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If you learn how to cook any shellfish then you should learn how to cook the best - fresh oysters. American oysters come in an incredible array of flavors - including sweet, buttery, and briny.
Learning how to cook them properly will only make them more delicious.
There are endless ways to cook oysters. In this article you will learn our 11 favorite recipes - ranging from the classic Rockefeller oyster, to an oyster stew, and a simple but classic way to serve raw oysters.
We will also be talking you through how to safely open oysters, and how to clean them properly.
This is your one-stop guide to cooking oysters. Let's begin by looking at how to open an oyster safely.
A beginner's guide to opening oysters
If you want to regularly cook oysters then you are going to have to learn two skills - how to clean oysters and how to open them without losing a finger. Let's start by learning how to open an oyster.
The key to getting the best tasting oysters on your table is to never buy pre-opened oysters. Your oysters should be as fresh as possible, picked from a cold water area, and come still closed.
There are many species of oysters, each of which looks different. Some are bigger than our hands, others are as small as a quarter. No matter which type of oyster you are cooking with you can use this technique to open them.
You will need the right equipment to open your oysters. We recommend getting an oyster knife set (that comes with the knife and gloves).
It is not recommended that you try to open oysters with a normal knife as the metal is brittle. The knife may slip and cut you, or it may snap off inside the oyster.
Oyster knives have thick and blunt blades with a pointed edge that gets between the shell. They should have a round handle that provides a better grip than a squared one.
Shucking gloves will help to protect your fingers if you slip. They tend to be made of a rough material that clings onto the oysters.
How to open an oyster:
Step 1 - Place the oyster curved side down on a chopping board. If you are not wearing gloves you will want to place a towel between you and the oyster.
Step 2 - Find the hinge between the two shell halves. When you find it, slide your knife between the shell and push upwards. You will have to put some force behind this, but eventually it will crack open.
Step 3 - Remove any bits of fractured shell from the oyster flesh, but keep any liquid inside the shell.
And that's it, you have now successfully shucked your first oyster. The first of many we hope.
A beginner's guide to cleaning oysters
- Brush (toothbrushes work really well for this)
Now, we are going to learn the second essential skill in your oyster skill set - cleaning your oysters.
As we mentioned before, you want to serve the freshest oysters possible, if you want to get the best flavor out of them. This means buying closed, fresh oysters.
If your oysters come and they still have sand and silt on them, this is a good sign. This shows that your supplier has got them to you as quickly as they could.
However, getting super fresh oysters means that you will have to learn how to clean your own oysters.
The good news is that this is not a difficult task, but it may be a little bit time consuming the first few times you do it.
You will want to make sure that you keep your oysters as cold as possible while you are cleaning them.
So, we recommend keeping your oysters in a bucket of ice while you are waiting to cleanand then move them into the fridge before you serve them.
It is best to clean them in a bucket of ice cold water too.
Dunk each oyster into the cold water then take the oyster in your non-dominant hand. Use your brush to scrub the oyster clean.
It is done when you can no longer get any dirt off it. However, if you cannot completely remove the outer dirt do not worry, as you will not be eating the shell.
How to cook fresh oysters?
Thai Style Oysters (and condiments) - Prep time, 10 mins // Cooking time 5 minutes // Total time 15 minutes
- Oyster knife
- For the Granita
- 2 Lebanese zucchini or 1 continental/English zucchini
- 1 tsp salt
- juice 1 lime
- zest of lime
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander
For the Thai Dressing
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup grated palm sugar or raw sugar
- 3 red chilies
- 1/2 garlic clove
Preparing the oysters:
- Clean and open your oysters, leave under a damp towel in the fridge until plating up.
- Just before plating up, add a sprinkle of salt to each oyster.
- Preparing the Granita:
- Garate your cucumber, sprinkle it with salt, and set aside for 10 mins.
- After 10 mins, squeeze any excess moisture out of the cucumber. Throw away the flesh of the cucumber.
- Mix the lime juice, zest, and chopped coriander in with the cucumber juice. Then add the water.
- Place the granita into the freezer, stirring every so often until it starts to look like blended ice
Preparing the dressing:
- Heat the rice wine vinegar until it is slightly too warm to touch.
- Pour in the sugar and stir until it has melted through
- Finely chop the chili and garlic, then add to the rice wine vinegar
- Set the whole thing aside to cool
Plating the dish:
- Move your oysters onto a bed of crushed ice
- Add a teaspoon of the Granita to each oyster
- Add dressing to taste
How to cook large oysters?
A warming oyster stew - Prep time 10 mins // Cook time 25 mins // Total time 35 mins
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 cups whole milk or half and half
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 16 ounces of oysters
If you do not buy pre-shucked oysters, then you can learn how to open oysters in an earlier section.
You will need to shuck your oyster before you start cooking. However, you should keep them in their shells.
Step 1 - Add the butter to the bottom of your pan and let it melt. Then dice and add your onions. Fry off until they start to brown and soften - this should take about 5 minutes. Grate your garlic into the pan, and leave to fry for another 2 minutes. After this add your salt, paprika, black pepper, and red pepper.
Step 2 - Take your open oysters and drain the liquid out of them (we will call this oyster brine from now on). Keep the brine for the next step. Put the flesh of the oyster back in the fridge for the final step.
Step 3 - Lower the heat in the pan. Then add the milk, finely chopped parsley, chili, and the oyster brine.
Step 4 - Keep on a low heat until the whole soup is heated. You should steam rising off it. Because this is a milk-based soup you do not want to let it reach the boil. Season to personal taste.
Step 5 - Once you are happy with the texture of your soup you can add the oysters. You should allow the soup to simmer until the oysters start to curl at the edges. Then take off the heat and serve with the bread of your choice.
How to cook live oysters?
Fire Pit roasted oysters, fresh from the sea. Prep time 5 mins // Cook time 8 mins // Total time 13 mins
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or dashes of Tabasco)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
- 16 oysters
This is the perfect recipe for whipping up oysters for friends on the beach. Cooking your oysters like this will give you a salty, spicy, and smoky flavor.
The best oysters for this recipe are East Coast Atlantic oysters. The further North you can get them from, the better.
If you do cook on the beach then you may want to chop up your garlic and parsley before leaving. This will mean you have less sand in your food - always a win.
You will want to begin by setting up your Fire Pit (or campfire). When it is nice and hot it's time to get cooking.
Step 1 - Shuck all of your oysters. Discard the top half of the shell. Try to keep as much of the oyster brine inside the shell as possible. You may want to bring some ice to store the oysters in.
Step 2 - Add your butter and olive oil to the saucepan. Add garlic and allow to sweat for 30 seconds. Then add your chilli pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, and parsley. Stir thoroughly and then take off the heat.
Step 3 - Add a tablespoon of sauce to each oyster. Then place the oysters into the coals or on the grill. Leave to cook for around six minutes, until the oysters start to curl up at the edges.
Step 4 - Remove the oysters and enjoy.
How to cook oysters in the shell?
Oysters steamed in the shell. Prep time 0 mins // Cook time 10 mins // Total time 10 mins
- 3 glasses of water
- 1 glass of beer or wine (your choice)
- Lemon (optional)
- Tabasco (optional)
If you're looking to enjoy the oysters exclusively for their taste then this is a great repiece. It's simple, but if you have a really nice set of oysters then you don't need to do anything else to them.
These oysters may not be the prettiest, but they will taste gorgeous.
You don't need to shuck these oysters before cooking them. You will want to take the time to clean your oysters all well as you can.
Any of the dirt left on the outside of the oyster will affect the taste of the steam. Which will affect the taste of the oysters in turn.
Step 1 - Arrange your oysters in their steaming tray. They can overlap and do not need to be evenly spaced.
Step 2 - Prepare your steam. You will want to put around 3 cups of water at the bottom of your steam. Please adjust if you have a particularly large or small steamer. Then add a single cup of your beer or wine of choice. Then add a pinch of salt.
Step 3 - Bring the steamer to the boil and cover. The oysters will cook within 5-10 minutes. When the oysters are done their shells will pop open. Any oyster that does not open after 12 minutes should be discarded.
Step 4 - Once the oysters have opened, take your oyster knife to the hinge and shuck the oysters. Discard the top half of the shell and serve. You can serve the oysters plain or add lemon or Tabasco to taste.
How to cook oysters on the stove?
Smokey and crispy oysters that make a great side dish. Prep time 10 minutes // Cooking time 10-15 minutes // Total time 25 minutes
- 1 cup of flour
- 3 eggs
- Salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup of oil (your choice of oil)
- Smoked paprika (to taste)
- 1 lime
- 12 ounces of Oysters
If you're throwing a dinner party and you want to serve something a little special up as a side dish - this is the recipe for you.
These smokey and crispy oysters are so difficult to put down once you've started eating them. You really won't want to share these ones.
Step 1 - Pour your oil into a ban and heat it up until it is sizzling.
Step 2 - Clean and shuck all your oysters. Throw away the shells but keep the flesh in one bowl and oyster brine in another.
Step 3 - Pour your flour into a bowl and mix the salt and pepper in with it. Crack your eggs into a separate bowl. Dip each oyster into the egg mixture and then roll it in the flour mix.
Step 4 - Add 5 oysters at a time to the hot oil. Fry the oysters for around two minutes or until they turn golden brown. Repeat until all the oysters have been cooked.
Step 5 - Add the juice of a lime into the oyster brine, and a pinch of smoked paprika. Serve together with the oysters.
These oysters work well on their own or you can include them within other dishes. If you are serving them at a party then you may want to prepare a selection of dips to go with the oysters.
Some of our sauce suggestions include sweet and sour sauce, garlic mayonnaise, tartar sauce, and honey mustard.
How to bake oysters?
Oven baked garlic oysters. Prep time mins 10 // Cooking time 30 mins // Total time 40 mins
- 2 tbsp garlic fine chop
- 4 ounces butter
- 1 tsp Italian Parsley fine chop
- ¼ tsp granulated onion
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Romano cheese grated
- 16 fresh oysters
This is one of the classic oyster dishes that all good seafood restaurants will serve. That being said, there is no reason why you can make it just as good at home. If not even better!
The key to delicious oysters is to make sure all your ingredients are fresh. When preparing your oysters discard any who's shells have popped open.
This means the oysters have died and they are no longer safe to eat.
Step 1 - Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Step 2 - Finely chop your garlic then add to your saucepan with the butter. Leave to simmer for 7-10 minutes.
Step 2 - Add your parsley, granulated onions, and black pepper into the saucepan. Leave to simmer for 2 more minutes.
Step 3 - Pour the sauce into a small bowl and store in the fridge until the mixture becomes more solid, mixing frequently.
Step 4- Clean and shuck your oysters. Discard the top halves of the shells, but leave the oyster brine in with the flesh.
Step 5 - Add a teaspoon of the sauce into each oyster shell. Then cover each oyster with the cheese.
Step 6 - Place the oysters onto your baking tray. Be careful not to spill any of the brine while you are doing this (be extra careful when you are removing them from the oven later on too). Then bake the oysters for between 15-20 minutes in your preheated oven.
Step 7 - Serve with your sauces of choice and enjoy.
How to bake oysters in the shell?
Roast oysters. Prep time 10 mins // Cooking times 10 mins // Total time 20 mins
- 4 ounces of butter
- 2 shallots
- fresh parsley - finely chopped
- Grated cheese (Pecorino)
- Cayenne - to taste
- Paprika - to taste
If you want amazing tasting oysters that take less than 10 minutes to make then you're going to want to make a note of this recipe.
By baking the oysters inside their shells before adding the sauce you will intensify the natural flavors of the oysters.
If you are using West Coast oysters this method will make them sweeter. Doing this to East Coast oysters will make them saltier.
When shucking your oysters, after you have roasted them, you will have to be very careful not to burn yourself.
Step 1 - Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Step 2 - Clean your oysters. Make sure that all your oysters are fresh and alive. Discard any who's shells have popped open as these ones are dead and should not be cooked.
Step 3 - Equally spread your oysters across a baking tray. Place the oysters in the oven for 10 minutes. Discard any oysters that haven't opened during these 10 minutes - as they are not safe to eat.
Step 4 - While the oysters are roasting, prepare your sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy based frying pan. After 3 minutes add your parsley, cayenne, and paprika. Leave for a minute before grating on your cheese. When the cheese is fully melted, set the sauce aside.
Step 5 - Remove your oysters from the oven and shuck them. Try not to lose any of the oyster brine that is inside the shell. Discard the top half of the shell. Then pour your sauce over the flesh of the oysters. Serve hot.
How to bake oysters on the half shell?
Oysters Rockefeller. Prep time 10 mins // Cooking time 20 mins // Total 30 time mins
- 500 g rock salt
- 3 spring onions
- 1 stick of celery
- a few sprigs of fresh tarragon
- 1 small handful of breadcrumbs
- a few drops of Tabasco
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 large oysters
If you're looking for a classic oyster dish to cook for yourself then you have to try Oysters Rockefeller. Many chefs, including international bestseller Jamie Oliver, claim this one of the most popular seafood dishes on their menus.
This is a deeply savory dish with a little bit of a kick. It is quite rare to see tarragon used in a seafood dish - but here it really works.
The bread crumbs in this dish can be replaced with gluten free bread crumbs if needed.
If you want to serve this dish as a main dish then you will want to double all of the ingredients.
Step 1 - Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Step 2 - Clean and shuck your oysters. Discard the top half of the shell, while making sure to keep the oyster brine in with the flesh.
Step 3 - Cover your baking tray with all the salt, creating a bed for the oysters to be placed on top of.
Step 4 - Finely chop your spring onions and celery. Then put them into a food processor. Blend until they form a paste.
Step 5 - Mix the bread crumbs and tarragon leaves into the paste. Then add a generous teaspoon of the paste to each shell.
Step 6 - Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the top of the paste turns a golden brown.
Step 7 - Add an extra dash of Tabasco to each shell, as well as a pinch of salt.
How to cook fresh oysters in the oven?
Three Cheese Baked Oysters. Prep time 10 mins // Cooking time 10 mins // Total time 10 mins.
- Cream cheese -5 ounces
- Shredded white cheddar -⅔ cups
- Crumbled bacon - ½ cup
- Spinach - 1 cup
- Garlic - 1 clove, minced
- Crushed red pepper - ¼ tps
- Parmesan cheese - ⅓ cup
This is a new take on sophisticated oyster dishes. Yes, classics like oysters Rockefeller are delicious, but they've been around for years.
If you're looking to treat your taste buds to something new, or just want to surprise the guests at your next dinner party then this is the dish for you.
We have chosen to cream cheese, cheddar, and parmesan cheese in this recipe. But there is definitely space to experiment and replace the latter two kinds of cheese with something that suits your taste more.
We have also used blue cheese in this recipe - it was delicious.
If you don't want to mess around with fresh spinach then you can use a third of a cup of frozen spinach. Allow it to thaw, then drain it of any excess liquids before combining it with the other ingredients in the bowl.
Step 1 - Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Step 2 - Clean and shuck your oysters. Discard the top half of the oyster. Be careful not to lose any of the oyster brine.
Step 3 - In a frying pan, allow your spinach to wilt. Empty into a bowl, and add the cream cheese, the cooked bacon, the red pepper, and the minced garlic. Combine and mix well.
Step 4 - Add a spoonful of the mixture onto the top of each oyster. Then cover in parmesan.
Step 5 - Place your oysters on your baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the parmesan turns golden brown.
How to cook raw oysters?
Old Fashioned Oysters. Prep time 10 mins // Cooking time NA mins // Total time 10 minutes
- 4 lemons
- Tabasco sauce
- 12 oysters
Some things are classics for a reason.
This is the perfect recipe for two occasions. Firstly, this is you or one of your guests' first time trying oysters and you want to experience their authentic taste. Or secondly, you have some really nice, high quality oysters that you want to enjoy without anything else getting in the way.
This is the simplest recipe on this list. It only has three ingredients, but with the right set of oysters, it will be one of the best recipes on the list. Both the sweet West Coast oysters and the salty East Coast oysters will work well, as the lemon will complement both flavor sets.
The Tabasco is not necessary if you want a truly classic dish.
Step 1 - Clean and shuck your oysters. Discard the top half of the shell. Be careful not to lose any of the oyster brine while doing this.
Step 2 - Squeeze a ¼ of a lemon onto each oyster. Sprinkle with Tabasco sauce to taste.
Step 3 - Serve on ice and enjoy.
How to cook raw oysters out of the shell?
Pesto Fried Oysters. Prep time 15 minutes // Cooking time 8 minutes // Total time 24 minutes
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Oil (of your choice)
- 12 Oysters
Our final recipe is perfect for when you're looking for something a little bit different. This fresh dish is perfect from early spring all the way through to late summer. We prefer using green pesto for this dish, however, you could use red pesto instead.
This makes a great dish on its own, but you may want to serve it with something else. Pasta makes a perfect pairing for this dish, as does freshly baked bread.
If you prefer a firmer pesto that you can skip stage 2 and just add all your pesto ingredients straight into the food processor.
Step 1 - Clean and shuck your oysters. Discard both halves of the shell and drain away any oyster brine. Place your oysters in a colander and rinse under cold water.
Step 2 - Add the butter to your frying pan and allow it to melt. After 2 minutes add your basil and pine nuts. Allow to soften for 5 minutes.
Step 3 - Transfer everything from the pan into the good processor. Add the cheese, salt, and black pepper. Blitz into a paste.
Step 3 - Add a little oil to your pan and once it is sizzling add your oysters. Allow to cook for 2-4 minutes until they start to curl at the edges. Take off the heat.
Step 4 - Add the pesto to the still slightly warm pan. Mix together and serve on its own or with pasta.