Oyster Stew

Oysters, along with clams and lobsters, have been harvested and relished by Native Americans along the Atlantic coast from very early times. When the English colonists arrived on the shores of North America, they recognized the richness of the sea in the abundance of the excellent, large oysters. It’s thought that the Indians taught the settlers how to tong or secure the bivalves with leather, and to dry them for winter food. Oysters were the most popular seafood along the Eastern seaboard during the nineteenth century, with oyster saloons serving raw and roasted oysters. Timeworn cookbooks have recipes for oyster stew, oyster soup, oyster pie, and oyster stuffing. For oyster lovers like me, this oyster stew is irresistible.–Diane Morgan

Oyster Stew Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 6


  • 1 pint (about 30) extra-small shucked oysters in their liquor
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  • 1. Drain the oysters through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a small bowl to catch the oyster liquor. Set the oysters aside. Reserve the liquor.
  • 2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and celery salt. Add the oysters and bring to a simmer. Cook just until the edges of the oysters curl. Add the oyster liquor to the pan and return to a simmer.
  • 3. Add the milk, cream, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, but do not let the oyster stew boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • 4. Ladle the oyster stew into a warmed tureen or individual bowls, garnish with the parsley, and serve hot.

    Do Ahead: Although it can be gently reheated successfully, oyster stew is best when made right before serving. Have everything measured and ready to cook—the stew is super simple to put together.
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