Smoked Oysters

4.74 from 15 votes
Jump to Recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

smoked oysters on a plate
Photo by Hank Shaw

If you’ve ever had industrial smoked oysters, you might be put off by this recipe. Don’t be. Freshly smoked oysters are about as close to the stale, canned things as Spam is to ribeye.

Freshly smoked oysters are delicate, juicy and only mildly smoky. They are wonderful on their own as a snack, or put back in their shell and served with a zippy mixture of minced shallot and vinegar, the famous mignonette. Or add them to pasta, rice, stews or chowders.

My preference is to use small oysters for this recipe, as they are daintier and more fun to eat. I was lucky enough to be given a bag of lovely little oysters from the Hog Island Oyster Co. in Tomales Bay, one of my frequent haunts. These tasty bivalves are excellent raw on the half shell, but while I like raw oysters, I don’t love them (I love raw clams, however).

A single smoked oyster a shell
Photo by Hank Shaw

In winter one of my all-time favorite appetizers is smoked mussels, and this recipe more or less follows that one.

The result is briny, smoky, tender and oyster-y. If you make these, you will not be sad.

The best way to preserve your smoked oysters is to vacuum seal them once they’re cold. If you do this, they will keep for a year. Otherwise, you can put them in a jar of olive oil and they will keep in the fridge for about two weeks.

Oh, and can you do this with pre-shucked oysters? I suppose so, but it would not be my preference.

smoked oysters recipe
4.74 from 15 votes

Smoked Oysters

This is an easy way to make smoked oysters, where you make your own brine while prepping them. You can of course shuck all your oysters raw and use the liquor to brine them, but it's a bit harder and I don't like the end product quite so much. But either way works.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 pints
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours


  • 40 to 50 oysters in the shell
  • 1 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • About 1/4 cup high quality olive oil or other oil, such as walnut or hazelnut


  • Make sure all the oysters are clean by running them under cold water. Bring the vermouth and water to a boil and add some oysters in a single layer. Cover and steam until they are open, which should take between a minute and 3 minutes. Move opened oysters to a bowl or baking sheet and add more fresh ones until you've steamed them all open.
  • Strain the cooking liquid through a paper towel or cheesecloth (to remove all the debris) into a bowl. Set aside.
  • Use a small, sharp knife to remove the oysters from the shells, trying your best to get the little "scallop" muscle that holds the oyster in its shell -- it's tasty! When it's done, drop each oyster into the strained broth. Make sure all the oysters soak for at least 20 minutes.
  • Fire up the smoker. I use alder or cherry wood, and I like the temperature to be around 145°F. Keep in mind oysters are small, so you will need a fine grate to prevent them from falling through. I use dehydrator mats. Smoke the oysters for 90 minutes to 2 hours -- you don't need a whole lot of time here, just enough to get a smoky flavor without overcooking them. Don't let the smoker get too hot!
  • When they are done, toss the oysters in the oil and eat, or store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week. Freeze what you don't eat.


Once made, these oysters are excellent in a mixed seafood chowder, stew or pasta -- at the last minute, remember they are cooked. You can also just eat them as an appetizer on crackers. Something acidic, like minced shallot or chile soaked in lime juice, is an excellent accompaniment.


Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 30mg | Potassium: 44mg | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

You May Also Like

Wild Rice Salad

A fresh and bright wild rice salad recipe that mimics Crisp and Green’s “wild child” salad. I use grouse, wild rice and dried wild berries.

Venison Liver and Onions

Venison liver and onions is a bedrock deer liver recipe you will want to learn. I normally don’t like liver, so this recipe is for skeptics like me. I genuinely loved this dish.

Oyster Stew

A recipe for Southern oyster stew, a simple, brothy, creamy soup that highlights fresh oysters. It’s a tradition in the South and, surprisingly, the Midwest.

Panzanella di Mare

Panzanella di mare is an Italian bread salad with tinned fish. This is a winter panzanella with black kale, squash and sage. It’s versatile, too.

About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Years ago we used to be able to get smoked oysters that were black, rubbery somewhat hollow things from a place in Newport Or. Extremely Delicious! They sold them by the pound and just put them into a plastic bag for you. They could be kept in the fridge and they would last a very long time without spoiling.
    Sadly, though one can no longer get them. I was told at the time due to new regulations. They now are these wet, smoked, not very good oysters that are vacuum packed. I have tried in the past to recreate them with no luck due to lack of knowledge, equipment. I am learning more and have a good smoker now. So, asking a very knowledgeable person such as yourself, how could I remake those black, rubbery, smoked oysters that I love? They were not salty, best described as just a very wonderful umami flavor. Thank you for any help with this.

  2. We are using a Weber grill & cherry chunks to smoke Maine’s finest, Iron Island Oysters. While tricky to keep a low temp, they come out smoky and rich, smoking only 60 mins or they crisp. We smoked 300 for a family event this summer & all were gone in 10 days, with everyone hankering (no pun intended!) for more.

    Thanks, Hank. These smoked oysters are freakin’ legendary!

  3. Do you have any recommendations for hot smokers that do a good job of maintaining 145°? I built a cold-smoker but am looking to buy an electric hot smoker for the sole purpose of smoking oysters. If you don’t want to endorse a particular brand – are there things I should look for? Things to avoid?

      1. Wow, thanks for the speedy reply. I notice that Bradley uses its own briquettes. What’s you feeling about that? Vacuum cleaner bags – locked in to something expensive and might be hard to get or changes format. I lean toward open source, but everything else about their smoker looked fantastic and caused me to cancel my charbroil smoker order 🙂

      2. Cleo: I haven’t had a problem with the briquettes. Easy to get on Amazon or wherever, and there are third party makers of them.

      3. Thanks again! We raise oysters in New Hampshire. And, you can one eat a few hundred raw, so I’m excited to smoke them. I’ll take a photo of my first batch.

      4. Just used my Bradley smoker for the first time. Wow, thanks so much for the recommendation. I started with Smoked Salmon from the Bradley recipe book. The fish came out beautifully. Oysters up next…

  4. Outstanding!!! I spoiled dinner by making these delicious bites; we just could not stop eating them. Had them with a drizzle of butter and some hot sauce.

    Definitely making again, and will check out your other recipes here, as well.

    Thank you so much for the recipe!!!

  5. strangely enough….they are fantastic on an tims cascade jalapeno potato chip…probably one of my most favorite things in this smoked oysters…great recipe…i usually use alder for everything..because it grows in grays harbor like weeds.

  6. Canning oysters? Consider this:
    The USDA publishes that oysters and other seafood are fully-cooked, when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 deg. F.

    2) Many seafood
    enthusiasts and professionals, myself included, believe the USDA temperature already overcooks seafood. *

    3) The USDA also publishes that canning, including home canning a low acid food, such as oysters, is safe ONLY when the food is cooked to 240-250 deg. F, (WOW!) and held at that temperature for 20-100 minutes.(DOUBLE WOW!)

    4) As a seafood professional, (I work at a supermarket seafood counter,) I cannot ethically recommend cooking or canning any food without following USDA guidelines.

    4) As an experiment, you might try cooking some oysters, smoked or otherwise, as the USDA recommends for canning, but without canning them Then eat them as soon as you can do so without burning yourself.

    If you like them that way, you might like them canned.

    If you like them cooked that way, go ahead and can them. Storing them in a vacuum-sealed mason jar may preserve then, but will not make them taste better.

    (*) LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.

  7. Hi Clutchngrab, I too am thinking about cold smoking and canning. It seems the canning for 75 minutes (per USDA) would essentially cook them anyway. If anyone has insight on how the commercial shellfish smokers process, I would love to know the tried-and-true method(s).

  8. Hey Hank, I’m thinking of following the basic recipe, cold smoking instead of warm smoking and then canning according to the USDA guidelines for oysters. What do you think? I’ve had some success with this approach with fatty salmon so I thought it might be worthwhile… have you tried canning?

  9. I’ve used other recipes of yours and have been quite pleased with the results so am going to try my hand at oysters, but found some quality fresh oysters in a jar and hope to use this recipe. Any recommendations on how to “cook” without the shell?

  10. So they aren’t cooked already from opening? Or are they partially cooked then you’re finishing cooking in smoker? Thanks.

  11. I’ve made your oysters and let me tell you you were 100% right they are so succulent so much flavor but mouth is watering just by talking to you about this!

  12. Its not a Washington State “thing”, it’s a conservation thing. The free floating larval stage (spat) will anchor themselves to old oyster shells. That’s why the shells must be returned to the beach at about the same level as they were taken. The rule is for public beaches. Commercial harvesters and beach owners can remove them. I try and put them back after shucking unless I need the shell (on the bbq, half shell, etc).

    1. Shucking oysters on the beach is a sustainability practice because it allows the larvae or spats to settle onto the discarded shells. For whatever reason we don’t find oysters on the beach in the Bay Area like you all do up on Puget Sound.

  13. Hank, up here in Washington oysters have to be shucked on the beach. Do you recomend changing the recipe for already shucked oysters?

  14. Hog Islands oysters, Cowgirl Creamery, a glass of wine on the pier at Nick’s Cover after a long hike. Ahh, these are a few of my favorite things.

  15. Hank,

    Thanks, will Use this to break in my new compact smoker. Have you smoked clams? I think you do mussels as well as oysters, are clams too mild to be smoke candidates? I have great access to lots of clams when I relocate to Cedar Key for a few months.

  16. These look delicious, but I don’t have a smoker. Do you think I could smoke them on the stove top using a wok with a rack set in it, or is that too crude?

    1. Kate: No idea. But I bet you could use that stovetop smoker set-up some chefs use, as the smoking time is not that long.

  17. Hank,

    Thanks for the post! We are required to shuck our oysters on the beach in Washington State. How would you recommend preparing raw, shucked oysters prior to putting them in the smoker?