A plate with a cooked lobster and some melted butter.

Maine Lobster vs Other Lobster: What Is The Difference?

Why do people choose Maine lobster vs other lobster? Lobster is known for being delicious, but which type is better and what’s the difference? Learn how to choose between different types of lobsters and find out why Maine lobster is the best.

One of the many things Maine is known for is having amazing lobster. In this post, you’ll find out what makes our lobster so good.

What Is The Difference Between Maine Lobster And Other Types Of Lobster?

Even though they are all lobsters, there are still some major differences between the different species of lobster. The most obvious and well-known difference is the taste.

While all of the different types of lobster have a similar taste of sea and salt, each one has its own individual nuances. So if you’re planning on getting your next lobster fix any time soon, here is a quick rundown of the differences between these cousins from the ocean.

✅ Maine Lobster

Maine lobster is the king of all crustaceans. It commands the highest price, is the largest species, and most people think it tastes the best. Maine lobster is still somewhat plentiful thanks to limits on trapping, but like all crustaceans, they are on a downward spiral.

Maine lobster is caught off the coast of New England in the Atlantic Ocean. They are usually sold live with their claws bound with rubber bands, but can also be found frozen (definitely not as good as fresh) or cooked.

Some stores will even cook the lobster you purchase from them for free.

Fresh Maine lobster with banded claws.
Maine lobster with banded claws.

Maine lobster has a delicate and sweet flavor, which makes it a favorite for most people. It makes a great lobster roll, lobster bisque, and lobster salad. If you can find a fresh lobster that has been caught recently, it’s a great choice since it tastes the best.

If you can find a freshly caught lobster and you cook it in a pot of seawater over a fire on the beach, cracking it with rocks, well, that’s the best way you will ever have it!

Read on to learn the differences between Maine lobster and some other popular lobsters, as well as why Maine lobster is the best lobster!

✅ Maine Lobster vs Canadian Lobster

What’s the difference between Maine lobster and Canadian lobster? Not much, really.

The Canadian lobster is the Maine lobster’s closest rival. The main difference between the Maine lobster and the Canadian lobster is the thickness of the shell.

Since the waters in Canada are colder than the waters off of Maine, Canadian lobsters have thicker, harder shells.

Due to the thickness of its shell, you will find less meat in the lobster. This is why Canadian lobster is not as expensive as Maine lobster. As the lobster grows, there is space between its shell and the meat which gets filled with ocean water. Thicker shell. Less meat.

Like Maine lobster, the Canadian lobster has a sweet, but very subtle flavor. Of course, as similar as they are, I’m pretty sure Maine lobster is still better! Although there is very little difference between Canadian lobster vs Maine lobster.

If it comes down to Maine vs Canadian lobster, I’m still picking Maine! (Just Like I do with Maine vs. New Hampshire 😃.)

Spiny lobster-no claws.
Spiny lobster vs Maine lobster–huge difference: no claws!

✅ Maine Lobster vs Rock (or Spiny) Lobster

The most important difference for people who plan on eating, and not studying the lobsters, is that the spiny lobster does not have any claws! The spiny lobster has a hard shell, longer antennae, and longer, spidery-looking legs compared to the Maine lobster.

The spiny lobster is often sold as just lobster tails. So, the next time you see a package of lobster tails for sale at your local supermarket, chances are it’s spiny lobster.

Spiny lobsters also prefer warm waters, while Maine lobsters prefer cold water.

✅ Maine Lobster vs Florida Lobster

Florida lobsters are a type of Spiny lobster, so all the differences noted above between Maine Lobster and Spiny (or Rock Lobster) hold true for Florida lobster. Sometimes this lobster is called a gulf lobster.

Florida lobster vs Maine lobster really isn’t even a contest. 😁

Interesting Fact
Back in the day, like waaaay back in the day, lobsters were fed to prisoners in Maine because they were so abundant they were considered a pest species!

Why Maine Has The Best Lobstah Evah

It’s no secret that we (Mainers) are obsessed with our native crustaceans. The state produces more than 90 percent of the domestic supply of these tasty critters. That means there’s a veritable feast waiting for you if you book a trip to Maine.

We think the best things in life are often those that are simple.

When it comes to food, nothing is simpler or more delicious than perfectly cooked Maine lobster. Fresh-from-the-ocean lobster has its own unique flavor and aroma that can’t be found anywhere else in the country (or even the world).

So why is Maine lobster so much better than any other type of lobster?

Here are seven reasons good reasons (especially if you’re eating it in Maine):

Lobster boats in a Maine harbor.
Lobster boats in Corea, Maine

1. The water matters

Lobsters are marine creatures, but not all coastal waters are created equal. The specific makeup of the water will affect the taste of the lobster. We see this most clearly in the types of lobsters that you’ll find in restaurants.

For example, the most common lobster in American restaurants is Homarus americanus, known as the Maine lobster, because it just tastes the best due to the coastal environment of Maine.

In general, lobster from the Atlantic Ocean will have a stronger flavor than that from the Pacific or other warmer waters. Cold water has more minerals in it, which makes for better-tasting meat.

The Maine lobster gets its rich flavor from the cold, mineral-rich waters of the Gulf of Maine.

2. A short trip is a good trip

Fresh Maine lobster tastes so much better than lobster that has been living in a crowded, dirty tank in a grocery store for who knows how long. It just goes to show you how delicious Maine lobster is that it still tastes good after that treatment!

In Maine, the most common way of catching lobsters is by dropping a long rectangular trap along the ocean floor. Each trap is made of metal wires or old-school wooden slats. These traps will stay on the ocean floor for up to two days.

The best time to catch lobsters is during the warm months when the seawater is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Which, fortunately, coincides with the short but fabulous Maine summer.

Stacked lobster traps.
Stacked lobster traps

3. Size matters . . . but only for claws and tails

Lobsters grow by molting, which is a version of growing that replaces an old and raggedy exoskeleton with a new, larger one.

This is why some lobster shells will be so hard and thick, while others are almost pliable. It depends on whether or not they are molting, and what stage they are at.

The best lobsters are those that are about three years old. Some lobsters can get as large as 25 pounds, but the typical weight for a lobster is between 1 and 2 pounds.

The claws and tails of the lobster are the parts that most people like to eat, but there is a lot of meat in other places as well.

Female lobsters tend to have wider tails than male lobsters, while male lobsters tend to have larger claws.

4. Lobster isn’t just a fancy entree in Maine

Lobster is almost a dietary staple in Maine. Every year, more than 130 million pounds of lobster are caught in the state, which is enough to provide 131 pounds of lobster for every person in the state.

Lobster has become so entwined with the culture and cuisine of Maine that the state even hosts an annual lobster festival.

The lobster festival is a 10-day celebration that takes place in mid-August every year. It’s the biggest festival in Maine and the longest-running culinary festival in the U.S.

There are lots of events and activities that take place during the festival, but the most famous event is the lobster cooking contest.

A lobsterman wearing yellow rain gear holding out a big live lobster.

5. It’s all about the butter

What sets Maine lobster apart from other lobsters is not just its amazing taste (though that is enough) it’s also that it’s not eaten with melted butter. Rather, it’s served with clarified butter. Clarified butter is essential to enjoying the authentic Maine lobster experience.

Why is clarified butter better than regular butter for lobster? The reason is that clarified butter has had all of the milk solids removed from it. This process makes the butter clear and allows the sweetness of the lobster to come through even better.

Another favorite way to eat Maine lobster is with Saltine crackers. Delicious.

6. Everyone knows a great place to eat lobster

Like all foods–or all types of lobster, not all restaurants are created equal. If you want to experience the best Maine lobsters, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eating at one of the best lobster shacks in the state.

🦞 Boothbay Harbor has an actual lobster pier and there are restaurants on it.

🦞 Belfast offers several lobster cruises on lobster boats where you can also eat lobster rolls!

There are many ways you can tell if a lobster shack is truly worthy of the title. While there is no official ranking list for the best lobster shacks in the state, there are a few key indicators that you can watch out for:

✔️ Is the restaurant located close to the ocean?

✔️ Are there lots of lobster traps outside?

✔️ Does the restaurant offer a view of the water?

If you see these signs, you’ve probably found yourself a great lobster shack.

Lobster buoys and traps on Bailey Island with the ocean in the background.

7. And finally: You can’t beat the view

The best places to eat lobster in Maine are usually located in scenic spots. This makes sense, since the whole point of visiting Maine is to enjoy the stunning scenery.

The Essential Guide To Preparing Lobster

The type of eater you are and the setting in which you’ll be eating your lobster will determine what you do with yours. But wherever your tastes take you, we’ve got all the insider knowledge on how to eat a lobster correctly.

So put your bib on and get ready to crack into these tips…

Basic Ways To Enjoy A Lobster

There are a lot of different ways to enjoy lobster. However, there are a few that are more common than others. How you eat your lobster will likely depend on how you cook it.

Let’s talk about boiled lobster. Boiled lobster is enjoyed whole. It’s usually served with melted butter (clarified), lemon and/or a homemade sauce.

Baked lobster is typically served in halves. You can enjoy baked lobster as is, or you can add a sauce or stuffing to the meat.

Grilled lobster can be enjoyed whole, or it can be enjoyed with a sauce or stuffing. Sauteed lobster is usually served in pieces, with a sauce or in a mixture.

Baked stuffed lobster on a plate.

➡️ How To Purchase, Store, & Cook Your Lobster

Let’s look at how to eat lobster at home, as this is the most common way to eat lobster. When it comes to eating lobster at home, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

You’ll want to make sure you’re buying fresh lobster. You can do this by looking for a firm texture and a vibrant color. You can also check the bottom of the lobster’s body. If it’s green or yellow, the lobster is likely old and not safe to eat.

You’ll want to store your lobster in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook and eat it. You can wrap it in damp newspapers or paper bags and store it in the crisper of your refrigerator. Ideally, you’ll want to consume your lobster within 24 hours of purchase.

For the best taste and texture, you’ll want to boil your lobster. It is not uncommon for people to stick their live lobsters into a pot of boiling water. It is now a more acceptable practice to kill them quickly just prior to putting them into the boiling water.

You can do this by placing the point of a large knife just behind their eyes and striking the knife hard and quickly so that the knife penetrates the shell and kills the lobster instantly. There is no difference in the taste or texture if you practice this more humane method.

➡️ How Long Do I Boil Lobster?

You will generally boil lobster for 7 minutes for the first pound, and another 3 or so minutes for each additional pound. You will know it’s done when it turns bright red.

If you are unsure whether or not it is cooked, remove the lobster from the water, flip it over, and check the tail meat. With a knife, cut into the tail. If the meat is white, it is done. If it is still translucent it needs more cooking time.

Plate of lobster with butter and lemon.

5 Steps To Eating Maine Lobster Like A Mainer

Now that your lobster is ready, your table is covered with newspapers, and you’ve got your clarified butter (and maybe your Saltines!), it’s time to eat! Make sure you have bowls because as you crack open your lobster, you’ll get a lot of water running out!

If you have them, get your lobster crackers (like a nut cracker) and lobster picks (long pointy utensils that allow you to dig into the crevices of the shells. Forks and anything that will crack the shell will do.

Close up of Maine lobster claw and nut cracker.
A nutcracker will work just fine for your lobster.

➡️ First, find the tail. Tails usually have the most meat, so many people start here. Grab the tail in one hand and the lobster in the other and twist to pull the tail off the body.

When you pull the tail off, you might see a bunch of green and/or orange stuff. This is common, and some people find it a delicacy, while others wash it off (or give it to someone who thinks it’s a delicacy!).

The green is called tomalley, and you can think of it as pate or foie gras. The orange is roe.

Back to getting the lobster meat out of the tail. If you are really lucky, you will be able to pull the meat out by using a fork. Often, though, you will need to crack the tail open.

You can do this by cutting down the center of the underneath part of the tail. You can also just hold the edges and pull outwards and down with both hands, which should break the sides of the tail allowing you to open it up completely and get the meat out.

split open Maine lobster tail.

Also, there is actually meat in the little flaps of the lobster tail if you want to take the time to get it out.

➡️ Next, find the claws. The claws often have sweet and tasty meat, and to many people, this is the best part of the lobster. Once you’ve found the claws, grab them by the knuckle (the little arm the claw is attached to) and twist them off of the lobster’s body.

Hands pulling lobster claw off body of cooked lobster.

Be careful, because the knuckles are often spiny!

Now you can pull the little claw off and find a tiny strip of meat in it. For the larger part of the claw, you can use your lobster cracker, a mallet, or give it a sharp rap with the back edge of a large kitchen knife.

Pull the shell apart, and now you have the amazing, tender meat of the claw.

Don’t forget the knuckles! There is plenty of meat in those as well. The easiest way to get this meat is the crack the shell open instead of trying to pull the meat out.

➡️ Lastly, pull off the little legs. There are different ways to eat these little legs. Some people suck or chew the meat out. Others cut them with a knife. Still, others use a rolling pin or its equivalent to roll the meat out of them. Whichever way you do it, don’t discount the legs!

➡️ If you really want to get everything you can out of the lobster, you’ll have to head into the body cavity. You can actually separate the body from the shell by just pulling it apart. Once that is done, you’ll be able to see little bits of meat here and there.

At the top of where each little leg was attached, you’ll find little coins of meat. Some people have virtually nothing left but shell and a few scraps, while others never venture into the body. It just depends on their comfort level.

Lobster roll.

How To Eat Leftover Lobster

No one knows because it doesn’t happen. Just kidding. You can always clean your lobster and store the meat in the refrigerator so you can make lobster rolls the next day, or eat it cold with clarified butter and crackers. You won’t want to heat it up again.

Maine Lobster vs Other Lobster: What Is The Difference?

Now you know the difference between Maine, Canadian, and Spiny (or Rock or Florida) lobster. And why is Maine lobster so good? The Maine coastal conditions are just perfect to grow lobsters whose shells are not too thick and whose meat is sweet and tender

Boiling a lobster at home is quite easy, although, again, it is now accepted practice to kill the lobster first instead of boiling it alive!

If you have the chance to get to Maine to eat truly fresh lobster, you’ll find there’s nothing like it. Even if you can’t eat it on a beach boiled in seawater, you now know how to find a good lobster restaurant–any local will also point you in the right direction.

Lastly, if you’re eating at home, you can eat it like a pro!

So, what type of lobster is the best? Obviously Maine lobster!

Now that you know all about our lobster, check out our newest obsession–our coffee, or an old standby, sea urchin.