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Can you eat the stuff in lobster head?

Lobster is a delicious seafood that is enjoyed around the world. While the tail and claws contain the largest portions of meat, some people wonder if the stuff inside the lobster head is edible as well.

The head of a lobster contains some meat, but not as much as the tail and claws. The edible parts are primarily in the legs, antennae, and mandibles (mouth parts). Eating the stuff in a lobster head is possible, but there are some cautions to consider.

What’s Inside a Lobster Head?

The lobster head contains the following parts:

  • Eyes
  • Antennae
  • Mouthparts (mandibles and maxillae)
  • Digestive tract
  • Gills
  • Brain
  • Legs

The eyes are not edible. The antennae, mandibles, maxillae, and legs do contain some meat, but not a lot. The digestive tract and gills are not edible and should be discarded. The brain is edible, but very small.

Here is a breakdown of the edible vs. inedible parts:


  • Antennae
  • Mouthparts (mandibles, maxillae)
  • Legs
  • Brain


  • Eyes
  • Digestive tract
  • Gills

So in summary, the antennae, mouthparts, legs, and brain can be eaten, but the eyes, digestive tract, and gills should be discarded.

Is Eating Lobster Head Worth It?

While the parts of a lobster head are edible, the amount of meat is relatively small compared to the tail and claws. Here is an estimate of how much meat different lobster parts contain:

Lobster Part Estimated Meat Content
Tail 25-30% of total meat
Claws 50-60% of total meat
Legs 5-10% of total meat
Head 1-5% of total meat

As you can see, the tail and especially the claws contain the bulk of the lobster meat. The legs have a moderate amount, while the head only contains a small fraction.

Whether eating the lobster head is worth the effort comes down to personal preferences. Some people enjoy sucking out every last bit of flavor. For others, the tiny amount of meat in the head isn’t worthwhile.

Keep in mind that extracting the meat from the head takes additional time and effort. First you have to crack open the hard shell. Then you need to pick or suck the meat out of all the small crevices. Compare this to the large concentrated chunks of meat in the tail and claws.

If you are cooking lobster for a special occasion or meal, the extra effort to get the head meat may not be justified. However, if you are eating casual boiled lobster and have the time, you can crack open the head for a little extra lobster goodness.

How to Eat the Meat from a Lobster Head

If you want to eat the meat from a lobster head, here are some tips:

  • Use lobster crackers or small hammers to crack open the shell. Try to keep the pieces as large as possible.
  • Use picks, small forks, or your fingers to pull out the meat. Tweezers also work well.
  • Start by removing the antennae and legs. Crack at the joints and pull out the meat.
  • Crack open the mouth area and suck or scrape out meat from the mandibles, maxillae, and throat area.
  • Optionally, you can crack the top shell and scoop out the brain, but there is very little meat here.
  • Discard the eyes, digestive tract, gills and other inedible parts.
  • Rinse the picked meat to remove small shell fragments.
  • Eat the meat on its own, add it to salads, stir fries, or seafood dishes.

It takes practice to efficiently extract all the meat. Work over a bowl to catch any juices and meat. Don’t feel like you need to get every last bit – focus on the larger, more accessible chunks.

Cracking and picking out the head meat can be a fun family activity, especially for lobster lovers who want to enjoy every morsel. Just have realistic expectations – the head won’t provide nearly as much meat as the claws and tail.

Should You Cook the Lobster Head?

The lobster head meat doesn’t necessarily need to be cooked since the lobster was already cooked whole. However, you can cook the head meat further if desired.

Here are some options for cooking lobster head meat:

  • Sauté: Chop up the meat and sauté briefly in butter or olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, herbs, lemon, etc.
  • Broil: Place the chopped meat on a tray and broil for 2-3 minutes until heated through.
  • Bake: Add pieces to a casserole, pasta dish, or risotto and bake until heated through.
  • Grill: Thread pieces of meat onto skewers and grill for 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Fry: Coat the meat in breading or batter and fry until golden brown.

Cooking can add nice flavor and texture. But it’s also fine to enjoy the head meat cold, such as in lobster rolls or salads.

Taste and Texture

The meat from the lobster head has a similar flavor to the claw and tail meat. It’s sweet and briny with a firm texture.

However, the antennae and smaller leg segments can be slightly crunchy. The mandible meat may have a tougher, chewier texture.

Make sure to remove any inedible parts that can alter the flavor. Properly trimmed, the lobster head meat tastes just like the more desirable claw and tail meat.


Lobster head meat has an excellent nutritional profile. Here are some of the main nutrients found in a 3 oz (85 gram) serving:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 90
Protein 19 g
Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 60 mg
Sodium 330 mg
Potassium 260 mg

As you can see, lobster head meat is low in fat and calories while providing high-quality complete protein. It also contains essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc.

The only downside is the high cholesterol content – around 200 mg per 3 oz serving. This is to be expected with shellfish, so enjoy lobster meat in moderation if you are watching your cholesterol.

Precautions When Eating Lobster Head

While lobster head meat is certainly edible, there are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the lobster is thoroughly cooked to minimize risk of food poisoning.
  • Properly trim away any inedible parts like the eyes, brain matter, digestive tract, etc.
  • Watch out for small fragments of shell and remove before eating the meat.
  • Avoid the green liver or tomalley, which can accumulate toxins.
  • People with shellfish allergies should avoid lobster altogether.

In some cases, the lobster head can contain higher levels of pollutants compared to the body meat. This is because toxins can accumulate in lobster heads over time.

To be on the safe side, limit consumption of lobster head meat, especially for children and pregnant women. The tail and claw meat are safer options.

Only eat lobster head meat that has been properly removed from reputable cooked lobster. Avoid eating raw lobster meat or cooked meat that seems spoiled.

Leftover Lobster Head Meat

If you have picked lobster head meat left over, here are some tips for storage:

  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Wrap tightly and freeze for 2-3 months.
  • Preserve in butter or oil in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Store in bisque, chowder, or stock in the freezer.
  • Pickle in vinegar for extended shelf life.

Only reheat leftover lobster meat to 165°F or until hot steaming. Do not microwave meat directly due to uneven cooking.

Use leftover lobster head meat in recipes like omelets, pasta, sandwiches, bisque, or seafood salad. The small pieces work well in any dish needing bite-sized lobster.


While lobster claws and tails are the prized parts of the lobster, the head does contain some edible meat, primarily in the legs, antennae, and mouthparts. You can crack open the shell and pick out this meat for extra lobster enjoyment.

However, be aware that the head contains only a small amount of meat compared to other body parts. It also takes more time and effort to extract.

For many people, the minimal meat reward isn’t worth the trouble, especially for special occasions. But lobster lovers can have fun picking their way through the head.

Just take proper safety precautions, trimming inedible parts and ensuring the lobster is fully cooked. Treat leftover head meat properly as well. Then you can safely enjoy this bonus lobster treat.