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Oysters on the Half-Shell

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Oysters on the half-shell… there’s really nothing quite like it! Freshly shucked and flavored with a squeeze of lemon, this is an easy appetizer for any gathering. When it comes down to it, oysters on the half-shell are simply a delicious and refreshing treat on a warm day.

While oysters on the half shell are often viewed as more of a “restaurant dish,” they’re actually quite easy to prepare and serve at home (and will save you some $$ too!).

Plate of of oysters on the half shell in a bed of crushed ice, mint and lemon wedges

If you like this recipe you will like our firecracker shrimp and our mussels in garlic wine sauce.

Here in Washington state, fresh oysters are plentiful year-round and we’re all about making the most of the abundance of delicious seafood. Even if you don’t live in an area with locally-caught seafood, you will most likely be able to find oysters at your grocery store’s seafood counter.

With the right tools and know-how, fresh oysters on the half-shell are a special treat you can easily incorporate into any dining experience, whether you’re serving a fancy meal or a casual dinner outdoors.

Ingredient list

When it comes to ingredient lists, this one might just be the easiest one we’ve put together!

For this fresh oyster recipe, you will need:

  • fresh oysters
  • crushed ice
  • lemon wedges
  • mint sprigs for garnish

How do you Open Fresh Oysters?

Aww shucks!  It’s not all that difficult, you just need the right tools and a little practice. 😉 An oyster knife is the easiest kind of knife to open oysters with. They’re not too pricey and will help tremendously!

Our oysters on the half-shell recipe will walk you through how to open fresh oysters and arrange them on a pretty serving tray for a practical yet lovely presentation.

To open the oysters:

  1. With the oyster in your hand, locate the oyster hinge (on the narrow end). This is where you will open it.
  2. Wrap a kitchen towel over the rest of the oyster, leaving the hinge area uncovered.
  3. Hold the oyster firmly with the towel and carefully insert the oyster knife in a spot near the hinge.
  4. Gently begin pushing the knife in and turning it lightly back and forth.
  5. Keep working the knife until the shells starts to give way and open (some shell may flake or crumble but that’s okay, just brush them aside so they don’t get inside the oyster).
  6. When the oyster opens, run the knife along the inside of the top of the shell to loosen the oyster from the top half. Discard the top shell.
  7. Loosen the oyster from the bottom shell and carefully place the oyster on the platter of ice.
Fresh Oyster and oyster shucking knife

Our favorite oyster recipe

Once you’ve opened the first oystered, the rest will be a breeze! Oysters on the half-shell are this easy to prepare:

  1. Open all of the fresh oysters. Add each oyster to the platter of ice, until all of the oysters are shucked. Be careful to keep each oyster stable so the oyster juice doesn’t spill out.
  2. Add the lemon wedges to the platter of oysters.
  3. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately, they should be served chilled and you don’t want that ice to melt! Enjoy!

Tip: you can also serve the raw oysters on a mound of kosher salt instead of crushed ice.

Oysters on appetizer plate, one oyster on fork, lemon wedge in background

To us, fresh oysters are the best when served simply– which is why this oyster recipe only calls for lemon. It adds just the right amount of fresh, tart flavor that compliments the salty, sweet and briny taste of the oysters.

However, if you would like a few other topping suggestions, raw oysters are also delicious served with:

When is oyster season?

The great thing about raw oysters is they can be enjoyed year-round! We often think of oysters on the half-shell as a summertime starter, but did you know that wild oyster “season” is generally best from September to April, a tradition of sorts that states oysters should only be consumed in months with an “r”?

While they are available during the summer, the meat of wild oysters will be a bit on the thinner side, a little more flimsy due to their reproductive cycle. The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily rule out oysters on the half-shell in the warmer months– here’s a great article from The Kitchn that explains why.

2 oysters on appetizer plate with fork, lemon wedge and mint. Bread, butter curls and glass of wine in background

Raw oysters on the half-shell make an appetizer that is elegant, sophisticated, and yet casual all in one. They’re a delightful treat we hope you love as much as we do!

SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:

  • Vegetable Chowder with Seared Scallops: This chowder is packed with an array of fresh veggies and colors, and finished off with tender, meaty scallops. It’s a hearty soup that is truly gourmet!
  • Steak and Lobster Sandwich on Garlic Bread: Who doesn’t love Surf-and-Turf? We take it up a notch with this steak and lobster sammy, wrapped in a toasted, soft garlic bread and served with a dreamy hollandaise sauce.
  • Garlic Butter Sauce: There’s a good chance that any seafood situation will be extra delicious with this homemade garlic butter sauce. The right butter-to-garlic ratio makes this savory sauce so rich and decadent!

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Plate of of oysters on the half shell in a bed of crushed ice, mint and lemon wedges

Oysters on the Half-Shell

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Freshly shucked oysters on the half-shell with lemon wedges.  The perfect cool appetizer on a warm summer day.

Ingredients

  • 12 fresh oysters
  • Crushed ice
  • Lemon wedges
  • Mint sprigs for garnis

Instructions

  1. Choose a large pretty platter and spread a thick layer of crushed ice over the bottom.  Place in the refrigerator.  Cut 3 lemons into wedges and set aside.
  2. Place an oyster, flat side on top, cupped side down, on a firm stable surface.
  3. Locate the oyster hinge at the narrow end.  This is where you will open the oyster.
  4. Wrap a kitchen towel over the rest of the oyster, leaving the hinge area uncovered.  Hold the oyster firmly with the towel. 
  5. Carefully, insert the oyster knife in an area near the hinge.  Gently begin pushing the knife in and turning it lightly back and forth.  Keep working the knife until the shell begins to open.  Don’t worry if the shell crumbles and flakes in the process, that is ok. Brush away any shell flakes so they do not get inside the oyster. 
  6. Once the oyster is open and the knife is inside the shell, run the knife along the inside of the top of the shell to loosen the oyster from the top of the shell.  Remove and discard the top shell.
  7. Keep the oyster stable and try not to let the oyster juice spill.  Run the oyster knife under the oyster to loosen it from the shell.  Place the oyster on the platter of ice.
  8. Continue shucking the oysters and adding to the patter of ice until all the oysters are shucked.  
  9. Add the lemon wedges to the platter of oysters and garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve as soon as possible. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Alternatively, you can use a mound of Kosher salt on the platter instead of the ice.
  • Horseradish, minced shallots and/or cocktail sauce can be served with the oysters.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 160mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 7th of April 2021

One of the easiest -- and best! -- dishes going. Love oysters, and it's been way too long since I've had any. Gotta visit my fish monger soon! So nice -- thanks.

Pat Nyswonger

Wednesday 7th of April 2021

Hi, John....I totally agree with you! Once I get started on these I can't get enough and can make an entire meal of them, lol

angiesrecipes

Monday 5th of April 2021

Now you need some vodka :-)) I love oysters and these look so GOOD!! angiesrecipes http://angiesrecipes.blogspot.com

Dahn Boquist

Monday 5th of April 2021

Thanks Angie

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