There's nothing quite like crispy fried oysters. The crispy, salty exterior pairs perfectly with the juicy, briny interior of the oyster. When done right, they're irresistible.
I love oysters. Southern Fried Oysters, Fried Oysters, Oysters Rockefeller, Grill Oysters, Smoked Oysters...<Insert Forest Gump Sound Bite Here> 🙂 The list goes on and on...
Yet, I have to say Southern Fried Oysters are the winner in my book, and every other option is a very close second.
If there's one tip to frying oysters at home, source the freshest oysters you can find. Shucking them yourself is a great way to control the freshness. Advice on opening the oyster shells, place each oyster into boiling water for 20 seconds, which causes the oyster abductor muscle holding the shell closed to relax, making it easier to shuck.
⬇️ Table of Contents
🦪 Southern Fried Oysters
When you take something as beautiful as a freshly shucked oyster and decide to fry it, everyone becomes an instant winner at the dinner table.
The entire world loves fried food, and every country does it well.
There are a few things that make fried oysters so special. First, they're usually fried in a cornmeal batter, which gives them a unique crunch. Second, they're often served with a dipping sauce or condiment, which adds another layer of flavor.
Some people say that fried oysters are an acquired taste. But once you've acquired a taste for them, there's no turning back! These little bites of heaven are crisp and succulent on the inside, making them the perfect finger food for any occasion.
Oysters are known for many interesting properties like,
🥘 Fried Oyster Ingredients
- Freshly Shucked Oysters (24oz)
- All-Purpose Flour + Magic Flour Mix (on the recipe card)
- Cornmeal; or a mix of cornmeal + panko breading
- Creole seasoning Tony's or Old Bay seasoning
- Garlic Salt
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Thyme
- Onion Powder
- Fresh-Cracked Black Pepper
- Sea Salt
- Hot Sauce (Cholula)
Amounts listed on the recipe card
How To Fry Oysters
There are a few things to think about when frying. The first would be freshness. When you fry food, the oil creates a barrier seal around the food you're cooking, like a wall. The effect of frying at a high temperature keeps the oil out. Low-temperature frying, the oil leaks into the fried oyster, creating sogginess.
Tip: If your oysters are not fresh when frying, the cooking process will increase any little off-putting smells. This happens because of the perfect wall coating created around the oyster, keeping oil out and keeping the scent on the inside.
💭 Tips For Deep Frying Oysters
Do the Sniff Check - Seafood Should Smell Like The Beautiful Sea
- The next thing to be concerned about is the temperature of the hot oil. Under 300 degrees, the oil will start to leach inside, creating mushiness.
- Over 375 degrees will cause discoloration and move into the burnt flavor category.
- Be sure to rinse the oysters—super fresh oysters, maybe not.
- Marinade in buttermilk, 20 minutes.
- Do not use regular all-purpose flour. For The Magic Flour Mix, See the Recipe Below.
- Frying: Use vegetable oil, a high-smoke oil that offers no flavor, or you can use peanut oil for maximum flavor. Peanut oil has a very high smoke point.
- High Smoke Point oil helps the oil not become oxidized and burnt in flavor.
- Fry using cast iron has many benefits, mainly even cooking temperatures.
Fresh oysters, shucked by hand:
A good rule of thumb is that the oysters will be great for serving raw if freshly shucked. When laying out the oysters to serve, add at least one dozen raw oysters on the half-shell, often as an appetizer starter. This offers your family and friends a clear message of how fresh the oysters are.
Freshly Shucked Oysters Technique
Here is a technique for shucking oysters that many people find helpful.
- First, you will need an oyster knife.
- Place the oyster on a flat surface with the hinge facing up. Insert the knife into the hinge, and twist the knife to pop open the oyster.
- Pry the two halves of the shell apart, and cut the muscle that holds the oyster to the shell.
- Discard the top shell, and enjoy your fresh oyster!
Raw Oyster Health Warning: There is a health warning about eating raw oysters. It is important to remember that oysters can contain harmful bacteria, including Vibrio Vulnificus. This bacteria can cause serious illness, including death, in some people. Anyone who eats raw oysters should take steps to reduce their risk of infection, including washing their hands thoroughly and cooking the oysters.
Tip: Next time, try using lime instead of lemon. I can almost promise you'll never use lemons on raw oysters again. Take the challenge…👨🍳
🥗 What To Eat With Fried Oysters
Chef Pennington loves taking saltine crackers, placing an oyster on top, then adding a touch of horseradish and cocktail sauce. Serve with both fried oysters and raw.
Talking about side items, good options to eat with oysters are as follows:
- Fried Calamari
- Shrimp Diablo
- Tartar Sauce
One of Nature's Natural Beauty - Oysters
On Mother's Day, I was fortunate to be with my Mom. She loves Fried Oysters, so I just had to make them. She rates these Oysters at the top of her list - Soon to possibly become your favorite fried oyster recipe.
How To Get Fresh Oysters
The best way to source fresh oysters is by working with a trusted seafood supplier. When looking for a seafood supplier, it is important to consider factors such as location (oyster species), price, and product quality. Once you have found a reputable supplier, you can work with them to ensure you get the freshest oysters possible.
If you're interested in learning more about oysters, visit our complete post covering Types of Oysters from A to Z.
📖 Fried Oysters Without Buttermilk
The buttermilk offers a hint of tang in the best of ways. But if you're looking for substitution, here's a list of options to try.
- Almond Milk - Add one tablespoon of cornstarch to get the right consistency. This will make the almond milk thicker. The marinade will help the dry fry ingredients stick.
- Coconut Milk - is a good option to match the consistency of whole buttermilk. The sweetness in the coconut milk will bring out some of the oysters' natural sweetness.
- Whole Milk - this option works but is thinner than buttermilk. I would suggest adding a small amount of cornstarch to get the consistency close to that of buttermilk.
Do You Rinse Oysters Before Frying?
Some people drain and rinse, and others don't see a difference, so it's up to you. If you have particularly sandy oysters, give them a quick rinse in cool water before cooking.
If you're using fresh oysters, open them just before cooking. All the oysters need is a quick rinse under cold water.
Once your oysters are open, it's time to start frying them.
How Many Oysters Can I Eat in One Sitting?
This depends on how big the oysters are and how hungry you are. However, a good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to about 6-12 oysters per sitting.
How Do I Store Fresh Oysters?
There are a few ways to store fresh oysters. One option is to store them on a damp paper towel in the fridge. Another option is to store them in a container with a little bit of water. You can also store them in a container with ice. Whichever way you choose to store them, make sure that they are covered so that they don't dry out.
Bonus Recipe: Oysters Rockefeller
Recipes To Try
- Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken - Grandma's Way
- Crispy Chicken Piccata
- Bacon Pepperoni Sticks with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch
- Red Quinoa Crab Salad w/Avocado Crema – So Good & Healthy
- How To Clean Crab Fine Dining Style
📖 Recipe Card
- Oysters - Freshly Shucked (Freshly Shucked Everywhere sells them slightly differently; that's okay. The flouring mix works for all amounts, double when needed. Buy local oysters when possible.) 24 oz
- All-Purpose Flour (Magic Flour Mix for a cup: Ingredients - Use ⅔ C of AP Flour & ⅓ C of Corn Starch) 1 cup
- Cornstarch ⅓ cup
- Cornmeal 2 ½ cup
- Cajun Seasoning (Tony's or Old Bay) 2 Tablespoon
- Paprika 1 ½ Tablespoon
- Garlic Salt (If watching your salt intake, use garlic powder.) 1 Tablespoon
- Onion Powder 1 Tablespoon
- Dried Oregano (Crush in the palm of your hand to release the natural oils) 2 teaspoon
- Thyme - Dried (Crush in the palm of your hand to release the natural oils) 1 teaspoon
- Black Pepper 1 teaspoon
- Sea Salt (To Your Taste) 2 teaspoon
- Buttermilk (Whole milk / Half & Half will work) 2 cup
- Hot Sauce (Cholula) (The hot sauce does not make the oysters spicy. Adds additional flavor. Often used when marinading fried chicken.) 2 Tablespoon
- Refrigerator for 30-40 minutes (The natural acids in the buttermilk will bring flavor and help the flour stick better than normal milk) 1 tip
Preparation & Marinating Of The Oysters
- Rinse off the oysters under cool running water. (If the oysters are super fresh, you can skip this step). Place the rinsed oysters into a bowl.
- Combine the buttermilk and favorite hot sauce like Cholula hot sauce (link in notes below). So good. Not like Tabasco hot sauce in flavor. Much better in my opinion.Cover the oysters with the marinade, then into the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Not overnight, the natural acids in the buttermilk will break down the oyster texture too much.
The Dry Ingredients
- Mix all dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.1 cup All-purpose flour + ⅓ cornstarch + 2 ½ cup cornmeal + 2 T creole seasoning + 1 T garlic salt + 1 T onion powder + 2 teaspoon dried oregano + 1 teaspoon thyme + 1 teaspoon black pepper + 2 teaspoon salt. Chef Tip: After mixing the dry ingredients, take a taste of the flour mixture. Does it taste too much like flour or cornmeal? Then adjust and add more seasoning based on what you think it needs. You can always cook a small test batch and then adjust the seasoning. This is how restaurant chefs balance out dishes.TSA: Taste. Season & Adjust
Dredging For Frying The Oysters
- Add the oysters straight from the marinade (do not rinse) and place them straight into the cornmeal mixture / dredging flour mix. Crispy/Thickness Options:1) The photo on the post = wet (marinade), then the oysters are added to the dry (flour), then into the fryer.2) A thicker outside crust. Repeat option 1) above twice. Double dredge and fry.
- Plan Ahead Option: You can dredge and flour the oysters in advance, place them on a cookie sheet, and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry. (max prep time: 30 minutes in the refrigerator). Be sure to cover the cookie sheet first with a good amount of cornmeal to avoid sticking.
Oil For Frying
- A high smoke point oil is needed when frying oysters.I like using peanut oil or canola oil to fry oysters.Tip: If the oil does get too hot and exceeds the smoking point, there is no saving the oil. The flavor will be rancid and not useable. Start over... Google the "smoke point" of whichever oil you choose. Never exceed the max temperature of the oil.
- Add enough oil to the pot to cover the oysters; the oysters need to be in the oil, not floating on top of the oil. At least 4 inches of oil in the pot. You are "deep" frying the oysters. If you're low on oil, use a pot that isn't as wide and is deeper.
- Preheat to 360 degrees (medium-high heat), testing with a candy thermometer or temperature probe. The temperature will drop as soon as the first batch of oysters goes in, so keep an eye on the frying temperature. This is why we start at 360 and not 350.Tip: Do not overcrowd the pot, or the temperature will drop too much, and the oysters will not get crispy but muddy and soggy full of oil. Manage the oil temperature, do not overcrowd the pot.
- Suggestions: Test fry a few oysters to test the oil temperature before committing all your delicious oysters to the fryer.
- Tip: Have a large plate with paper towels all laid out and ready to go before you begin frying. Place the oysters on the paper towels straight from the fryer.
- Immediately after coming out of the fryer, sprinkle the oysters with sea salt.
- Use a high smoke point oil.
- Do not exceed the maximum smoke oil temperature.
- Perform the sniff test for freshness. The oysters should smell clean and that of the ocean.
- Taste the raw flour dredge to check for seasoning.
- Salt the oysters once out of the frying oil.
- Suggested hot sauce for the marinade: Cholula Hot Sauce
📖 Recipe Card
- Oysters 1 dozen
- Bread Crumbs 1 cup
- Creole Seasoning 2 tablespoon
- Bacon (cooked) 4 slices
- Celery Leaves (chopped ) ¼ cup
- Chervil (chopped) ¼ cup
- Parsley (chopped) ¼ cup
- Olive Oil 2 tablespoon
- Spinach ¼ cup
- Lemon (juiced) 1
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
Presentation & Finishing
- Rock Salt (/ place roasted oysters on the rock salt on a large serving plate. )
- Pernod (optional) 1 tablespoon
- Parmesan Cheese (optional)
- In a heavy, round, ovenproof baking dish, spread enough rock salt to make a 1-inch layer. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, combine bacon, celery, chervil, green onions, parsley, and spinach. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with lemon juice and optional Pernod. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs with oil and creole seasoning; season with salt and pepper.
- Carefully open the oysters and discard the top shell. Drain liquid, loosen the oyster, and remove any grit or sand. Push oyster shells firmly into the rock salt. Top with greens mixture, then with bread crumb mixture. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until bread crumbs are lightly golden brown. Serve immediately, directly from the baking dish.