Oyster Stew

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Oysters, along with clams and lobsters, have been harvested and relished by Native Americans along the Atlantic coast from very early times. When the English colonists arrived on the shores of North America, they recognized the richness of the sea in the abundance of the excellent, large oysters. It is thought that the Native Americans taught the settlers how to tong or secure the bivalves with leather, and to dry them for winter food. Oysters were the most popular seafood along the Eastern seaboard during the nineteenth century, with oyster saloons serving raw and roasted oysters. Timeworn cookbooks have recipes for oyster stew, oyster soup, oyster pie, and oyster stuffing. For oyster lovers like me, this stew is irresistible.

NotesDo Ahead:

Although it can be gently reheated successfully, oyster stew is best when made right before serving. Have everything measured and ready to cook—the soup is super simple to put together.


Three primary species of oysters are sold in the United States, whether naturally grown or cultivated in oyster beds: Pacific, or Japanese, oysters, found on the Pacific seaboard; eastern, or Atlantic, oysters, from the Atlantic seaboard; and the small and delicious Olympia from Washington’s Paget Sound. Fresh oysters are available year-round, debunking the myth that you should eat oysters only during months spelled with an r. Quick processing and advanced refrigeration in trucking and storage keep the oysters fresh even during hot weather. However, experts think the best time to eat oysters raw is in the fall and winter because they spawn during the summer and the meat tends to he softer. I use fresh, shucked oysters that I buy from my fishmonger; you can also find them at high-quality and gourmet markets. The best are sold in clear, screw-top jars or in plastic pint and quart tubs so you can see that the oysters are tightly packed and plump, and have good color, and that the oyster liquor is clear, not cloudy. Ask to smell the oysters if you question their freshness. They should smell sweet and briny fresh, not fishy at all.




Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Recipe Courseappetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free



  • 1 pint (about 30) extra-small shucked oysters in their liquor (see Notes)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Drain the oysters through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl to catch the oyster liquor, set the oysters aside. Reserve the liquor.

  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and celery salt. Add the oysters and bring to a simmer. Cook just until the edges of the oysters curl. Add the oyster liquor to the pan and return to a simmer. Add the milk, cream, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, but do not let the soup boll. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Ladle the soup into a warmed tureen or individual bowls, garnish with the parsley, and serve hot


Free recipes, giveaways, exclusive partner offers, and more straight to your inbox!


I have not made this yet so I cannot rate it.

Include a Photo Include a Photo

Click the button above or drag and drop images onto the button. You can upload two images.

Cancel Reply to Comment

Thanks for your comment. Don't forget to share!


Report Inappropriate Comment

Are you sure you would like to report this comment? It will be flagged for our moderators to take action.

Thank you for taking the time to improve the content on our site.

Sign In to Your Account

Close Window
Sign In with one of your Social Accounts
Facebook Twitter
Sign In using Email and Password