Simple boiled lobster poached in a court bouillon of aromatic vegetables and herbs, and tarted up with Saint Germain, a deliciously fragrant elderflower liqueur.

Oh, boy, summertime is positively lobster time.

Simple boiled lobster poached in a court bouillon of aromatic vegetables and herbs, and tarted up with Saint Germain, a deliciously fragrant elderflower liqueur |

What’s the secret to amazing lobster?

Of course, it’s super easy to throw a few lobsters into a pot of boiling water and presto – out pops some amazing seafood.  But lobsters poached in court bouillon have an extra layer of flavor.

Court bouillon is a really simple poaching liquid that works well with many different types of seafood and shellfish – and doesn’t require much fussing around.

Simple boiled lobster poached in a court bouillon of aromatic vegetables and herbs, and tarted up with Saint Germain, a deliciously fragrant elderflower liqueur |

This has pretty much been our go-to lobster ritual for several years now.  Even before grilling, I’ll parboil lobsters in a court bouillon, loaded up with either elderflower liqueur or white wine and lemons, for up to 10 minutes.

And here’s why it’s so easy:

The exact measurement of ingredients in a court bouillon isn’t really critical.  Your only challenge is to aim for a great tasting combination of aromatic vegetables, herbs, salt, and some acidity via white wine, vermouth or lemon juice.

Court bouillon in lobster stock pot |

What’s the deal with elderflower?

Saint Germain is made from elderflower blossoms gathered on hilltops in the French Alps.

Fancy, right?

It’s delicious and makes an excellent Champagne cocktail in addition to adding an extra layer of flavor lobster meat.

I’d describe the flavor as being similar to pear or lychee, with a warm floral taste.  The bottle is pretty swanky and the amber colored liquid inside is warm and looks fabulous enough to sit out on a bar cart.

Saint Germain elderflower liqueur |

Cook each lobster to an internal temperature of 150°F / 70°C.  Use an instant-read meat thermometer with a thin metal probe, inserted into the base of the lobsters tail and into the body, to get an accurate reading.

With female lobsters, the roe inside the tail and body cavity will be reddish in color and firm when fully cooked.  If the roe is black, its natural color, this indicates the lobster is undercooked.

1 lb. lobster9 minutes
1 1/4 lbs. lobster10-11 minutes
1 1/2 lbs. lobster12-13 minutes
1 3/4 lbs. lobster15-16 minutes
2 lbs. lobster16-17 minutes
2 1/4 lbs. lobster17-18 minutes
3 lbs. lobster22-25 minutes
5 lbs. lobster35-40 minutes
Boiled Maine lobsters in court bouillon |

Lobster that’s overcooked becomes rubbery, but an undercooked lobster is far more unpleasant with an almost runny texture.  An instant-read meat thermometer comes in handy to avoid just this sort of situation.

Boiled Lobster in Court Bouillon and Elderflower Liqueur
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Poached lobster in a flavorful liquid of vegetables, aromatics, elderflower liqueur, and herbs. Use the poaching liquid for 2 to several lobsters, adjusting water and salt according to the size of the pot you use and how much water is needed to submerge the lobsters.
Serves: 4
  • 2 1¾ - 2 lbs live Maine lobsters
  • 6 quarts of water
  • 1 cup Elderflower liqueur, St Germaine if possible
  • 1 Vidalia onion
  • 3 celery stalks with leaves
  • 3 large carrots
  • 4 springs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
  • 6 tablespoon kosher salt
  1. Fill a large lobster pot about ⅔ full with cold water. Just enough to submerge all of the live lobsters you're going to poach.
  2. Roughly chop onion, carrot, celery and add to water.
  3. Add elderflower liqueur, smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, crushed cardamom pods, cracked pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt for each quart of water used to fill the pot.
  4. Bring pot to a boil and lower a simmer. Continue cooking, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Return to a boil. I prefer to cut the rubber bands from the lobster claws just before cooking. In fact, you may also want to dispatch your lobster by cutting down into the head between the eyes with a sharp pointed chef knife, instantly killing them. I do that with mine prior to going into the pot.
  6. Add lobsters head first to the boiling water and cover. Watch kettle as it returns to a boil and set your timer as soon as it does. See notes for cooking times according to lobster weight. Remove lobsters and place in a cold water bath.
  7. Place a cutting board in the bottom of your sink - slicing open lobsters is messy work. Using a large chef knife and scissors, cut each lobster down the middle. Serve lobster halves with clarified butter or extract the meat to create a delicious cold lobster salad.
Great tasting seafood really starts with your fishmonger so it's important to buy lobsters that are fresh, healthy, and kicking up a storm.

If you can't find elderflower liqueur, substitute with dry French vermouth or white wine.

Freeze the leftover lobster shells. Use them to create a delicious lobster broth for an excellent tasting seafood risotto.