Best Oyster Stew Recipe

I first tasted this wonderful classic stew when I was a teenager (that was a while ago), and I have been a fan ever since.

Oyster Stew in a bowl with slices of homemade bread on the side

The secret to the rich buttery warm flavor is coddling the oysters in the milky brew. This heirloom recipe is easy to make and is the best Oyster Stew recipe that you can find.  Many families enjoy serving this stew as part of their Christmas Eve tradition to feature seafood dishes.

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Check out our Seafood and Fish recipe index page.

Oyster Stew Recipe:
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Best Oyster Stew Recipe
  • 2 pints oysters, raw shucked with their liquor, approx. 32 ounces small to medium-sized oysters*
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk, a little cream may be added to make it richer
  • 1 or 2 dashes Tabasco
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parsley, minced, sliced chives, or sliced green onions (your choice)
  • Butter
  1. The most important factors in preparing Oyster Stew;  not boil the milk and do not overcook the oysters.  Be careful to avoid overcooking oysters, which causes them to become tough.

  2. Drain the oysters, reserving their liquor.  I like to strain the oyster liquor with a fine strainer to remove any sand.

  3. In a large pan over medium heat, melt butter.  Add oysters and simmer very gently for about 2 to 4 minutes or until the edges of the oysters curl.

  4. While the oysters are simmering, in a separate saucepan over low heat, slowly heat the milk, cream, and the strained oyster liquor (do not boil).

  5. When the oysters are cooked, slowly add the hot milk mixture to the oysters, stirring gently.  Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.

  6. Serve in warm soup bowls and garnish each bowl with parsley, chives, or green onions and a generous pat of butter.

Recipe Notes

* The amount of oysters used may be varied according to your taste.  Also learn How To Shuck Oysters if using fresh oysters.

Watch a video on how to make the Best Oyster Stew

Oyster Stew

Comments and Reviews

25 Responses to “Best Oyster Stew Recipe”

  1. Charlie Foley

    I make this once a year, for our Mason’s Lodge Past Masters night. I always have to make a big kettle, with lots of oysters and butter. I’ve found that I prefer to have the broth thicker so I use cream and whole milk. The extra butterfat keeps the broth from separating so easily and getting grainy. In the 15 years, that I’ve been doing this, we’ve never had any left overseas.

    • Darlene Magdaluyo

      Would love to serve this at our Past Master’s night-how much did it make?

      • Linda Stradley

        Per the recipe, appx. 6 servings, depending on your bowl size.

  2. Ashley Ackerman


  3. Donald Heckman

    Our stew recipe is similar with no chives, onions, potatoes or celery.

    My Kroger now carries live oysters in shell. Since I prefer oyster, something each week, I know when they are due for freezing (for emergency only). I recently learned to use a double broiler to prevent boiling.

  4. Joe T Payne

    This the exact way my father has been making oyster stew for me (less the chives and parsley) for over 45 years. He passed away suddenly 5 years ago and now this wonderful is a beautiful reminder of the great times we had and enjoyed as he prided him self as he mastered the art of great oyster stew. Oyster stew for me has now become almost a comfort food by bringing back those memories.

    • Gregory Mouser

      I too…enjoy oysters anyway but raw… have to be cooked a little or fried…. some of the places selling oysters are farm raised.. I personally like the fresh wild caught oysters. I think they have the best flavor

    • TIM BARR


  5. Lucy Griffiths

    I’m making oyster stew for supper tonight. When growing up, we always had the stew on my father January birthday. My mother would place about a dozen plus Saltine crackers, between 2 sheets of wax paper, & use a rolling pin to make them fine. She would drain the pint of oysters, add milk with them in the pot. Depending how many of our family would be there, she would use about a quart of milk. Then she would add the crackers for thickener, dash of pepper, & a good tablespoon of butter. When she served the stew, there were more crackers if we wanted them. A simple recipe, but oh, so many good memories of over 60 years ago. We had to teach my husband how to eat the stew, as his mother had told him oysters weren’t to be chewed. It didn’t take him long to start loving the stew as much as the rest of us did.

    • kim

      WOW!!!! You just put some pieces together for me!! I went online to find an Oyster Stew recipe because, for some reason, I’ve been craving this delicious dish my Grandmother used to make every Christmas Eve. She has been gone now for the 30 years. Thank you!!

  6. Weezue

    Have loved oyster stew since I was a little girl. Mom made it for Christmas Eve. Two of My cousins hated the oysters so gave theirs to me and they ate the milk snd crackers!. Being much older now an living by myself I have to have it once a week and like to check out recipes. Try adding some tarragon and a little Worcestershire. Mmmm Delicious!

  7. Sylvia Doble Stringer

    I need 18 servings. Can I just quadruple this recipe?

  8. Robin Jones

    Hello to all you Oyster lovers..
    I am trying to duplicate my Grandma’s Oyster Stew that she always made during the holidays. 😜
    When she passed away, she took with her, the recipe that she had made for years.
    I’ve looked at allot of the Oyster Stew recipes n have put together my own Stew.
    Nobody ever mentioned, “Cooking Oyster Stew” in a Cast Iron Pot. I know my Gramma always cooked with cast iron, OMGoodness what a difference it makes.
    Wish me luck 😎
    1 chopped onion (1 cup)
    3 Small potatoes (2 cups)
    1 can (12oz.) Evaporated milk & equal amounts of whole milk.
    1/2 stick of butter
    6 jars of Jolly Roger Whole farm raised Oysters. (6 lrg. Oysters per jar)

  9. Luke Conner Sr

    My Mom made Oyster stew for me 40 years ago when i was 11 years old. I love it and i love more Oysters in it

  10. David Bozeman

    For me, the best thing about this recipe is that it does NOT use any onion. When onions are used, they’re all I can taste. The onions overcome the wonderful oysters in that rich, smooth, milky goodness. If you’re like me and are not a fan of the current “let’s put onions in practically everything” method of cooking, then this stew is perfect!

  11. Jamie Sullivan

    Excellent oyster stew. I added a little of Old Bay seasoning to add a Chesapeake flair. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Marie Goodrich

    Need the calories for a one cup serving. Nutrition chart would be helpful. My great-grandpa loved to make it himself with lots of oysters and pepper. He would use a home made biscuit fresh out the oven to stop up the bowl. I would make his favorite peanut butter cookies to go with it. Whenever I try to make it, it reminds me if H.P. Spradley. He was 80 when he joined his beloved Anniebell some 15 years ago.

  13. Margo Daugherty

    Try adding some Better Than Bouillon Fish or Clam Base.

  14. Wendy Carmichael

    I grew up eating oyster stew every Christmas morning, with fried oysters on the side, crackers and ketchup. 😋 Yummy! We always cooked the oysters in the stew (milk). Several years ago we made a change to our stew. Cook your stew the day before allowing all the flavors to merge together, next day heat stew and add oysters. Try oyster crackers and a squirt or two of ketchup! Enjoy!

  15. Leila Korotounova

    I’ve been making oyster stew and Russian Tea Cakes (sometimes called Mexican Wedding Cakes) for my family every Christmas Eve since 1965. Thanks to David Boseman’s comment about not using onions, I will keep my recipe this year very simple. Merry 2018 Christmas Eve to you all.

  16. Will Carter

    My grandma passed down this recipe to me many years ago and I make it like once a month when the weather is cool and oysters are in season.
    1. 1 gallon whole milk
    2. 1 can carnation evaporated milk
    3 . 1 stick of salted butter
    4. I don’t measure but a good bit of black pepper and some salt to taste.
    5. 2 pints of oysters with liquor. I would use more but they are just too expensive!
    Add milk, evap milk, butter, & spices almost to a boil but not quite and make sure to stir regularly so that it doesn’t scorch. When you get to that point , add the oysters and all the liquor and cook until the edge of the oysters get firm but be careful not to overcook and stir often. When done let cool in the pot for about 15 minutes before serving. I like to add about 1/2 teaspoon of good horseradish to my bowl, but some Texas Pete is good too. Some may even like a small amount of ketchup in theirs and of course add salt & pepper to taste. Serve with quality oyster crackers and enjoy!

  17. George Siskoff

    I like to use a double boiler to coddle the oysters with butter, seasoning and scallions. Add the milk once the oysters are done but not over cooked. The double boiler heats the milk without scorching. Top the stew with fresh chopped chives. Delecioso. Tip…….If you don’t have a double boiler place a stainless steel bowl over a sauce pan of boiling water.

  18. Tracee Clausen

    I make my grandmother’s recipe every New Year’s Eve. She used to put sliced hard-boiled egg in hers – it’s wonderful!!!!

  19. Nancy Sava

    Can’t wait to try an oyster stew. Have loved oysters since I had some raw just out of the Indian River in FL at my uncles fish camp. Lived in Norwalk, CT for 40 years, big oyster operation there, also oyster festival every year, except the last two (thank u Covid 😳).


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