The 12 Types of Lobster – An Eater’s Guide

People have been eating lobster since prehistoric times, though they probably didn’t care much about the types of lobster they were indulging in. Today, lobster is considered more of a delicacy, but most folks don’t realize that there are 12 different types of lobster typically eaten.

Broadly speaking, and from a culinary perspective, there are two major classifications of lobster: warm water lobster and cold water lobster. 

As you’ll see, cold water lobster has large claws that have become synonymous with what we think of when eating lobster. Warm water lobsters are also delicious but lack the claws that most people think of when enjoying lobster.

Warm Water Lobster

Warm water lobsters do not have front claws but rather think antennae. These lobsters are commonly known as “rock lobsters” or “spiny lobsters.” Warm water lobsters are often less expensive than their cold-water counterparts but do not have claws. Warm water lobsters are primarily known for their delectable tail meat.

Australian Lobster

Australian lobsters are typically found off the northwest coast of Australia and are fished year-round, meaning they’re in season all year long. This type of lobster is pretty pricey compared to others at $45 per pound for live lobsters.

These lobsters are typically red or green and have a uniquely rich, sweet flavor. Like other lobster types, the Australian lobster is versatile for cooking, making it a fantastic choice for various dishes.

California Lobster

These spiny lobsters are found along the California coast from Monterey Bay to Mexico. California lobsters are typically in season from October to March, and they are fished commercially and recreationally. 

Much like the Australian lobster, the California lobster has a delicate, sweet flavor. However, this lobster has a distinct nutty flavor, too.

Interestingly, California lobsters are a big part of the economy in California. These lobsters are sold for almost three times the price in China, making the sale a crucial part of the economy on the west coast. These lobsters start at about $25 per pound when bought live.

Caribbean Lobster

When you think of lobster tail meat, you’re going to want to think of Caribbean lobster. These lobsters are found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast of the Caribbean. 

They have a unique pattern of yellow stripes and gray and brown spots. Caribbean lobsters are in season from August to March and have a similar price as California lobsters at $25 per pound.

Many recipes can utilize the meat from a Caribbean lobster’s tail, but it is also delicious with only a touch of butter basting. A simple preparation will allow the sweet, succulent flavor of the tail to shine on its own.

South African Lobster

South African lobsters are unique in that they’re considered a warm water species, yet they live in cold water. Unless you live in South Africa, you’re going to have to get this type of lobster flown in frozen, which will cost you at least $45 per pound.

Those who have tried South African lobster know how delicious, succulent, and sweet its tail is. South African lobsters are in season from November to April, and the South African Government strictly manages their trade.

Cold Water Lobster

Unsurprisingly, cold-water lobsters live in cold ocean climates. These lobsters are the ones with big, meaty claws that people have come to enjoy over the years. They also have a distinct flavor, so these are the lobsters you’ll find in most restaurants as well.

Canadian Lobster

Canadian lobsters are found on the coast of Canada and are harvested from October through January and June through July. These lobsters are mainly prized for their claw meat, and you can expect to pay at least $20 per pound when purchasing live lobsters.

There tends to be some debate in lobster discussion circles about the true difference between Maine and Canadian lobsters. The answer, however, is pretty simple – Canadian waters are colder than Maine waters, making their lobsters have harder shells and more dense meat. 

If you purchase Canadian lobster, you can expect to indulge in a sweet flavor profile.

Maine Lobster

When you think of lobster, you probably think of Maine lobster – big claws, five sets of legs, and a large tail. To many lobster-eaters, Maine lobster is the best lobster you can eat. It can also get pretty expensive, clocking in at $20 per pound for live lobster and upwards of $70 per pound when frozen.

Flavor-wise, Maine lobster is briny, sweet, and is typically served in restaurants. While these lobsters are generally caught year-round, their peak season is actually between June and December.

New Zealand Lobster

When cooked, lobster turns a pretty bright red color, but New Zealand lobsters are naturally a scarlet red. These lobsters are harvested from the coast of New Zealand and then flown to markets around the world, especially in Asia. This type of lobster can average $60 per pound when purchased live.

Like other lobster types, New Zealand lobster provides a succulent and sweet flavor profile alongside a firm texture. The primary season for New Zealand lobsters is from May to February.

Other Types of Lobster

There are a few other types of lobster, but they aren’t typically eaten and therefore have no purpose on this list. Some types of lobster are even endangered, so you should avoid those. Just stick to indulging in the lobsters from this list, and you’ll have an excellent meal in no time.

For more ingredient substitutes and culinary principles take advantage of our wealth of knowledge in the Kitchen Ambition Cooking School.

About the author

Jessie is an on-the-go mother of two, who takes pride in introducing her kids to fresh, healthy options from local growers. She is an author and documentary-style photographer focused on natural light work with food, families and community organizations.

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