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Oyster Stew

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!

Oyster stew in a white bowl with a silver spoon

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!

Easy oster stew in a white bowl with oyster crackers to the side

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!

Overhead view of oyster stew ingredients
Fresh oysters in their shells

Recipe Ingredients

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
  • Flour
  • 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 plate of fresh oysters in their shells

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!
A white bowl of oyster stew

Serving Suggestions

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.

Overhead view oyster stew in a whitebowl

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:

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Overhead view of oyster stew in a white bowl

Oyster Stew

Yield: 6 servings
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes
total time: 35 minutes
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.
4.4 Stars (91 Reviews)


  • 1 pint fresh raw oysters with their juice
  • ¼ 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:

Serving: 1 Calories: 324kcal Carbohydrates: 23g Protein: 20g Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 9g Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 112mg Sodium: 478mg Sugar: 13g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!
Overhead view of oyster stew in a white bowl

This post was first published in 2018, and then updated in 2021.

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62 comments on “Oyster Stew”

  1. I remember when I was very young visiting grandma and grandpa on the farm in PA. She made this soup and I ate it very carefully hoping to find a pearl Such fond memories!

  2. Maybe it was a Scottish tradition, as it was a tradition in our family as well, growing up near the Great Lakes in western New York.  
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. I enjoyed oyster soup (as we called it where I’m from in North Carolina) as a kid. My mother made it with the small select oysters from the seafood section of our local grocery store, milk, butter, salt and pepper only. I loved the broth but no oysters for me; I added ketchup to my milk broth and sprinkled oyster crackers in it. Delicious. Haven’t had it in years. Might have to go by the market for those expensive little gems. I didn’t start to enjoy oysters until I became an adult. Now I love them any way you fix them, even raw. Thanks for the good memories of a great dish I’d forgotten about.

  4. Michael McDonald

    5 stars
    I, too, grew up with Oyster Stew. I don’t remember the garlic and spices but think that’s a great addition. The History Channel has a nice article about the history of the stew. I suspect the Irish side of my family passed it down from the mid 1800s. https://www.history.com/news/oyster-stew-on-christmas-eve-an-american-tradition

  5. My mother-in-law’s side of the family is Norwegian, and she grew up in Wisconsin where they served oyster stew every Christmas eve. She married a Hispanic gentleman, so when I met my husband, who calls himself a Mexiweeg, their Christmas eve tradition had become oyster stew and tacos

  6. 1 star
    This isn’t traditional oyster stew. This is oyster soup. Traditional stew doesn’t have a rue or added sauces.  As a German, who also resides in South Dakota, this bothers me. It’s like people calling beef tips chislic. No one polishes a turd and calls it a diamond…..this is oyster soup. 

  7. Every Christmas Eve in NW Iowa we had oyster stew, chili soup, little sandwiches, and a relish tray at my grandparents’ farmhouse. I have always loved it… my grandpa, my dad, and myself. So good! My mom doesn’t (and my grandma didn’t) make it with the onion, flour, and hot sauce, but it sounds fantastic! I’m going to try your recipe tomorrow night (Christmas Eve 2020). Thank you!

    1. I’m From southwest Iowa I grew up along the southwest side of Iowa and our Christmas eves were the same but my family also served a couple of jello-type salads and pies. I really do miss those times with my grandparents and great aunts and uncle and a whole slew of cousins. We never used hot sauce or flour or onions but sometimes we used cream and milk to make it a little richer. I’m going to have to try it with the flour and onions and hot sauce, way too.

  8. My parents were from South Dakota and we had oyster stew like this every Christmas Eve! Sometimes New Years Eve too. I also just ate broth and crackers as a kid.  I decided that I need to make it this year and was delighted to find your recipe. 

  9. I grew up in Minnesota and your recipe is so similar to the one my mom made every Christmas Eve. It doesn’t feel like Christmas without it. My mom’s family has deep German roots so I have always wondered if oyster stew was a German Christmas tradition.

  10. I made this last night with the rest of the big jar of oysters I got from Costco to put in our Thanksgiving stuffing. I was looking for a use for them and came across your recipe. It was sooooooo good. My husband and I loved it, My kids were a harder sell but they liked the broth. I told them the story about you just eating the broth when you were younger and that encouraged them. Seriously delicious. I didn’t have whole milk so I used 2% and a bit of half and half and it turned out great!

    1. Hi Kari – I’m so glad you liked this recipe. And I LOVE how you got your kids to eat the broth!! Hoping they eventually come around, just like I did. :)

  11. Well I made the stew . I used a little less milk 31/2 cups I seasoned it more I doubled the Worcester sauce and the franks hots sauce . I used a small onion and some parsley . And my oysters were big the container said x small . So I used scissors and cut the oysters smaller but I loved your recipes

  12. Is 2 t of flour tablespoons or teaspoons also the oysters I bought said canal bout they were big cag I cut them smaller I flowed your recipe . I used 2 tablespoons of flour and I added a small onion and some parsley I hope it’s good

  13. We make this too all the time and I’m from Minnesota…I order my Oysters in so they are really fresh and I also throw in a little bit of onions and mushrooms…started throwing in the mushrooms cause people like mushrooms and think they are getting those instead if oysters…:a trick but it works…lol…thanks for sharing your recipe – it’s a lot like mine!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours!