Lobster Stock

It is always a good idea, whenever you cook lobster, to save the shells for making stock, either as a pure lobster stock, or else in combination with other seafood ‘leftovers’ such as shrimp shells or fish-bones. Some lobster stocks can be quite complex, employing many additions such as garlic, celery, tomato paste and various aromatics, for example, but for today, I am going use just the shells along with nothing else but some white peppercorns and a bay leaf. The result will be simple enough to be highly versatile, and can then be used as the base for soups, stews and sauces…

These are the shells leftover from a couple of 1 1/2lb. lobsters my wife and I ate for lunch the other day. Normally, with only such a small amount of shell, I would be adding them to other seafood ingredients but, although the yield will be small here, the quantity will be sufficient to illustrate the basic method.

Roasting the broken shells will not only improve the flavor, it will also help keep the resulting stock nicely clear. To do this, heat your oven to 425 degrees and then pop your shells inside to roast for about 30 minutes or so. When you remove them, the aroma will be very rich and delicious and the shells will be quite fragile, with a bleached appearance. At this point, it is a good idea to crush them into even smaller fragments with a pestle or other heavy object so as to create maximum surface area.

The amount of water is not critical, but, in terms of volume, you need roughly about twice amount of water as the shell quantity. Here, I used 2 quarts of water and then added a tablespoon of white peppercorns and a bay leaf. The leaf will be removed after about a half hour of simmering so as to obtain just a bare hint of its flavor.

Bring the water to moderate simmer, skimming any froth from the surface, and allow to ‘brew’ for about 2 – 3 hours, by which time the liquid will have reduced by about one-half. At this point the resultant stock will be very mild and, normally, especially with larger amounts of shell and water, you would want to reduce it a little further so as to concentrate the flavors a bit. As it is, though, the taste here is still very pleasant and suitable for acting as a soup base along with other additions. With this small yield, however, I intend to freeze it in ice-cube trays so that I can use small individual amounts as the foundation for stir-fry sauces…


  1. Good idea to roast the shells. I’ve done lobster stock to make lobster risotto, but didn’t think of adding that step. Did you use only the shells or also other parts you didn’t eat?

    1. Just the meat left in the body, little legs and flippers. The stock is mild but still tasty.

  2. We had lobster the other night and I was wondering what I could do with the remains! Will have to have lobster again soon and try this. Thanks. Love your posts.

  3. This is a great idea, I never would have thought to make stock out of the shells. I dont’ eat seafood but my boyfriend loves it. I just ordered a few lobsters online and I plan to make a nice surf and turf dinner for him this weekend. I am definitely going to make lobster stock also. Thanks for the great idea Sybaritica!

    1. I hope you both enjoy the dinner … The more shells you have, the better. Small amounts work but I prefer making a big batch so you can concentrate it a bit more. If you steam the lobster, save the liquid that comes out and add that to the broth too 🙂

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