Mignonette Sauce for 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.

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


  • 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.

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • Froilan

    They were delicious


  • Eric

    Why ever would you put salt on freshly opened oysters? The liquid in an oyster is 8% salt…

  • Mark Backlund

    I loved it, and so did our guests, on the Pacifica oysters I grow in “grow bags” here in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. I made one modification, using white balsamic grapefruit vinegar instead of plain white vinegar. The citrus of the grapefruit added a sparkle note you could almost hear ring!


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Mark, oh I love the idea of grapefruit vinegar, love the citrus note! So glad you liked the mignonette.

  • Chris

    This an amazing recipe. Just had it for the 5th time with my favorite Pacific NW Kushi oysters. I got a great idea from a local restaurant in Seattle to freeze it then serve it a crushed ice. It adds a refreshing dimension that you will just have to try to experience how incredibly good it is.

  • curiouscook

    please mince your shallots opposed to relying on a food processor. The end result will be dramatically superior. By mincing (not chopping with a chef knife) the flavor/juice will remain intact until crushed by your teeth with enjoying the oyster resulting in enjoying the sauce to as it was originally prepared.

  • Mark L.

    Great local source for fresh oysters (and other seafood) in Sacramento is Sunh Fish, 1301 Broadway, inside the Asian food center. Miyagi’s are around $.60 each and kumamoto’s for $.95.

  • Katie

    I am obsessed with oysters lately! Just can’t get enough of them. A good mignonette can not be undervalued. I love your blend of two vinegars. I had a mignonette at a restaurant on Saturday night made with Sherry vinegar. It was way too overpowering. I am definitely going to try yours when we have an oyster party next month.

  • Kelly

    This is our standard sauce as well, but after having tried a frozen version at The Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, we’ve started serving it that way. Sort of a sorbet or granita for your oysters.

    Just make the mignonette and then freeze it. Check back before it freezes totally solid (which of course will depend on how much you’ve made and how deep your container is) and scratch it up with a fork.

    You end up using a little bit more, so it’s worth making a larger batch than normal if you’re planning to serve it frozen.

  • Mymy

    Shallots aren’t very commom in my side of the world (Philippines), but someone recently introduced me to a sauce quite similar to this. Only she uses finely minced onions and adds a tiny bit of fish sauce. Then she fries up thinly sliced onions until brown and almost crispy. The acidity from the sauce with the sweetness from the fried onions come together with the oysters and they have a party in your mouth. yum…

  • Carolyn

    I really enjoy mignonette sauce with my oysters. My husband likes the regular cocktail sauce. I have turned a few people on the the sauce. It enhances more than the red stuff. That seems to cover the oyster taste. We have Chesapeake bay oysters here and Chincoteague oyters

  • Angela

    How funny,just yesterday I was in the nearby town of Arles and we had oysters in a place called bar des lices, I was writing up about it today and couldn’t think of what to call the Mignonette, (I think I called it vinaigre au échalotes).I like Tabasco with oysters and I asked the bar man if he had any, he looked at me as though I had insulted his own grandmother, but sent somebody off to go and get the pepper mill for me instead, it had white pepper in it which he assured me would enhance the taste of the oysters.

  • Jimmy Crackcorn

    Zuni Cafe in San Francisco prepares it with one part Champagne vinegar, three parts Champagne, shallots and fresh cracked black pepper. Bring the liquid up to a boil, shut down then add the remaining ingredients and chill. Its perfect!

  • Steve-Anna Stephens

    Wow, we really are two peas from the same pod! I found a source for fresh blue point oysters here in Tucson (yes, really!) and just shucked some yesterday. Of course I made my version of a mignonnette, too. I simply use the rice vinegar with a dash of lemon juice, so I’ll try the vinegar combo next time.

    How would you describe the benefit of using both? I would imagine the addition of the white vinegar would make it slightly more “clear”?

    I have to admit to being a *huge* fan of horseradish with raw oysters, so I usually layer that on top of the mignonette, too.

  • BJ

    Elise I have a question about shallots I’ve not found answered….when a recipe calls for shallots does “shallot” refer to the entire bulb, or one of the cloves in the bulb? I’ve always assumed since the addition isn’t written like garlic (re number of cloves) that it means the entire bulb. I may, however, have been adding the wrong amount all this time, as reading the recipe above I would take it to mean 4 large cloves from a bulb.

    Thank you for clarifying for me!

    I’ve always considered a shallot to be an individual clove, not the entire shallot bulb. ~Elise

    • John

      Their is no right answer since all cloves whether garlic or shallots are of different size and potency, It’s just a guideline. You should add to preference. Any recipe that calls for one clove of garlic gets five cloves in my book. Add shallots to the consistency and potency you enjoy. Eat live and love…~ aRcaNum