Simple Oyster Stew

Two bowls of Simple Oyster Stew on a table with spoons, a napkin, and glasses of white wine.

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

Folks who grew up on the coast, or visiting family and friends there on a regular basis, understand the simple humble goodness of this no-frills stew. Assembled in minutes using just fresh oysters, milk, salt, pepper, butter, and a little green onion, this stew is incredibly simple, but that’s why it’s so good.

Fresh oysters are the key ingredient here, and the rich liquor inside their shells—don’t settle for anything less than the best. After a quick simmer to meld the flavors, all you need is a spoon and plenty of oyster crackers to enjoy one of the simplest and best Southern seafood suppers you’ll find.


  • 12 oysters in the shell, scrubbed, or 12 fresh shucked oysters in liquid

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, softened

  • 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced scallion (from 1 scallion)

  • Oyster crackers, for serving


  1. Working with 1 oyster at a time, hold it in the palm of your hand with an oven mitt to prevent cutting yourself; position oyster so that curved side of shell faces down and flat side faces up. Insert an oyster or paring knife between shell halves near the hinge. Pry open oyster, and drain liquor into a small bowl. Run knife under oyster to release it from shell; discard shell. Place oyster on a plate. Repeat procedure with remaining oysters. (Alternatively, if using preshucked oysters, place a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl, and drain shucked oysters.) Set oysters and liquor aside.

  2. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until milk begins to bubble around edges of pan and a little bit of steam rises off the surface, about 6 minutes. Stir in oysters and oyster liquor. (If using preshucked oysters, add about 3/4 cup reserved liquor.) Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until oysters just begin to curl and firm up, about 2 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat.

  3. Divide butter evenly between 2 soup bowls. Transfer oysters from pan to bowls using a spoon; carefully pour hot milk mixture over oysters. Sprinkle evenly with sliced scallion. Serve with oyster crackers.

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