How Long Can Lobster Stay in the Fridge Before Cooking?

By Kimberly Ripley

Lobster has long been one of man's favorite tasty delicacies from the sea. Awash in melted butter, served with a baked potato or french fries and maybe even a side of steamed clams---the meal is to be savored. Many folks look forward to a yearly fresh lobster feast when visiting the coast of Maine, but you can cook your own lobster at home. Follow some simple safety guidelines for assurance that your lobster is the freshest it can be.

Cook your lobster the same day you purchase it for optimal flavor and food safety.


Some folks express concern over when their lobster was caught. If it is kept in a lobster tank, however, this doesn't really matter, as natural living conditions are replicated quite reasonably within the tank. The issue then becomes how long the lobster can safely stay in your refrigerator before you cook it.

Not Long

In a nutshell (or lobster shell, as the case may be) you shouldn't leave the lobster in your refrigerator very long before cooking it. According to local fishermen in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire region, the sooner you cook your lobster the better. This is both for food safety purposes and so you consume the lobster at its peak of freshness.

Time Frame

The life expectancy of a hard-shell lobsters is between 24 and 36 hours out of the water. Soft-shell lobsters last only two to four hours once removed from the ocean or tank.

The general rule of thumb, as reported by most fishermen, is to cook your lobsters the day you purchase them, and to make sure you are purchasing them either straight from the ocean or from a lobster tank at a reputable market.