Oysters: Main Image

Preparation, Uses, & Tips

Inspect oysters to make sure they are tightly closed. To clean, rub the shells with a stiff brush under cold running water.

To shuck, hold the oyster cup flat side up with a glove or several paper towels. Insert an oyster knife or can opener (never a sharp knife), into the small opening near the hinge. Twist to open. Once the hinge gives, slide the knife along the top shell to sever the muscle. Take off the top shell and pick out any grit or pieces of broken shell. If the oyster is very gritty, hold the oyster and bottom shell under running water. Serve raw on crushed ice.


Place live oysters flat-side-up directly on the grill, 6 inches (about 15 cm) above the coals. Oysters are done when the shells pop open, in about three minutes.

Pan frying

Heat frying pan, then add butter or oil. Dredge shucked oysters in flour or cornmeal with herbs and spices, if desired. Place oysters in the pan and sauté until brown, two to three minutes.

Deep frying

Pour oil into a wok or deep fryer; it should be at least 1 1/2 inches (about 3.8cm) deep, and the cooker should be less than half full of oil. Heat oil to 375°F (190°C), using a thermometer to monitor temperature. Dip oysters in batter, drain, then slip them into hot oil. Cook until brown, two to three minutes.


Place 1/4-inch (0.635cm) water or beer (seasoning optional) in the bottom of a large pan. Add scrubbed live oysters, flat side up. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until shells open (six to eight minutes). Throw away oysters that don’t open. Serve oysters in bowls with broth.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.