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Smoked oysters may seem an intimidating ingredient, but they’re actually incredibly versatile. For the best way to make them shine, eat smoked oysters on crackers with a dash of hot sauce. The bold flavor of the oyster will power through, giving you an elegant snack food.
Anything you might do with regular oysters can be done with smoked oysters. They’re particularly good in pasta, where the balance of fish and meat flavor works well.
Try them with angel hair noodles, garlic, Parmesan, and some lemon juice. This is a fresh feeling dish that puts the oysters at the center. Fry smoked oysters alongside pancetta or bacon, and mix with garlic and cherry tomatoes to form a basic sauce for spaghetti.
Otherwise, mix smoked oysters into stews and casseroles. This is particularly good if you’re trying them for the first time and want to get a sense of the flavor.
Smoked oyster works with crab meat and shrimp, as well as heavier meats. Cook them into a gumbo, where the smoked flavor will add an extra richness.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Smoked oysters can be eaten on pizzas or in salads, even in omelettes.
How to smoke oysters
There are a few different methods used to smoke oysters, but anyone with a smoker should be able to find a way to suit them.
Smoked oysters require very little time on the smoker, but they do take a while to prepare. If it’s your first time shucking oysters, you should be aware that this can take some effort.
Once you have your oysters, the very first step is to wash the shell thoroughly. Once this is done, you may want to shuck them.
Shucking an oyster requires using a very sharp knife to pry the shell open, by placing the blade in between the shell and rolling it. When the shell is open, remove the oyster. Alternatively, you can steam the shell open.
Once you have your oysters out of the shell, they can either be blanched or brined. Blanching is quicker, but results in a less complex flavor. Brining takes longer, but you end up with an incredibly tasty oyster.
The smoking is a relatively quick process, compared to other foods. Place the oysters back into their shells alongside some brine, or place the meat directly onto a baking tray. Fire up your smoker, and cook the oysters for 30 minutes on a high heat, or up to 2 hours on a lower heat.
Use a mild flavored wood to avoid overpowering the oyster flavor. Keep a close eye on them as they cook, to be sure they don’t dry up and are absorbing flavor.
How long to smoke oyster in the shell?
When smoking oysters on a half shell, anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours is a good time, depending on temperature.
If you’re cooking on a low temperature, around 145F, then they can be left to smoke for up to 2 hours.
As the temperature is lower, the oysters won’t dry out quickly, and it will take longer for the smoke flavor to infuse. The advantage to this is a more even flavoring, as the smoke will have had longer to work.
For a higher temperature, 200F to 225F, the oysters will only need to smoke for 45 minutes to an hour. Less, if the temperature stays consistently high. This is a much quicker option.
When cooking oysters on the shell, always add some brine mixture alongside. This can be made simply from a combination of water, dry white wine, salt, and sugar. Have a look around to find other brine recipes that will give a different flavoring.
Alternatively, clean the shell and place the whole oyster onto a smoker. Over a high heat, smoke the oysters until the shell pops open. Once opened, leave them for an extra 10 to 20 minutes to cook through.
How to smoke oysters in electric smoker?
Smoking oysters in an electric smoker is easy and quick to do. This will result in a more robust flavor than canned smoked oysters, without the hassle of a traditional smoker.
As oysters are delicate, it’s important to monitor the temperature when smoking them. Otherwise, the smoke flavor can become overwhelming, and the oyster dries out. This is easier when using an electric smoker.
Oysters can be prepared very simply for use in an electric smoker. Begin by washing the shell thoroughly, and then shuck the oysters.
If you’re new to oysters, this will probably be the longest part of the process. When shucking, save both the oyster and the liquor, and place them in a bowl together. Put the shell to one side.
Once all the oysters have been shucked, add a generous helping of salt to the bowl alongside the liquor. Leave the oysters to brine for at least 20 minutes.
When the oysters are marinated, return them to the half shell with a spoonful of the brining liquid. Place the shells onto the electric smoker, and smoke for 90 minutes at a heat of 225F.
How to smoke oysters on a grill?
If you’re using your grill as a smoker, then the important thing is to pay close attention. Grills aren’t designed for smoking in the same way a smoker is, so the heat source isn’t as consistent.
With a grill, you may find you need to add charcoal hourly, to keep up a steady heat. For oysters, this can be tricky. Oysters are a delicate meat, and they can easily become overpowered by the smoke flavors when not done correctly.
If smoking oysters on a grill, smoke them in the half shell with some marinade or brine. This gives an incredibly flavorful finished product, and is easier to manage on a grill.
Place the oysters away from the direct heat source, or they’ll cook too quickly without absorbing the smoke. You should aim for a heat of around 225F. Smoke them for around 30 to 40 minutes. They should be firm when they’ve finished smoking.
How to smoke shucked oysters?
When smoking shucked oysters, they need to be placed on a wire rack or a sauté pan. The most important thing is to keep them from sticking, or you may find you lose half your meat.
If using a pan choose one with holes to allow the smoke to infuse. Spray it well with cooking spray. This should add to the cooking process, without affecting flavor.
For the best smoke, try and avoid having the oysters overlap. When the oysters overlap, they block the movement of the smoke. It will infuse better if there’s air to travel through.
Alternatively, use a wire rack, or stack several wire racks for a stable base. The wire should have gaps large enough to let smoke through, but small enough to hold the oyster. Spray these liberally with cooking oil.
If you’ve retained the shell from shucked oysters, this can be used for smoking. The shell acts as a natural baking sheet, holding the oyster while allowing the smoke to infuse.
Place each oyster in a clean half shell alongside some brine. These should be placed on a wire rack as well, for better maneuverability.
What flavor to smoke oysters?
Oysters should be smoked using a delicate wood that won’t overpower the natural flavor of the oyster. Smoking should only add to the taste, rather than replace it altogether.
Fruit woods are best because they offer a mild to medium flavor, and the slight sweetness complements seafood flavoring.
Peach, apple, and cherry are all good choices. Apple has the most intense flavor, but it still won’t overwhelm the oyster. Peach is woodsy, which many people find adds another richness to oyster.
Other choices include hardwoods such as oak, alder, beech, and cedar. Again, these are milder woods. Oak is stronger without the harsh taste of some smokes. Beech is a great choice for beginners, as it works with anything and is hard to get wrong.
Woods to avoid are hickory and mesquite. These are very strong woods, and work best with heavy red meats.
For something delicate like oyster, they will quickly spoil the flavor. Remember that oysters are only small, so the deep flavor of these hardwoods dominate after even a short time smoking. Serve smoked oysters with a squeeze of lemon, or a dash of hot sauce.