Rich, creamy, and full of wonderful seafood flavor, this Oyster Stew recipe is easy to make and comes together quickly. It’s perfect for a special holiday dinner but simple enough to whip up anytime!
The Best Oyster Stew Recipe
My mom’s Oyster Stew recipe has been gracing our Christmas Eve gatherings for as long as I can remember. It’s a tradition that Mom has held onto, one passed down from her own mom.
This homemade stew is rich and creamy, and full of wonderful seafood flavor – definitely deserving of more than a Christmas Eve appearance!
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy this stew recipe is to make. Grab some oysters and a few other common ingredients, and you’ll soon be enjoying a steaming bowl of seafood goodness!
When people learn that oyster stew is part of my Christmas Eve tradition, they often ask me if grew up in the south. Well…does South Dakota count?!
I don’t know exactly how this became a tradition for my family, but I’m grateful that my grandma and mom have served it each year.
Growing up, my favorite part of this stew was the rich and creamy broth. I wasn’t a fan of oysters as a child and would carefully ladle the broth into my bowl, leaving the oysters behind.
But as the years ticked by, I grew to seek out the oysters in the stew. Especially when they’ve been fresh 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!
There are just 10 ingredients in this homemade oyster stew – and besides the oysters, all of them are common ingredients.
- Fresh raw oysters, with their juice – You can also substitute fresh shucked oysters packed in water or canned oysters. (I highly recommend fresh over canned!)
- Butter – Butter adds a warm, rich flavor to the milk-based broth.
- Fresh garlic
- Kosher salt
- Worcestershire sauce – Adds a savory flavor to the broth.
- Hot pepper sauce – We like Frank’s Redhot for this stew.
- Whole milk – Whole milk provides the light creaminess to the broth. You can probably use 2% but I wouldn’t recommend using skim milk. And for an even richer stew, you could substitute half of the whole milk for half & half.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Minced fresh parsley – An optional garnish for a touch of fresh flavor.
How to Make Oyster Stew
Before I made this for the first time, I assumed it was a complicated process. But the truth is, this recipe is super easy to make!
- Prep oysters: Drain oysters and reserve their liquid. If the reserved liquid is particularly gritty, strain it through a double layer of cheese cloth.
- Start the broth: In a large saucepan, 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.
- Finish the broth: Whisk in salt, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Cook for 1 minute, whisking gently all the while. Add strained oyster juice, followed by the milk. Cook over low to medium-low heat until mixture is steaming. Then turn heat down to low and let cook for 10 minutes.
- Add oysters: Add the oysters and cook for 2 more minutes, or until oysters start to curl. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and fresh chopped parsley if you like.
A Few Oyster Stew FAQ’s and Tips
There are a few things I’ve learned over the years, to make this stew as good as possible:
- 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. But shucking oysters can be downright difficult if you’ve never done it before. A few of our local grocery stores carry fresh shucked oysters during the holidays, so that is always my top choice! The next best option would be fresh shucked oysters (not smoked) that are packed in water – look for these from online sellers and at your local grocery store seafood counters during the holiday season. And lastly, it’s just fine to used canned oysters if that’s all you can find. Just know that the texture and flavor of canned oysters absolutely do NOT compare to fresh oysters!
- How do you shuck oysters at home? So the previous question always leads to this question. After staying with my sister’s family in Florida a few years ago, 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, if you want to try your hand at it!
- 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 – this is an ingredient that Blake and I added, not part of the original recipe. Just know that this is completely negotiable. Feel free to eliminate the heat entirely or really amp it up!
Oyster stew is typically served with oyster crackers. Seems only natural, right?! But saltine crackers also work just fine. For a heartier option, you can also serve this stew with biscuits or some crusty bread.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- How to store leftovers. Leftover oyster stew will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, in an airtight container.
- How to reheat leftovers. Gently reheat leftover stew on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Can I freeze oyster stew? Yes, you can freeze this oyster stew. Allow it to cool completely then transfer to freezer containers for up to 2 months.
A few more of my favorite seafood recipes:
- Shrimp Dip is an appetizer favorite. We also serve this every Christmas Eve!
- Grilled Margarita Shrimp. One of my favorite meals. EVER.
- Seared Scallops. So easy to make at home, with just a few ingredients!
- Layered Creamy Chili Shrimp Dip. My aunt’s recipe. She always serves this at Christmastime.
- Bacon Wrapped Scallops. Topped with a delicious garlic butter, these scallops are SO GOOD!
- Crab Bisque. Another soup recipe for you. So good!
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Rich, creamy, and full of wonderful seafood flavor, Oyster Stew is easy to make and comes together quickly. It's perfect for a special holiday dinner (it's our Christmas Eve tradition!) but simple enough to whip up anytime.
- 1 pint fresh raw oysters, with their juice
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- a few dashes hot pepper sauce (We like Frank's Redhot)
- 1 quart whole milk
- freshly ground black pepper, optional
- minced fresh parsley, optional
- Drain oysters and reserve their liquid. If the reserved liquid is particularly gritty, strain it through a double layer of cheese cloth.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 flavor and texture is not nearly as good as fresh oysters.
From Mom's recipe box, originally from her mom.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 478mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 20g
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.
This post was first published in 2018, and then updated in 2021.
Very good recipe and easy to follow
This is so wonderful to see. I might have to figure out how to make it when no one is around though. You see, my wife, who you know (Angelaskitchen), thinks I’m some sick weirdo when I tell her I miss Oyster Stew for a Christmas Eve tradition. This tradition was via my stepdad in southern Mn. Do you come from an Irish Catholic family? Here’s why I ask. https://tinyurl.com/2o84evab It’s an interesting history of why it became a tradition for some in the midwest, including Lincoln in Springfield.
Now, if you ever make an extra quart to sell! ;-)
Hi Tim – and hi to Angela!! I come from a mostly Catholic family, on both sides. Not really Irish, tho.
I want to make this recipe today I would like to know how many oysters put in the stew per plate served
Great recipe, I added finely diced onions at the beginning with the garlic….used 2% milk and it was creamy enough! Thank you
Can you add additional milk and butter to this to make more soup after the fact?
After serving, it seems 4qts really isn’t enough
Hi Danni – this is not a large recipe. I’d just double, triple, etc. the recipe from the start.
Yes Oyster Soup is a huge family tradition. I’m from Ontario, Canada but earliest ancestors came from Scotland and the UK. We only ate oyster soup at Christmas. Great Grandmother Haywood’s recipe: 1 qt. of oysters in liquid; 2 qt. whole milk 1/4 pound butter 2 cups rolled saltine crackers and salt and pepper to taste. Strain oyster liquid and place in large kettle. Add oysters and simmer GENTLY until edges curl. Heat milk in another kettle almost to boiling point. Add the hot milk to the warmed oysters. Stir in butter, cracker crumbs, salt and pepper. Often better the second day!!!!