Sous Vide Lobster

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 2


  • Stiff Wooden or Metal Skewers
  • Large Pot
  • Kitchen Shears or the Spine of a Heavy Knife
  • Sous Vide Immersion Circulator
  • Cooking Container


  • 2 whole live lobsters 1 1/2 lb each
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • lemon wedges for serving
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter for serving


  • Kill each lobster by plunging a knife directly into its head, splitting its carapace in half. Twist off the tail and claws. Discard carapace or save for stock.
  • Lay tails flat against a cutting board and insert two stiff wooden or metal skewers along the length of the tails, keeping as close to the shell as possible.
  • Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of water or a steamer to a rolling boil. Add lobster tails and claws and cook for 1 minute. Remove tails with tongs and transfer to the ice bath. Continue cooking claws for 4 minutes longer, then transfer to the ice bath.
  • Shuck lobster tails by first squeezing sides of the shell inward until they crack. Pull sides of shell outward. The shell should open up easily. Remove tail meat and set aside.
  • To remove claw meat, break off the small pincer, being careful to get the meat out of it. Using kitchen shears or the spine of a heavy knife, crack the bottom of the shell to create an opening large enough to extract the meat. Carefully remove claw meat by shaking shell up and down, or by using the back of a wooden skewer to slide it out.
  • To remove knuckle meat, snip open shells with kitchen shears and use the back of a wooden skewer to remove meat. If knuckles are especially spiky, use a kitchen towel to help grasp them.
  • Using a sous vide precision cooker, preheat a water bath to the desired temperature.
  • Place meat in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag or a vacuum bag. Add 2 tablespoons (30g) butter and tarragon sprigs. Remove all air from the bag using the water displacement method or a vacuum sealer.

  • Add bagged meat to the water bath and cook for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Remove lobster from the bag, discard tarragon, and serve immediately with lemon wedges and hot clarified butter for dipping.


If you can't get live lobsters, frozen lobster tails will work as well. Serve 1 1/2 to 2 lobster tails per person, depending on the size of the tails. Skip step 1 and any directions pertaining to claws or knuckles.
Keyword lobster, sous vide