How To

Kitchen tips: How to open lobster and crab

Lobster and crab are like the canned foods of the seafood world – they're only edible if you can figure out how to get them open! We've rounded up some expert advice so you'll be cracking open those shells like a pro in no time.

How to open lobster

  • Place the cooked whole lobster upside down on a chopping board; hold the tail where it joins the body to flatten it out.

  • Carefully plunge a large, heavy and very sharp knife through the lobster to the chopping board then cut in half lengthways through the centre of the body and tail.

  • Turn the lobster around and cut in half down through the centre of the head.

  • Chop the claws and legs off the body; crack the claws with the back of the knife and extract the meat from the claws and legs.

  • Pull the two halves apart and, using a small spoon, scoop out and discard the liver and brain matter. Rinse under cold water then press the shell on both sides to loosen the meat; it should come out in a single large piece.

Click here for this delicious lobster recipe with a fennel salad.

How to open crab

  • Twist off the cooked crab’s legs and claws, lift tail flap then, with a peeling motion, lift off the back shell.

  • Discard the whitish gills, liver and brain matter.

  • Rinse the crab.

  • Crack the body shell and pick out the meat, breaking the shell as needed.

  • Crack the claws with nutcrackers; break the legs in half and extract meat from these, using a skewer to help if necessary.


Try this delicious chilli crab recipe at home – it’s great for entertaining.

What’s the most humane way to kill a lobster?

The most acceptable method of killing lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans (as set out by RSPCA Australia) is to chill them to render them insensible. Crustaceans are cold blooded animals; when their temperature is reduced their activity slows and eventually they become numbed. Once chilled, crustaceans must be killed by spiking the nerve centre.

Live crustaceans should never be put into boiling water without first being chilled to render them insensible. Freeze live lobsters, bugs and scampi for at least 2 hours before cooking. Kill yabbies and marron by freezing for 2 hours.

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