An easy Oyster Stew Recipe that’s full of rich, wonderful seafood flavor. I’ve been enjoying this Christmas Eve stew tradition for as long as I can remember! 

stew with oysters in a white bowl

Oyster Stew is a Family Recipe Tradition

When I share with people about oyster stew being a Christmas Eve tradition for my family, I oftentimes receive questioning looks. Some wonder if I grew up in the south. Well…does South Dakota count?!

My mom’s Oyster Stew Recipe has been gracing our Christmas Eve gatherings (in South Dakota!) for as long as I can remember. It’s a Christmas Eve recipe tradition that Mom learned from her own mom.

But it wasn’t until just this year that I tried my own hand at it in the kitchen. I wish I had known sooner how quick and easy it is to make!

white bowl of oyster stew

I’ve always liked oyster stew. But I haven’t always liked the oysters. Just being totally honest here. 

When I was young, I very carefully ladled the broth into my bowl, leaving the oysters behind. I’ve always found the broth irresistible.

But as the years have ticked by, I’ve grown to seek out the oysters more and more in the stew. And I can now say that I completely enjoy raw oysters and grilled oysters, too. If I’m at a restaurant that’s known for their seafood, or if I’m near the ocean, you can bet I’m ordering some fresh, briny oysters!

If you are someone who is not a big fan of oysters, yet you still like other shellfish, I beg you to give oyster stew a try. I think you’ll be surprised at the rich, wonderful flavor. And if it takes you a few tries to find yourself actually seeking out the oysters, I completely understand. Just enjoy that incredible broth. 

Oyster Stew in a bowl

Recipe Ingredients

Besides the oysters in this recipe, all the ingredients are common ones.

  • fresh raw oysters, with their juice – or substitute fresh shucked oysters packed in water, or canned oysters
  • butter – this adds a warm, rich flavor to the milk-based broth
  • fresh garlic
  • flour
  • kosher salt
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • hot pepper sauce (We like Frank’s Redhot for this stew.)
  • whole milk
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • minced fresh parsley, optional

How to Make Oyster Stew

I don’t know why I used to think that making oyster stew was a complicated process. Because the recipe is SO EASY!!

  1. Prep oysters: Drain oysters and reserve their liquid. If the reserved liquid is particularly gritty, strain it through a double layer of cheese cloth.
  2. Start the broth: In a large saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over the top and whisk to incorporate. (I like to use this flat whisk.) Then whisk in salt, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Cook for 1 minute, whisking gently all the while.
  3. Finish the broth: Whisk in strained oyster juice. And then slowly add milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. Cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until mixture is steaming and bubbles just start to appear around the edge of the saucepan. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Turn heat down just a bit to low, and let cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add oysters: Add the oysters and cook for 2 more minutes, or until oysters start to curl. Taste test and add a bit more salt if you like. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and fresh chopped parsley if you like.
Oyster Stew with crackers and a glass of wine

A Few Oyster Stew FAQ’s and Tips

Can I use canned oysters? Well, you surely can. But just like most everything else in this world, the stew will only be as good as the ingredients you put into it. I highly recommend fresh shucked oysters for this stew. I’ve found that a few of our local grocery stores will carry fresh shucked oysters during the holidays. This would be my preference >>> fresh shucked…by somebody else! The next best option would be fresh shucked oysters (not smoked) that are packed in water. And lastly, it’s just fine to used canned oysters if that’s all you can find. Just know that the texture and flavor just don’t compare to a fresh oyster!

How do you shuck oysters at home? So the previous question always leads to this question. And I’m sad to say that I am definitely not a great oyster shucker! After spending some time at my sister’s home in Florida last year, and having access to a huge variety of fresh seafood, Blake became pretty good at shucking oysters. But even when you know how to do it, it’s still not a fun gig. Especially if you’re needing a larger quantity. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to shuck oysters.

Adjust flavor to your liking. I like an oyster stew with a touch of a spicy kick. That’s why you’ll find our favorite hot pepper sauce in the ingredients list. Just know that this is completely negotiable. Feel free to eliminate the heat entirely or really amp it up!

Like this oyster stew recipe? Save it to Pinterest!

pinterest image of Oyster Stew with a spoon in a bowl

A few more of my favorite seafood recipes:

stew with oysters

Oyster Stew Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This easy recipe is full of rich, wonderful seafood flavor. A family tradition, I've been enjoying this stew each Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember! 

Ingredients

  • 1 pt. fresh raw oysters, with their juice
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • a few dashes hot pepper sauce (We like Frank's Redhot)
  • 1 qt. whole milk
  • freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • minced fresh parsley, optional

Instructions

  1. Drain oysters and reserve their liquid. If the reserved liquid is particularly gritty, strain it through a double layer of cheese cloth.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over the top and whisk to incorporate. (I like to use this flat whisk.) Then whisk in salt, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Cook for 1 minute, whisking gently all the while.
  3. Whisk in reserved oyster juice. And then slowly add milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. Cook over low to medium-low heat, stirring regularly, until mixture is steaming and bubbles just start to appear around the edge of the saucepan. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Turn heat down just a bit to low, and let cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add oysters and cook for 2 more minutes, or until oysters start to curl. Taste test and add a bit more salt if you like. Black pepper and fresh chopped parsley are optional.

I like to eat oyster stew with oyster crackers. Saltines would also work.

Notes

Note: Fresh shucked oysters are always the preferred choice for oyster stew. Otherwise look for shucked oysters (not smoked) packed in water. The third best choice would be canned or jarred oysters - just know that their texture is pretty compromised.

Recipe altered just a bit from my mom's recipe box.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 198Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 677mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.

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stew with oysters