Smoked Oysters

Smoking oysters at home is easy, and the results put canned smoked oysters to shame. This smoked oyster recipe can be done on a pellet or gas grill, and you can use oysters in their shell or a jar of shucked bivalves from a reputable fishmonger. Smoked oysters make a yummy snack or appetizer.

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a bag of whole oysters.

Growing up near the Chesapeake Bay and now living in South Florida, seafood has always been a big part of my diet. I love fresh fish, shrimp, crab, and oysters. Always oysters. I’ve shared recipes for oysters Rockefeller, deep-fried oysters with remoulade, oysters oreganata, oysters on the half shell, grilled oysters, and countless other varieties.

Every Christmas, my Grandmother, Myne and Aunt Lynne, and Uncle Buck send us a refrigerated package of fresh in-their-shell mollusks from the Rappahannock Oyster Co (not an affiliate, just a fan). It’s something I always look forward to.

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Today, I’m going to show you how to make smoked oysters — and why you’re going to love them!

Why you should smoke your own oysters

Smoking oysters at home gives you the best product. They’re tender, meaty, and briny, with a lightly smoked flavor that’s noticeable but not overpowering. They’re better than store-bought smoked oysters in a can, and you’ll wow your friends and family with a fantastic seafood delicacy.

Making them at home is easy, especially if you have a pellet smoker, and it only takes about an hour of actual smoking time.

The internet abounds with recipes for smoking oysters, so how do you know which is the best? For me, the simplest are the best. One’s that allow the briny, smoky flavor of the shellfish shine. A sauce is fine, but you don’t want them drowning in it. I use the KISS method: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Additionally, when evaluating smoked oysters recipes, it’s essential to look at the photos provided. Do they look plump? Tender? Do they have that mahogany sheen of smoke? If the oysters look shriveled, they’re likely to taste that way too.

The difference between smoking these shellfish at home and buying canned smoked oysters is immense. The flavors are soft and subtle, not fishy like the canned variety, and if you’re squeamish about eating them raw, don’t worry; these mollusks are fully cooked.

Ingredients & equipment you’ll need:

  • Fresh oysters (in the shell or pre-shucked in their brine).
  • Pellet Smoker or gas or charcoal grill set up for indirect cooking.
  • Wood Pellets or Chips (depending on what type of smoker you’re using).
  • Mesh Mat or Wire Rack affiliate link – for smoking (one that the oysters can’t fall through).
  • Oyster Shucker affiliate link- (if using oysters in the shell).
  • Oyster Glove affiliate link – (to protect your hands if you’re shucking oysters).
  • Old (but clean) Dish Towel to hold oysters steady while shucking.

I highly recommend using a pair of oyster gloves (affiliate link) to give you a better grip on the bivalves and protect your hand from mishaps with the oyster knife.

If you’ve never shucked an oyster before, don’t worry. Once you get the hang of it, it’s relatively simple to do.

Before you start, you’ll want to clean and scrub the outside of the oyster’s shell. Use a stiff brush {affiliate link} to loosen any dirt and grit from the surface and rinse it under water. It’s essential to do this, especially if you’re serving homemade smoked oysters in their shell because you don’t want any grit to mar them.

How to shuck oysters

  1. Place the oyster on an old (but clean) dishtowel, with the rounded cup side facing down.
  2. Locate the oyster’s hinge and firmly press the oyster knife into the hinge.
  3. You may need to wiggle the knife to insert the tip into the hinge; once it’s in, twist the knife 90° to open it.
  4. Cut through the adductor muscle that holds the oyster to the shell (top and bottom).
  5. Transfer the shucked oysters to a bowl.

How to smoke oysters on a pellet smoker

  • Add the cherry wood pellets to the hopper and preheat the pellet grill to 180°F or as low as your pellet smoker will go. Once the smoker has reached the proper temperature and is smoking, it’s time to cook the shellfish.
  • Lay the grill mat on the work surface and place the oysters on the mat. Close the lid and smoke the oysters for 50 minutes to one hour. 
  • Use a spatula to transfer the oysters to the prepared oyster shells. Serve.

How to make smoked oysters on a gas grill

  • Soak wood chips in water for one hour, then transfer the chips to a smoker box or create your own by making a tin foil pouch filled with soaked wood chips. Seal the foil, then cut slits or holes over the bag so smoke can escape.
  • Set up your grill for indirect cooking (so that one element of the grill is on and the other side (where you’ll place the oysters is off.
  • Place the wood chip box or pouch so that it rests directly on the grill grates of the side that’s on.
  • When the chips start to smoke, place the oysters on the grill mat opposite the smoker setup.
  • Close the lid and smoke the oysters

Best wood for smoking oysters

Lighter flavored woods such as alder, cherry, and apple wood are best for smoking any seafood. Strong wood like hickory and mesquite would overpower the flavor of the oysters. Avoid them.

What temperature should I smoke oysters at?

If you’re using a pellet smoker or water smoker, cook the oysters at as low a temperature as possible, preferably 180° – 200°F.

If you’re using a gas grill or charcoal grill, it will be tough to maintain a low temperature, which is why it’s recommended to use an indirect heat method for smoking the oysters. Try to get the lit side around 350° or enough to get your wood chips smoking. The ambient temperature will allow the smoke to penetrate the oysters without over-cooking and drying them out.

Are oysters healthy?

Yes! Oysters are relatively low in calories and loaded with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins such as vitamin C, B-12 and vitamin D, and minerals including Iron, copper, magnesium, selenium, and potassium Additionally, their zinc content per 3.5 ounce serving is 555% of the recommended daily allowance..

Snacking on smoked oysters is a much healthier alternative to chips or cookies, and a few of these small but mighty bivalves can keep hunger pangs at bay.

How to serve smoked oysters in their shell:

My preference is to serve smoked oysters in their shell for a beautiful and elegant presentation.

If you want to serve smoked oysters like this, it’s essential to clean the shells first to prevent any cross-contamination (think: raw chicken on your cutting boards).

You can discard the flat shell of the oyster and keep the hollow, cup-side, as it’s best for serving and can accommodate any sauce or garnish you add without running off the side.

To clean the oyster shells:

  • Use a stiff brush to scrub away dirt, sand, or debris, and rinse the shells in fresh cold water.
  • Place the oyster shells in a saucepan and fill the pan with cool water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse the shells with fresh water and turn them upside down to drain and dry on their own.

Once your oysters are smoked, there are many ways to enjoy them.

How to use smoked oysters

  • Serve on the (cleaned) half shell with a sauce or herb butter (recipe given).
  • Garnish a pizza.
  • Serve them on crackers with a spread of cream cheese or whipped feta.
  • Use cream cheese and goat cheese with smoked oysters, worcestershire sauce, chives and black pepper to make a creamy dip.
  • Toss them with pasta, garlic butter, lemon zest and capers.
  • Tuck a few oysters into an omelet with fresh mixed herbs.
  • Add them at the last minute to chowders or seafood soups or stews.
  • Wrap them in par-cooked bacon and broil until the bacon crisps for devils on horseback.


How do I store smoked oysters?

Pack them snugly into a glass jar and cover them with neutral or extra virgin olive oil. Seal the top with a lid and store it in the refrigerator.

How long will smoked oysters last in the refrigerator?

About two weeks.

Can I use any oyster for this recipe?

Yes. I got my oysters from the East Coast (Rappahannock River Oysters), but you can use gulf or pacific oysters as well. I do look for meatier specimens rather than small oysters for this because they tend to shrink as they smoke.

Do the oysters need salt?

No. They have a wonderful smoke flavor that enhances the shellfish’s natural saltiness. Extra salt would overpower, but if you want some, I recommend a light sprinkle of fine sea salt.

More oyster recipes:

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smoked oysters in their shells on a bed of sea salt.
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5 from 5 votes

Smoked Oysters

Home smoked oysters are tender and plump with a lovely, subtle smoke flavor that doesn’t overwhelm. Smoking oysters at home is easy with a pellet smoker to maintain a low, even temperature, but you can make them on a gas grill too. I have instructions for both.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Cajun
Keyword oysters
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Gluten-Free, keto, Low-Carb, Paleo, Pescatarian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 2


  • pellet grill such as Traeger, RecTeq or other
  • alder, applewood or cherry wood pellets or wood chips
  • oyster shucking gloves
  • oyster shucking knife
  • old, clean dish towel that you don’t mind getting dirty
  • perforated grilling mat
  • Pitt Mitt grill glove (for safety


  • 12 oysters in their shell or a pint of shucked oysters


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Creole Seasoning or your favorite hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley



  • Drain the oysters and pick through to make sure there’s no shells or other detritus attached. Skip to the smoking step.


  • Wear the oyster gloves to protect your hands. Rest the oyster, cup side down on the old dish towel to secure it. 
  • Insert the tip of the oyster knife into the hinge of the oyster, forcing it open and twisting to break the hinge. (Wipe the knife off on the towel). 
  • Slide the oyster knife along the top of the shell to disconnect the meat from the top flat shell. Run the oyster knife under the oyster to disconnect it from the shell. Reserve the oyster liqueur for another use. Place the oysters on a plate and refrigerate until you are ready to smoke them.


  • Add the cherry wood pellets to the hopper and preheat the pellet grill to 200°F.
  • Lay the grill mat on the work surface and place the oysters on the mat. Close the lid and smoke the oysters for 50 minutes to one hour.
  • Transfer the oysters to the prepared oyster shells and spoon the butter sauce over them. Serve immediately.


  • If you have oysters in their shells, this extra step will give you a really impressive presentation. After removing the oysters from the shell, transfer the cupped portion of the oyster shell to a large pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 7-10 minutes, then drain the water. Rinse off the shells and dry them. (Boiling the shells will remove any dirt and will prevent cross contamination when you put the smoked oysters back in the shell.


  • Fill a jar with the oysters arranging them in an even layer. Add olive oil unti it covers the oysters. Seal the jar and refrigerate.


YouTube video


Calories: 4kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 13mg | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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a pin of the smoked oysters to save for later.

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  1. 5 stars
    These oysters had a nice soft smoke, but they were still plump and juicy. We served them with cream cheese and crackers.

  2. Christine says:

    5 stars
    They sound phenomenal! I used my last dozen oysters in anoyster stew…may have to order more to try smoking them!