International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Oyster Stew

Bowl of oyster stew

(American shellfish stew)

Image by Kent Wang

Average: 5 (4 votes)

Delicious in its simplicity, oyster stew is a traditional Christmas Eve dish in some American households, a custom said to have originated with Irish immigrants.

4 to 6 servings


  • Oysters, with liquor -- 2 pints
  • Whole milk -- 4 cups
  • Salt and white pepper -- to taste
  • Tabasco or cayenne pepper - dash or pinch
  • Butter -- 3 to 4 tablespoons


  1. Add the oysters, their liquor and the milk to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and just bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Remove from heat when the edges of the oysters begin to curl, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Season with salt, white pepper and a dash of hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne. Serve in individual bowls and top each serving with a pat of butter.

Oyster Stew Variations

  • For a richer version, use 3 cups of milk and 1 cup of half-and-half or cream.
  • If you prefer, start by lightly sauteing 1/4 cup of minced onion or leek and 2 to 3 tablespoons minced celery in the butter. Add the oysters, their liquour and the milk and proceed with the recipe.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley or a sprinkling of paprika if you like.
  • Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce or a splash of dry sherry for extra flavor.


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