florida and had local spiny and there was no comparison. Even when in Florida, the local spiny lobster in Miami didn't compare to the Maine lobster that was flown in. Maine: sweeter and the other posters are right - some of the best meat is in the claws, knuckles and even the small legs. Worth the work and mess.

                                    1. Local and fresh is definitely the way to go, but there are differences between Maine and spiny, too. The Maine lobster's claws seem like the sweetest lobster meat of all to me. But the spiny lobster has a meatier and better-tasting tail. I'll take the spiny any day.

                                      1. Maine Lobster makes a more impressive presentation and tends to have more meat. The meat is also a bit sweeter, but that is up for debate. I personally am a fan of boiling because while it can extract some flavor into the water, it actually allows you to *impart* flavor to the lobster meat. Place a cheese cloth filled with the following seasoning into the water and simmer with a good bit of salt for a half hour before adding the lobster. (6 Black Peppercorns, 8 Cloves, 8 Allspice, 1 tsp dried Thyme, 1 tsp dry Mustard, 1 tsp Celery Seed, 1 Tbsp Cayenne.

                                        If you can get them, steamers make an excellent first course w/ lobster. Steam them with a bottle of beer (cheaper the better), onion slices, and some smashed garlic cloves. Serve with drawn butter and a cup of the "broth" to wash the sand off the steamers before eating. If these are too expensive, steam some mussles in the same way but substitute white wine & a little lemon juice for the beer....YUM!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                                          This is one of those ultimate meals, fresh fresh seafood unadorned by too many extraneous flavors. I LOVE steamers and I LOVE maine lobster.

                                          1. re: prunefeet

                                            A bucket of steamers, a big lobster, a mug of beer, maybe an ear of sweet corn...that's living!

                                        2. I grew up in Connecticut with family vacations up and down the coast. Maine lobsters are the best, whole, steamed or boiled, with a nutcracker and lobster pick as accessories -- if your parents up are for that. Most people dip pieces into drawn sweet butter, but I don't like anything that competes with the lobster meat.

                                          1. Comparing Maine lobster to spiny lobster is like comparing the sun to a flourescent light bulb. No contest, Maine lobster is all taste.
                                            Boiled lobster!!! Never!!! You put 1/2 inch of water in a large pot and steam a lobster. You don't want to boil away all of the flavor.
                                            If you want to split after you steam and grill (stuffed or unstuffed) on the grill that's great but never, ever, boil!!

                                            1. I like both. Given a choice, all else being equal, I choose spiny.

                                              On the Maine lobster side, I'm not satisfied (longing for more) with anything less than a two-pounder. Yum!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: DPGood

                                                I find the smaller Maine lobsters to be tastier. Two or three 1 1/4 pounders is a heavenly treat. Sometimes I'll buy "culls" (one claw missing) if the price is right.
                                                I can't imagine a spiny lobster being tastier on any level. I.M.H.O. of course, maybe not so humble on this topic.

                                                1. re: Motosport

                                                  I don't disagree. To me they're all good. I'm off now to the store. Gonna have lobster tonight for dinner.

                                              2. I'm hypothesizing on this one, but I'm guessing that those of you who vehemently vote Maine have had the pleasure of eating *fresh* Maine lobster...and probably not the chance to have *fresh* spiny lobster.

                                                Makes a big difference -- I love spiny no matter what, but they're definitely not as good if they've been frozen.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Had fresh spineys in the Carribean fresh from the tank. No contest, Maine is much tastier.

                                                  1. re: Motosport

                                                    To you. I'll take that spiny you don't want, thanks.

                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                    Question for you spiny fans - do you ever eat anything but the tail? The tail on an Homard is actually the blandest part. It's the claw, the joints, and then the really good stuff - the innards - the brains and the tomalley. I don't recall people eating all that in a spiny - is it done? When I had it in season in Florida, all I remember was the tail and I wasn't all that impressed with that. It tasted OK, not great, but as an eating experience? Blah.

                                                    The spiny is like eating hamburger to the Homard's rib eye steak. Cracking the claws and the joints, sucking the legs, pulling off the body shell and spooning the tomalley, using the little spear implement to scrape off the meat. Maybe Floridians just like their food simple. Like crab claws served pre-cracked so all you have to do is dip them in a SAUCE! What would they do with a whole crab and brown paper on a table and a hammer? Lobster with tools... oh my! ;-)

                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                      We eat the meat found in the legs and the base of the antennae. Yes, it's sweeter than the tail meat, IME.

                                                      I don't eat tomalley in either species, but I've seen people who do. I don't put anything on Florida lobster except a little butter and some lime juice (emphasis on little...sometimes I eat it without anything at all).

                                                      (you say maybe we just like our food simple as if it's a bad thing....)

                                                      And there are plenty of places to eat blue crabs off of newspaper spread across a picnic table, but thanks for the sneer on the way past.

                                                      ...I KNOW you weren't really disparaging stone crab claws -- because most of us would take fresh stoney claws long before we took *any* kind of lobster. With nothin' on em. (have you ever actually seen a stone crab claw? They're approximately the consistency of brick, and if the restaurant doesn't crack them for you, you're going to be *very* hungry and *very* frustrated)

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!! Blue claw crabs steamed with Old Bay!!! I'll take them anytime over Maine lobster or spineys.
                                                        Some people whine: "Ohhh, too much work!!" I say, bring em on with a pitcher of cold beer and hush puppies. It's a truly Zen experience for me.
                                                        My favorite place in Florida is Ozzies Crab Shack just South of Cape Canaveral.

                                                        1. re: Motosport

                                                          heh. I was taught to pick crabs by the ladies at the seafood market at the harbor in Annapolis, MD. I'm not as fast at it as I used to be, but I'm still faster (and more efficient) than anybody else at the table!

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            I was in St Michael's a few years ago and walked by the local church which was having a crab festival later in the day. I saw about 40 church ladies diligently picking crab at some long tables. I watched in amazement at how quickly they did their work while chatting about everything under the sun. WOW!!

                                                          2. re: Motosport

                                                            Locals don't let friends eat at Ozzies. We get fresh ones from the market and eat at home.

                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                              I'll give you a shout when I am in town.
                                                              Unfortunately, when I visit family down that way we are forced to eat at home. They never go out and never would steam crabs. Go figure?
                                                              We have to lie about visiting "friends" and sneak out to Ozzies. Feel guilty? NOT!

                                                    2. Forget Maine lobster and for sure forget spiny lobster. Nova Scotia lobsters are the best in the world. Colder water = better lobster.

                                                      1. I'm in Arizona, and I will say with no shame that I'd welcome either one with open arms, but if somebody asked, I'd say Maine lobster, assuming it was large enough.

                                                        1. I've lived in California, I've lived in Maine, and I've had local lobsters in both places. Spiny lobster tail meat tastes better and has a better texture, in my opinion, and it's not really a close call. If you like very sweet lobster meat, however, the claw meat from the Maine lobster will probably be the best choice.

                                                          1. To split hairs, spiny lobsters are of the the genus paniarius (sp?) and Maine and north Atlantic lobsters homerus. I query if the spiny lobster is truly a lobster. So goes Maine so goes the nation!

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                              Not in the Conch Republic. Granted that the claw meat on homerus is tastier and easier to shell than from panulirus. But up to a third of the meat is in the head and thorax for our crawfish, while your homerus are stuffed with dead mans' fingers and shell.

                                                              I love helping Northeners clean their catch at the dock. Some even tip me for leaving with the trashy heads!

                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                and the legs...I have a real fondness for that sweet little thread of meat from the legs (and the antennae)

                                                            2. I prefer spiny lobster. The way you can really tell is to eat both lobsters raw - lobster sashimi. You will instantly notice that spiny lobster has less chewy connective/mesenteric tissue. Taken to a perfectly cooked example of each, I find the same. Sweetness and texture go to spinies. Now if you love the claws you onky have one choice. And claw meat is excellent.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: wickedsluggy

                                                                I'm with you sluggy -- there aren't many of us who prefer spinies to Maine.

                                                                And I'll fight you for the legs :)