The Washington Post

Classic Grilled Oysters

Classic Grilled Oysters 4.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Sep 29, 2020

The hardest part about grilling oysters is opening the bivalves. Once you've done that, you can place them on a very hot grill, ladle on your favorite sauce, and watch them sizzle and caramelize. If using a charcoal grill, it’s possible to do a half-dozen batches of oysters over the same fire, but as the coals begin to cool, the oysters will take longer. If you’re planning to grill more than a couple dozen, use a charcoal chimney or chimney starter to get extra coals hot so you can add more briquettes as the fire starts to cool. Long-handled, sturdy tongs and a long-handled ladle are helpful. Sometimes, oysters near the edge need to be moved toward the hotter area of the grill. and the tongs make that easier to maneuver.

Serve these with crusty French bread.

Total time: 35 minutes (does not include shucking the oysters).


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings; as appetizer; makes sauce for 2 dozen large oysters

  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons your favorite hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 24 large oysters in the shell
  • 1 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

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Prepare a grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to high (500 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; once the briquettes are white hot, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 5 inches above the coals for 2 to 3 seconds.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the butter, garlic, hot sauce, paprika and Worcestershire sauce and heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and wait 5 minutes, then add the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine both types of bread crumbs.

Using a shucking knife, open the oysters, leaving them on the half-shell, and carefully place them on a tray without tilting and losing any juices. (If you are new to grilling oysters, do not cut oysters loose from the bottom of the shell. This prevents the oysters from slipping out of the shell if you have difficulty while maneuvering them)

Using tongs, place each oyster on the grill clockwise, starting from the outside and working toward the center, where the fire is hottest. Bigger oysters with thicker shells should go toward the center for greater heat.

Using a long-handled ladle, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the butter sauce on each shucked oyster. (Oysters come in lots of different shapes and sizes, so add more or less as needed.) Using a long-handled spoon, sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture and then the Parmesan over. (The coals will be hot, so, if you don't have long-handled tools, you may want to sauce the oysters first and then carefully place them on the grill.)

Grill the oysters until the oyster juice has almost evaporated, the edges of the oyster begin to curl, and the cheese and bread crumbs start to brown at the edges as does the shell itself. The oysters will not all be done at the same time: Small, thin-shelled oysters may grill in just a few minutes. Large oysters with deeper and/or thicker shells and more liquid may take 5 or 6 minutes.

As the oysters are done, use the tongs to remove the cooked oysters to a heatproof platter.

Serve with fresh lemon wedges, if using, on the side.

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Recipe Source

From chef Miles Prescott.

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (using all the butter): 609

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 50g 77%

Saturated Fat: 31g 155%

Cholesterol: 163mg 54%

Sodium: 564mg 24%

Total Carbohydrates: 25g 8%

Dietary Fiber: 2g 8%

Sugar: 3g

Protein: 13g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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