Poor Mans Lobster

4.88 from 24 votes

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy.

Poor Mans Lobster with Melted Butter is a dish that you’ll never forget. It’s made with halibut, so it tastes just like lobster, but it doesn’t cost a fortune. It was our go-to recipe when we fished for halibut on the Alaskan coast. This is a great recipe if you’re looking to save some money while still getting an amazing meal!

Piece of Poor Man's Lobster dripping in butter on a fork.
Featured with this recipe
  1. Fresh Caught Fish
  2. Ingredients in Poor Mans Lobster
  3. Variations on this Recipe
  4. Cost vs. Benefit
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Catch of the Day
  7. How to Make Poor Mans Lobster
  8. Poor Mans Lobster Recipe

My favorite way to cook halibut is with melted butter. It’s a super simple dish that comes together in minutes and tastes like you’ve been cooking over a hot stove for hours.

The name of this recipe comes from its origins during a time when halibut was much cheaper than lobster which is not the case anymore! It definitely needs to be renamed “Rich Man’s Lobster!”

Fresh Caught Fish

YUMMMM!!! Just looking at this picture makes me want to make it again tonight. When Kevin, my Dad, and I went fishing in Alaska, we brought back tons of halibut and Poor Man’s Lobster was a common dish in our home for months. I never got sick of it and I don’t think I ever could. What I wouldn’t give to have a freezer full of halibut now. I don’t know if I would eat it or sell it to pay for my child’s college tuition.

Halibut is a white, flakey fish with a smooth texture. It is much better fresh than frozen. Frozen halibut tends to overcook and dry out. This way of preparing halibut to taste like lobster is amazing and easy, but it is also good when it is grilled or sautéed.

A special thanks to Elise for getting this recipe when she lived in Alaska. We enjoyed many wonderful times with her when she lived there. What a beautiful place!

Plate of Poor Man's Lobster, asparagus, dish of melted butter and lemon wedges.

Ingredients in Poor Mans Lobster

  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Halibut
  • Butter – sweet cream works great
  • Lemon
Ingredients to make Poor Man's Lobster including raw halibut, lemon, butter, salt and sugar.

Variations on this Recipe

For some fun flavor variations try some flavoring with the butter or brush some seasoning on to the fish after boiling. Some ideas to sprinkle on would be:

  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Basil and Oregano
  • ginger
  • thyme
  • dried chili peppers
  • garlic

Cost vs. Benefit

Halibut has been so expensive the past several years. I rarely see it on restaurant menus anymore. Halibut have become so scarce in the Atlantic Ocean that commercial fisherman are not allowed to catch them, and the Pacific Halibut supplies have been low for many years. It may also have something to do with the life cycle of halibut. They don’t reproduce until they are 8 years old. I’m hoping the day will come when halibut prices drop to a reasonable level again and then it will be more feasible to make this recipe. In the meantime, any affordable meaty whitefish with a firm texture works great for this recipe. Doing a fish boil will give the fish a similar consistency of lobster.

Frequently Asked Questions

What seafood is similar to lobster?

Other seafood similar to lobster are the crawfish, king crab, langoustine, bass, monkfish, cod, haddock, grouper, snapper, mahi mahi, and scallops. They have that sweet rich flavor that we love from lobster. With a little lemon juice and butter, you might not know the difference.

Read More: 35+ Quick and Easy To Follow Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Surely Love

Piece of Poor Man's Lobsters dripping with butter on a fork.

Catch of the Day

If you are looking to incorporate more seafood into your life, you will definitely want to check out these recipes.

  • Grilled Cilantro Lime Halibut is so easy to make and doesn’t taste fishy at all. Just fresh, flaky and fantastic!
  • Homemade Tartar Sauce uses freshly squeezed lemon and chopped dill. It is so easy to make and tastes better than anything you can buy in the store.
  • Thick and Hearty Seafood Chowder features big chunks of seasoned fish and potatoes. It is hands-down the best seafood chowder recipe ever! Thick, creamy and full of flavor.

How to Make Poor Mans Lobster

Piece of Poor Man's Lobster dripping in butter on a fork.

Poor Mans Lobster

4.88 from 24 votes
This way of preparing Halibut makes it taste just like lobster, especially when dipped in melted butter. The texture is smooth and tender.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Seafood
Servings 4


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 pound halibut
  • 1/2 cup butter (sweet cream works great)
  • 1 lemon


  • In a medium to large pot bring 2 quarts of water, sugar, and salt to a boil on medium-high heat.
    Pouring sugar into a pan of water for Poor Man's Lobster.
  • Cut halibut into 2-3 large pieces (so it cooks faster) and add to boiling water.
    Cooking halibut in pan of water for Poor Man's Lobster.
  • Boil for about 10 minutes or until halibut is nice and flaky.
    Tongs grabbing out cooked halibut from pan of water for Poor Man's Lobster.
  • In the meantime, melt butter in a pot, but do not boil.
    Melting butter in a sauce pan for Poor Man's Lobster.
  • Remove halibut from water, squeeze a little fresh lemon on it and serve with melted butter (I like to completely submerge my halibut in the melted butter, much like you would do with lobster).
    Squeezing lemons on cooked halibut for Poor Man's Lobster.


Enjoy your poor man’s lobster recipe by dipping your white fish fillets deeply in a bowl of butter and having lemon slices on standby. 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 227kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 21gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 5811mgPotassium: 531mgFiber: 1gSugar: 30gVitamin A: 76IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg

Love this recipe?

We want to hear from you! Please leave a review.

Rate and Review




Share This With the World


About the author

Emily Walker

Emily lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband, Beau, a physician assistant, and her three incredible children: a son and two daughters. Travel is one of her favorite ways to experience new cultures and cuisines, and she has a love for all things Disney.

More about Emily Walker

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 3 stars
    Fellow life long Alaskan here and boiling the halibut for 10 mins really changes the texture. Boil for less time and let sit in warm melted butter.

  2. 5 stars
    Dear Emily,
    I’m a die-hard Alaska Chick, a Fifty-five-year resident, growing up fishing, hunting, and exploring.
    Halibut is a favorite delicacy in our family and I have enjoyed it prepared in many ways over my lifetime.
    Your recipe is a welcome and delightful variation in the preparation of this delicious fish and my family and friends love it!
    Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe,
    The Alaska Chick

  3. It was good, but it wasn’t really the right texture to remind me of lobster. I’m wondering if I cooked it too long. As soon as it came to the top, I took it out of the boiling water. So should I have cooked it longer or not so long?

  4. Mine was tough and chewy. I boiled it for 7 minutes. Found out you are supposed to put it in the boiling water and only boil until it floats to the top then boil 90 seconds more. It keeps cooking after you pull it out. I just ruined a pound of Halibut.

See More Comments