Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Soups and Stews » Classic Creamy Oyster Stew

Classic Creamy Oyster Stew

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4.9 from 9 votes
This rich, creamy Oyster Stew is made with fresh, plump oysters. Just the thing to warm you up on cold evenings.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
A serving of oyster stew in a bowl with a napkin and spoon alongside.

This rich and creamy Classic Oyster Stew is made with fresh, plump, briny oysters. Just the thing to warm you up on cold evenings.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that I always think of when the weather turns cold. In my opinion, late fall and the early part of winter is the time of year when fresh oysters are at their best in the southeast.

A serving of oyster stew in a bowl with a napkin and spoon alongside.

Especially if you can get your hands on some Apalachicola Bay oysters. Small, sweet, plump, and with a mild saltwater taste, they’re simply the best oysters in the world.

Unfortunately, the future of those special oysters is threatened right now. Their ecosystem is in peril but people are working really hard to try to save it. I’m wishing them all the best in doing that.

Love Some Raw Oysters!

When I was much younger, we’d go to a local oyster bar in town to have oysters raw on the half shell. Rural southern oyster bars are not fancy places.

My favorite one had a screen door, a bar that would seat three folks on wooden stools, and one table with four straight-back wooden chairs. You’d wait your turn to sit at the bar where fresh oysters were shucked and served right in front of you.

The accompaniments? Soda crackers, hot sauce and, if you insisted, cocktail sauce. Take a shucked oyster. Place it on top of your cracker. Add a drop or two of hot sauce and inhale the whole thing in one bite. I’ve been known to down two dozen in a sitting.

They’re Also Great in a Stew

Besides enjoying them in their natural, raw state they are also delectable when battered and deep fried. Or you can take a slightly more refined approach and make them into this creamy, luscious oyster stew.

Be sure to use a pint of the freshest oysters possible. Ask the fish seller to hand shuck them if possible or bring them home and do that task yourself. Try to avoid the oysters in the plastic container at the grocery store. Lord only knows where they came from and how long they’ve been in that refrigerator case.

How to Make Oyster Stew

Ingredients for oyster stew in a pan.

Place all the ingredients except the milk in a saucepan.

COOK’S TIP 
Be sure to include the liquid the oysters are packed in (also known as oyster liquor). Or, if you’re shucking your own fresh, be sure to catch the liquid that’s inside the shells as you open the oysters.

Wooden spoon holding an oyster with edges just beginning to curl.

Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl. This takes about 10 minutes and should not be rushed. Be sure to keep the heat fairly low and stir frequently.

In another saucepan, scald the milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half. When the edges of the oysters have curled, add the scalded milk to the oyster mixture and stir well.

COOK’S TIP 
If you’re wondering what’s meant by “scald” by the milk, it’s really simple. Place the milk, heavy cream, or half and half in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until you see bubbles begin to form around the edges of the milk and it starts to steam. Technically, milk is scalded when it reaches 170 degrees if you want to be precise and use a thermometer but that’s not necessary.

Serve immediately with oyster crackers and additional Tabasco if desired. Would also be great with some warm, buttered honey wheat bread on the side.

FAQs

Why did my oyster stew curdle?

The most likely causes of a curdled oyster stew are either heating the milk too quickly or adding cold milk into warm ingredients. Be sure to warm the milk slowly following the tip above for scalding milk before adding it to the stew.

How do I serve oyster stew?

Oyster stew is best served while still piping hot from stove to table. I always serve it in a shallow bowl with the traditional accompaniment of crackers, either oyster crackers or saltine crackers. It really doesn’t need anything else.

How do I store this?

In my opinion, oyster stew is one of those dishes that is best served and enjoyed immediately. If you find that you do need to store it, you can keep it refrigerated for up to three days. To reheat it I’d either use a double boiler stirring almost constantly to prevent sticking, or microwave on 50% power stirring every 30 seconds or so until warm. Freezing is not recommended.

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Recipe

A serving of oyster stew in a bowl with a napkin and spoon alongside.

Oyster Stew

This rich, creamy Oyster Stew is made with fresh, plump oysters. Just the thing to warm you up on cold evenings.
4.89 from 9 votes
Print It Rate It Text It
Course: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 182kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 pint fresh oysters with their liquid
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups whole milk (or heavy cream, or half and half)
  • Oyster crackers (for serving)

Instructions

  • In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except milk. Heat over medium-low heat just until edges of oysters curl (about 10 minutes).
  • In another saucepan, scald the milk (or heavy cream, or half and half). Stir the milk into the other ingredients.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

How to Scald Milk – Place the milk, heavy cream, or half and half in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until you see bubbles begin to form around the edges of the milk and it starts to steam. Technically, milk is scalded when it reaches 170 degrees if you want to be precise and use a thermometer but that’s not necessary. 
  • Do not use low-fat or reduced fat milk for this recipe.
  • Be sure to include the liquid the oysters are packed in (also known as oyster liquor). Or, if you’re shucking your own fresh oysters, be sure to catch the liquid that’s inside the shells as you open the oysters.
FAQs
Why did my oyster stew curdle? The most likely causes are either heating the milk too quickly or adding cold milk into warm ingredients. Be sure to warm the milk slowly following the tip above for scalding milk before adding it to the stew.
How do I serve oyster stew? Oyster stew is best served while still piping hot from stove to table. I always serve it in a shallow bowl with the traditional accompaniment of crackers, either oyster crackers or saltine crackers. It really doesn’t need anything else.
How do I store this? In my opinion, this is one of those dishes that is best served and enjoyed immediately. If you find that you do need to store it, you can keep it refrigerated for up to three days. To reheat it I’d either use a double boiler stirring almost constantly to prevent sticking, or microwave on 50% power stirring every 30 seconds or so until warm. Freezing is not recommended.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 177mg | Potassium: 198mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 588IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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9 Comments

  1. Love the oyster stew. May sound strange but I also add sliced mushrooms to my oyster stew. You know how you have oysters in the stew but don’t get an oyster most of the time when eating the stew. Mushrooms is a great addition to the stew. It tends to give the stew more body.

  2. Caught you in my feed again Lana – must be a reason this keeps happening because I rarely have time to even look at it much any more! So funny.

    My FIL shucks full sacks at a time & always sends some over. I have a Mason jar of them in the fridge right now he just sent over, along with his fabulous stew! There is absolutely nothing like sweet oysters right out of our Gulf, freshly shucked and they are really good this year. People who’ve never had them just have no idea!! I love oyster stew too & make mine the same way Mama used to make it for Daddy, not too different from this. He and I were the only oyster lovers in the house & I didn’t even start out that way. I used to sit out in the garage with Daddy when he would shuck a sack & had to be convinced. Can’t even say how many trays of oysters I’ve eaten in my lifetime now though!!

    1. How lucky are you to have someone who shucks them for you! I can do it, but it takes me forever. I’ve seen people shucking oysters so fast you can hardly see their hands moving. Those folks have been shucking for a loooong time. I need more practice. :-)

      1. Yep, there’s a lot of shucking going on down here on the Gulf Coast!! I can shuck pretty good myself, but (in my best southern drawl…) I’d MUCH rather have a man do it for me. ;)

  3. The visual I got of your description of a rural southern oyster bar is priceless. There’s an oyster bar that recently opened nearby that has oysters from all over the world and great oyster po-boys – I’ll have to ask them about Apalachicolas.