Grilled Oysters

One of my favorite ways to eat oysters (especially those strongly flavored big ones) is grilled. Guest author Jaden shares a personal lesson from the Shuckmeister on how to do it. Enjoy! ~Elise

Even though I live all the way on the other side of the country, I think I see Elise more often than I see some of my neighbors. Just this year alone, we’ve been to Seattle, Chicago, Bahamas and twice to San Francisco! Since I talk in my sleep and Elise sings in her sleep, we make excellent traveling companions. I just feel sorry for any hotel guests who share adjoining walls with us!

On our last trip to San Francisco, we participated in the Foodbuzz Festival. The first night was sort of like a street food party, where the best of the best San Francisco street food carts came and camped out right in front of the Ferry Building. About 200 hungry hungry hippos (i.e. food bloggers) came to enjoy the pulled pork sandwiches, thin-crusted pizzas, local beers and oysters. Oh oysters galore! Hog Island Oyster Company brought hundreds of Kumamoto Oysters and Small Sweetwater Oysters! Their “shuckmeister” shucked and served…Elise and I slurped and swooned.

We got to talking with the Shuckmeister (forgot his name) about grilled oysters, a popular way to enjoy oysters in the SF Bay Area, especially in Tomales Bay.

There are several ways you can make their grilled oysters – it all depends on your ability to shuck a raw oyster (Shuckmeister made it look really easy…but it takes a ton of practice) and how big your oysters are. I’ll give you all of the options!

Grilled Oysters Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 16 oysters

I know for sure that Hog Island doesn't put their oysters on a bed of rice! But the rice helps steady the oysters and prevents the flavorful sauce and juices from spilling. Of course, I only used rice because I didn't have any rock salt in the house. You can use either, or if you're able to balance the oysters on the grill grates, go for it!



  • 16 whole live oysters
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or substitute with dashes of Tabasco)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley


Heat a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the olive oil and the butter. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, chili pepper flakes, salt, pepper and parsley. Turn off heat.

How to grill oysters
If you can find large, fat oysters, you can place the oysters directly on the grill grates. It's best to wear long, sturdy BBQ gloves so you can handle the oysters by hand instead of using tongs, spoons or spatula. However, if the oysters are small and flat, you'll run the risk of spilling its valuable, flavorful juices as well as the garlic-butter sauce. You can do what I've done, which is to place the oysters on a bed of rock salt or rice in a small pan -- and then placing the entire pan inside the grill or under a broiler. This steadies the oysters and prevents them from wobbling.

If you are a shuckmeister
Shuck the oysters, spoon a little sauce in each oyster. Place oysters on a very hot, preheated grill, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the edges of oysters curl slightly.

If you can't shuck
Place the oysters, cup side up on a very hot, preheated grill, cover and cook for 1 minute. The oysters should now be slightly open. Quickly remove the oysters. Hold an oyster with an oven mitt and use a shucking knife (or a clean screwdriver if you don't have one) to pry open the oyster. It should easily open. Spoon sauce into each oyster and return oysters to the grill. Cover and grill 4-5 minutes.

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Oyster photos by Jaden Hair.


How to Grill Oysters video from Eating Richly

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell - terrific book about the history of New York City from the perspective of the oyster business, by Michael Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History and Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World


  1. Acher

    Oh how I love grilled oysters. My favorites come from a restaurant in New Orleans called Drago’s. They are sinful. Luckily the recipe (or something very close to it) is in a book called New Orleans Food by Tom Fitzmorris. Next time we buck up and buy oysters, I’ll be sure to try these too!

  2. Gaelle @

    Your recipe looks really delicious. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll try cooked oysters. I am a big fan of raw oysters (and believe it or not, so are my children)… but I have hard time when it comes to eating them cooked… but I promised I might try one day.

  3. UncleGeorge

    There are two sides of an oyster shell; the flat side and the cupped side.

    Experienced shuckers know this, and generally present the tasty bivalve in its cupped shell side.

    By grilling in this natural container, the delicate oyster taste can be harmoniously combined with a variety of extras for culinary goodness creating a potion far beyond any delight coveted by the gods.

  4. Edith

    Drago’s in New Orleans makes the very best roasted (or grilled) oysters! Delicious!

  5. arugulove

    I haven’t been to Hog Island yet, but if you are ever at their oyster farm in Marshall, there’s another shack down the road. That’s where I had grilled oysters for the first time in my life and I think it might just be the most amazing thing I have ever eaten. I’m totally intimidated by shucking, but if I ever get over my fear, I am making these!

  6. Dawn

    “Makes 16 oysters.” So, in other words, “Serves one” right? ;) Seriously, I could eat a whole plate of these and then come back for more.

  7. Anna

    I didn’t grow up eating oysters, but I’m trying to cultivate a taste for them now as they are really healthy and a great source of zinc. I’m lucky to have a great cultivated oyster business nearby so I can buy them the local farmer’s market.

    We’ve been making some long drives lately and to pass the time I’ve been listening to an audio recording of Mark Kurlansky’s book The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. Like Kurlansky’s other books, Cod: A Biography of a Fish that Changed the World and Salt, this book about oysters is fascinating.

    Thanks for the recommendation. I love Kurlansky’s books! ~Elise

  8. Katie

    My boyfriend and I love to grill oysters. We got some beautiful oysters in the San Juan islands from a wonderful fisherman that recommended garlic butter and a little bit of curry powder! It is delicious!

  9. Tracy (Amuse-bouche for Two)

    To help in the shucking department, you can also put the oysters into the freezer for about 5 minutes. Insert the knife into the shucking end, twist, and pop…you’ve got an open oyster.

  10. J Smith

    Wow, I was just thinking that my brother & I needed to grill another batch of oysters next month. This is great inspiration. Last January we did 4 dozen and 4 different toppings because oysters were so inexpensive. We decided our fav was a topping with red wine vinegar, worcestershire, parsley, cayenne, red pepper flakes, black pepper, cooked bacon, a bit of horseradish & lemon juice and sauteed shallots and garlic.

  11. Marilyn Adams

    I was weaned on oysters and the recipe looks good, BUT…….. They must be put on the grill with the cup side on the bottom! Cupped side on the grill. Because when they open, that nice cupped shell will keep all the juices in. Nectar of the gods!

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