Start the Party with Grilled Oysters!

grilled oysters
Oysters on the Grill


“Gimme oysters and beer

For dinner every day of the year

And I’ll feel fine… I’ll feel fine”

Jimmy Buffett


We’re right in the middle of grilling season. This year, in addition to the usual steaks and burgers, why not change things up and throw some live oysters on the grill?

On the barbecue, oysters take a few minutes to heat up and once hot, they are much easier to shuck than the live ones. Cooked oysters are a great way to introduce tentative guests to the spell of the oyster cult. Sputtering and popping oysters on the grill are a terrific way to get the party started.

That old admonition to eat oysters in months that are only spelled with the letter “r” is no longer applicable. Oysters begin to spawn when the water temperature rises. Spawning oysters, while not inedible, are unpleasant and milky. Some oysters are bred to be incapable of spawning so these are consumed all year long. Additionally, during the hot months, vendors can easily import oysters from cooler regions where they are not spawning. Nowadays, there are so many areas where oysters are farmed, it is not difficult to find non-spawning oysters year round.

Six Toppings for Hot Oysters

Grilled Oysters - Two Ways
Grilled Oysters – Two Ways

With more than 200 oyster appellations in North America, there are many different flavor profiles. In addition to the distinct characteristics of the five different species, oysters take on the flavors of the sea in which they are raised, much like wine gets its character from the terroir, the environment in which the grapes are grown.

Flavors range from mild and sweet to salty and fruity. For example, Blue Points from Long Island Sound have a crisp texture, gorgeous salinity and hints of celery. Malaspinas are a sweet, mild Pacific oyster with a distinct watermelon-rind aroma and creamy-white flesh. Fanny Bays are hefty and beautifully fluted, the meat is smooth with a clean cucumber finish. The town of Fanny Bay is on the inner coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. They’re one of our favorites, meticulously farmed, you rarely get a bad Fanny.

grilled oyster
Fanny Bay Oyster with Melting Butter


Place rinsed cold live oysters on a hot grill, cup side down – flat side up, for about 3 to 4 minutes until they pop and sizzle. Each oyster cooks in its own time, depending on size and the hot spots on the grill.

Use tongs to remove the hot oysters from the grill. Then use a folded kitchen towel to stabilize and hold a single oyster, protecting the hand holding it. Insert the tip of an oyster knife into the pointy end of the shell, next to the hinge. Wiggle the knife into the oyster then twist the knife to pop the shell open. When an oyster is heated, the muscle relaxes and the shell loosens so little effort is needed to pop the shell. Wipe the knife clean to remove any bits of shell clinging to it. Then use the knife to cut the muscle that holds the oyster meat to the shell. Keep the oyster level to prevent the precious oyster liquor from spilling.

While cooked oysters are much easier to shuck than live ones, it still can be dangerous. Never point the tip of the knife toward the hand holding the oyster, as it can slip and stab your hand. Practice slanting the knife downward. A chain mesh glove can be worn for extra protection. Also, it might be best to save those beers for after the oysters have been shucked.

Grilled oyster
Grilled Oyster – Butter, Celery Hearts, Sea Salt, White Pepper

Toppings for that hot oyster:

Maybe you’ve already tried my BBQ OYSTERS – KOREAN STYLE with Gochujang Butter, Kimchi, Scallion? I was honored to have this recipe featured in the Korea Herald Business last week. You might want to treat your guests to some of the other fabulous flavorings below. Remember, the toppings are just meant to add interest, as the oyster is the real star, so add toppings sparingly.

BBQ Oyster - Korean Style
BBQ Oyster Korean Style

Korean style: Click here for full recipe and ingredients.

Sriracha butter: Melt one half stick of butter in a small pan, stir in 2 teaspoons Sriracha (chili sauce). Spoon a small amount of melted butter sauce over the oyster.

Scotch whisky: Drizzle a very small amount of smoky, peaty Scotch over the hot oyster. Hot oysters and scotch are an extraordinary combination!

Bacon and bleu cheese: Top a shucked oyster with a few crumbles of bleu cheese and finely chopped cooked bacon. Put the oyster back on the grill until the cheese starts to melt.

Lemon garlic butter: Melt one half stick of butter in a small pan, add 2 cloves minced garlic, and cook for one minute. Remove from heat, add the juice from one half lemon and 1 teaspoon chopped parsley. Spoon over hot oyster.

Celery hearts: Place a very small cube of unsalted butter on the hot oyster. Add a pinch of sea salt and white pepper. Garnish with finely chopped leaves from the heart of a celery stalk. Enjoy as the butter starts to melt.

Parmesan and smoked paprika: Spoon a small dollop of mayonnaise onto a shucked oyster. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and top with shredded Parmesan. Put the oyster back on the grill until the cheese melts.

Grilled Oyster - Parmesan, Mayo, Smoked Paprika
Grilled Oyster – Parmesan, Mayo, Smoked Paprika

Make sure to have the toppings ready to go before grilling the oysters. And serve barbecue oysters immediately. In fact, it’s fun to have a production line – as oysters are ready to come off the grill – shuck, dress and serve them to the guests huddled around the barbecue.

Grilled Oyster with Scotch Whisky
Grilled Oyster with Scotch Whisky

Happy grilling & slurping!

Celebrating 6 Years!


Oh, and if you haven’t already,
please stop my my previous post on K-POP {Korean Popcorn} here

to help me celebrate 6 years of Taste With The Eyes
and a chance to win my K-POP KIT Giveaway!

14 thoughts on “Start the Party with Grilled Oysters!”

  1. Oh how you make me crave oysters. But I’m going to order them from a restaurant. I’m still shy about opening them – grilled or not. By the way, I made a close variation of your BLP today and it was divine.

    1. Add creamy lump crab meat on top of cooked oyster and then finish with the Parmesan & Smoked paprika…. You will never forget it!

  2. It’s a Jimmy Buffet summer!!!! YAY!!! “I wish lunch could last forever”! Great post, Lori. I appreciate your detailed directions and precautions. Congratulations and cheers to your Korea Herald Business feature.

    1. FA – I wish lunch could last forever! Une bouteille de vin blanc… and coconut tart.
      P.S. When did I tell you that’s my favorite JB song?

  3. 🙂 ! After a lifetime of oysters mornay and kilpatrick and casino and bercy the purity of au naturel naturally calls . . . but how on earth would an oyster in single malt whisky taste 🙂 ?

  4. WOW! These look insanely good. Love your suggestions for other simple toppings, too. Have you tried Baja Nautilus oysters out of Baja California? Med-large, full bodied, deliciously briny with a fresh sea grass finish.

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