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large lobsters vs. small lobsters

I know it varies per lb based on hard shell or soft shell, but does anyone know in general if there is more edible meat in:
one six lb lobster,
two three lb lobsters,
three two lb lobsters or
six one lb lobsters?

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  1. Lobsters in general are known to have an approx. 20% meat yield. This is for north Atlantic lobsters from New England and Canada, so I don't think you will find more edible meat in larger lobsters.

    1. I'm not sure it matters.

      FWIW, I work with a guy from Cape Breton (NS) and he refuses to eat any lobster over 1 1/4lbs. He says the meat becomes much tougher after that. So "Edible" becomes a relative word.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Davwud

        We have had different luck. I will admit it is very easy to overcook bigger lobster but remember this rule of thumb double the size does not equal double the time. When we do 5lb lobsters we steam it for 30-35 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it steam for another 5 or so minutes. Then stop the cooking by dunking them in a bath of ice water and the meat is as good as a 1-1/4. My biggest problem is finding a pot big enough for the Beast, our 16 quart Tamale pots are just big enough for 1 5lb-er

        You can check out the post when we made lobster rolls here:


        Take Care

        - P.

        1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

          I agree that it is very easy to overcook a large lobster, and if you do overcook a large lobster the results are tougher meat.
          I steamed a 4lb. lobster this past weekend and got enought meat for two lobster rolls, and lobster eggs Benedict for the morning.

      2. Bigger lobsters have a higher volume to surface ratio, yeilding a little more meat per pound. Not a big difference. A bigger difference is hard vs. soft shell, with hard shells yeilding more meat per pound and soft shells generally a sweeter meat.

        More stuff -- lobsters kept in tanks live off their own selves, so the fresher the lobster the more meat. (One place in Cape Cod puts dead fish in their tanks for the lobsters to eat, so that's not an issue!) Female lobsters have a slightly wider tail section -- the one next to the body -- so they also have slightly more meat. They also have the roe - yum! How to tell gender? The swimeretts are those little wavy thingies under ther tail, and of the pair closest to the body the female's are soft and feather, and on the males are hard.

        On a very practical level, though: on bigger lobsters the smaller chunks -- legs, swimmeretts, body, "shoulders" (where the legs join the body) are much, much easier to get at, yeilding a fair amount of meat. The legs, especially have a higher volume to surface ratio, and the shoulders' meat is *much* easier to get at.

        One cooking tip: Whenever you boil or steam lobsters, crab, or shrimp strain, reduce, and save the cooking water, freeze and use the next time. (If you've used lemon, etc. in the water use less -- or none -- the next time.) Not only will the shellfish be better tasting, at some point the stock will be dense enough for a great bisque!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Richard 16

          Great tip on freezing the cooking liquid! Thanks for that.

        2. It seems to me that it is a surface to volume issue (squared vs cubed) so that there is proportionally more meat (volume) as the size increases. This used to have an impact on pricing with larger lobsters selling for several $/pound more than the smaller ones due to the higher yield of meat. Now, larger lobsters are quite scarce relative to the one pounders and are priced accordingly. Incidently, I would dispute the notion that larger lobsters are less succulent than smaller specimens. Its how you cook them and how long that matters most.

          1. I have had lobsters as big as 6, 8 and 10 pounds. No difference in quality. Just don't overcook. They seem to have more meat per pound than smaller ones.

            1. There is certainly more meat per pound in larger lobsters. And if cooked correctly, there is no difference in taste or texture. I always get the biggest lobsters I can find, the most recent (last New Year) weighing in at over 8 lbs. It was wonderful, even if DH needed a heavy mallet to crack the claws.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheryl_h

                I guess then the belief is that unlike other food animals, lobster flesh remains the same as the creature ages. The larger the lobster, the older the lobster.

                I believe the flesh of younger animals is always preferable.

              2. An added bonus of the large lobsters is that you can extract little cylinders of meat from the legs, and wafers from the tail fins. It's hardly worth the effort with little ones.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Veggo

                  Another plus for large lobsters is they are usually cheaper per lb. if your buying a 6+ lbs. at $6.99 per lb. where the 1 pounders are $7.99 and 1 1/2 to 5 pounders are $8.99 per lb. This is in New Hampshire.
                  Steaming clams were on sale today for $3.49 lb. i'm so glad I stopped by today.

                2. A two and a half to three-pound lobster, in my opinion, is a great all-purpose size for serving a healthy eater as a main course. The key to lobster tenderness, as others have pointed out, is proper cooking: a larger lobster is not tough. Most people boil their lobster way too long.
                  My favorite way to cook lobster is to parboil it, then finish it on the grill

                  1. A few years ago I cooked a 12 pound lobster, mostly to see what it was like. We had to remove the claws with a mighty hammer and chistle, and the tail meat was chewy and great in flavor, much like a good steak. All of us thought this was the best meal to be had. Then I learned that this particular beast lived for over a hundred years to feed my friends, and I said, never again.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pitterpatter

                      "the way to tell a lobster's age is to count six or seven years per pound. Another rule of thumb commonly used to determine lobster age is to multiply its weight by four and then add three. " both the visitmaine.com and mvgazette.com (martha's vineyard) websites cite this math as a way to approximate a lobster's age.

                      it takes 4-7 years for a lobster to get to just 1-pound, which is legal harvest size.

                    2. I just had a 12 pound lobster. that's not a typo... TWELVE.

                      actually i had BJ's steam it, since I couldn't have done so myself anyhow. It was just as sweet and tender as any other size... I think it was great that even the "little" legs that i usually write off had plenty of meat worth digging for. the tail was pork-loin-sized, and each claw meat was about the size of a regular lobster's tail (the claws themselves were definitely as big as a regular 1.5 pound lobster!).

                      there was probably some shrinkage, but there was plenty of food.

                      a lobster that size is probably 20-30, I think. Not a hundred.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nchoe123

                        As another note, there is another reason I beleive larger lobsters have more meat than smaller ones.

                        Compare the size of the claws on a 1 1/4 lb lobster to the rest of its body, then do the same with a 6+ pounder....

                        On the small lobster, the claws represent maybe 20-25% of the body length, and probably less in terms of weight.

                        On a large lobster, the claws can be nearly the size of the main body section, or even bigger, and proportionally, a greater portion of the total weight. 50% wouldn't surprise me.

                        On very large lobsters15-20 lbs and up (in fact, when European settlers first arrived, lobsters were reputed to grow as large as 5-6 FEET, and all were considered trash, and used as fertilizer) , the kind you rarely see at retail, but sometimes see as old, mounted specimens, the claw length is nearly the size of the entire body, main carapace and tail combined.

                        And for my money, the claw meat is the sweetest, tenderest meat, much more so than the tail.

                        Go for the biggies.