Oyster Stew


A creamy holiday oyster stew with oysters, milk, butter, onions, celery, parsley, and a dash of Tabasco.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

When I told my friend Becca that I had made oyster stew, she looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and asked, “well, did you like it?”

As I nodded yes, she added laughing, “it’s a lot better than you would think, isn’t it?”

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Becca is from Biloxi, Mississippi and is well acquainted with this Southern stew. It’s normally eaten around the holidays, but I thought it might make a good Lenten dish.

Those of you acquainted with oyster stew know how good it is. Those of you who aren’t, and who like me the first time I heard of it, sort of cringe at the very idea, you’ll just have to take my word.

It’s beyond good. It’s lick the plate of every last drop good.

How to Make Oyster Stew

Smooth and puréed version of Oyster Stew

Even if you are not a big fan of raw oysters, not everyone is, but you like shellfish like clams or scallops, you’ll be fine with this stew. It reminds me a lot of a really good cream of mushroom soup, but with oysters instead of mushrooms.

About the oysters. You can use freshly shucked if you have access to them, though you’ll need quite a few for this stew. We used jarred oysters that we found in the refrigerated seafood section of our local grocery store (Raley’s).

Strain canned oysters for oyster stew

I’ve since seen them in practically every grocery store I’ve been to in my area, so I assume that the jarred oysters are not that hard to find, and they’ll likely be much more cost effective than freshly shucked.

Oyster Stew Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

You may or may not need to add salt to this stew, depending on how briny your oysters are.

If you use freshly shucked oysters, be sure to save the juice, or liquor, that comes out of the shells. You need it for the stew.

If you want to vary things, add a splash of brandy, Madeira or white wine, and play around with the herbs. Mint, dill, or fennel fronds are all good alternatives.


  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 pint oysters with their liquor, jarred or freshly shucked, about 2 dozen*
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 celery stalks, minced
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, minced
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cream (can use all milk if you want)
  • Splash of Tabasco, Crystal, or other hot sauce
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced

* You may be able to find refrigerated jarred oysters (without shells) near the seafood counter at your local grocery store.


1 Strain and reserve the oyster juice, rinse oysters: Strain the oyster juice through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl to remove any grit. Reserve the juices. Rinse the oysters well, under cold water. Put them in a bowl.

2 Make a roux: Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture for a few minutes, stirring often.

3 Add celery and onions: When the roux turns the color of coffee-with-cream, stir in the celery and onions. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

4 Add oyster juices, milk, cream, hot sauce: Add the oyster juice and any juices the oysters in the bowl have released. The flour in the roux will absorb the liquid and turn into a paste. Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring to incorporate as you pour them in. Add a healthy splash or two of hot sauce, to taste.

5 Heat soup until steamy: Heat the soup to steamy, but below a simmer, over low heat, cook for 15 minutes. (Do not let the soup boil!)

6 Add oysters: If you are working with large oysters, you may want to chop them into bite-sized pieces. Add the oysters and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl.

If you want the stew to be more like a smooth soup, purée until smooth.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley to serve.

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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

60 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Nancy

    I have never made oyster stew with a roux but decided to try this. My husband and I both liked it pretty well. I added a bit of worchestershire sauce and only used 1 celery stalk. It makes enough for 4 servings and it was not thick and pasty.


  2. Availeth

    The only reason I’m giving this recipe two stars instead of one is that I’m going to assume there’s “user-error” on my part (even though I did FOLLOW all the directions to the letter, but who knows.) It’s the day after Christmas about noon, and I’m still kind of disappointed and annoyed about this recipe.

    You didn’t really say how LONG the steps take (which they do). “Prep Time 10 Minutes, Cook Time 20”??! Uh, no. And for those of you who say it’s quick and easy, well…I don’t know what to think about you.

    I put in some pepper and salt, and tasted it before adding Tabasco. It was so very bland, really needed more salt. It needs more salt, definitely will benefit from Tabasco (more than a splash)–and why did you make me buy unsalted butter then??

    I cooked it for 2 or 3 minutes to “make sure” the uncurled/curled oysters were cooked and then I poured it into our bowls. Recipe says it makes 4-6 servings. What? There was exactly enough for two bowls. Maybe if you little teeny bowls (like the one shown above containing oysters?) you can serve 4-6 people?


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  3. beth

    can I use canned smoked oysters?

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Betty

    Can I make oyster stew in my slow cooker? Thanks.

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  5. Karen

    I made this today after church. Very easy to make. This is the first oyster stew for our family. All say thumbs up.

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