Mignonette Sauce for Oysters


A classic accompaniment to raw oysters, mignonette sauce made with shallots, vinegar, and white pepper.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Do you like raw oysters? My brother Matt lives in Point Reyes and has access to wonderful oysters from Tomales Bay.

Lately he’s been bringing a few dozen with him when he comes to visit. The oyster eaters among us gather and have quite the feast when he arrives.

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My favorite accompaniment to fresh, raw oysters is this mignonette—a piquant sauce made with vinegar and shallots that you sprinkle on top of the oyster, much like a squeeze of lemon juice.

It’s a lovely balance to the briny, somewhat creamy oysters.

The recipe comes by way of my French sweetheart, who grew up on oysters in the South of France. This is his cherished mignonette recipe which he makes every time we have a gathering to enjoy oysters.

By the way, according to him, “mignonette” translates roughly into “cute, small, and tasty”, and that’s exactly what this is.

Mignonette Sauce for Oysters Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Marinating time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Makes about a cup and a half, easily enough for several dozens of oysters.

Make the mignonette at least 4 hours ahead of time, preferably a day or two, which allows for the flavors to blend, and the shallots to mellow.


  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup clear, unseasoned rice vinegar*
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of finely crushed white peppercorns (do not use pre-ground or powdered white pepper)

*If using seasoned rice vinegar, omit the sugar and salt



1 Finely mince the shallots: Peel and coarsely chop the shallots. Put them into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the shallots are finely minced, but not mush, with pieces no smaller than the tip of a match.

You can also finely mince by hand if you wish. The advantage of using a food processor is that the food processor bowl captures all of the liquid released by the shallots as they are minced, which will enhance the flavor of the mignonette.

2 Stir in white vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, salt: Place the minced shallots and any liquid released from them in a non-reactive (glass or pyrex) bowl. Add the white vinegar, rice vinegar, and sugar and salt. Stir with a fork.

Add the freshly crushed white pepper. Stir with a fork.

3 Chill: Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours. For best results, store for at least 2 days before using.

The mignonette flavor will be better blended the longer it sits. You may notice that the crushed white peppercorns may sink to the bottom of the bowl as the mignonette rests. If you see this, just give it a little stir.

The mignonette will last up to a month in the refrigerator.

To serve, shuck the oysters. (Here is an excellent video by Serious Eats on How to Shuck an Oyster.) Make sure that the oyster is loose in the shell before serving.

Usually the mignonette sauce is served in a small bowl with a small spoon, alongside the oysters on a platter (or as the French say, "plateau de coquillages"). People can scoop a small amount of the mignonette (1/8 of a teaspoon or so) onto their oyster before eating.

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The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell - a fascinating book about the history of New York City, from the perspective of the oyster trade. By Mark Kurlansky.

Asian mignonette, with rice vinegar, ginger, shallots, and coriander from Jaden at SteamyKitchen.com

Mignonette granita - a lot like our mignonette, but in shaved ice form, from Umami Girl

Sparkling rosé mignonette from Peter of Kalofagas

Mignonette Sauce for Oysters

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

25 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Bill

    Sugar? On a fresh oyster? Really?

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  2. Michael Gareau

    Great!!!I Love it!!!!!!


  3. Di

    Quarantine 2020 has us baking bread and shucking oysters. This is a great recipe. It held up well in the fridge for a month.


  4. Eric Rath

    I have been cooking for 35 years and my parents lived in France for 5 years where I visited many times. Now having lived in the Pacific Northwest for 25 plus and eaten so many oysters beyond count m, I found this recipe to capture that special French accent that they have in their preparation. My only go to now and I am preparing a large batch tonight for the Champagne and Oyster toast at my wedding this weekend in Hood Canal.


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  5. Tyler

    How come you say not to use pre-ground white pepper? I’m making this tonight but I wasn’t able to find whole white peppercorns at my local grocer.

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