Baked Oysters are a great appetizer for entertaining or as a main meal. They’re easy to prepare and are made with just a few simple ingredients. Make them for your next party or holiday meal!
Oysters are a classic seafood dish that can be prepared in many different ways. We love baking them in the oven because they have a great flavor and texture. When baking, there is no risk of overcooking and drying them out if baked at a lower temperature over a longer time period.
Raw oysters can be baked with spices, seasonings, or breadcrumbs on top. This baked oysters recipe makes lemon garlic baked oysters which adds a pop of freshness and acidity along with classic garlic flavor.
They go great with a classic baked potato and a fresh salad as a main meal, or they can be served to guests as a decadent appetizer for a party or as part of a holiday meal!
This recipe is naturally gluten free.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s a quick and easy dish perfect for entertaining and is great for a New Year celebration.
- Baked oysters are delicious baked with lemon and garlic butter.
- These versatile baked oysters can be served in the shell or on the half shell.
- They can also be enjoyed as a main meal when paired with your favorite side dishes.
Ingredients & Equipment
- Lemon Juice & Zest – Keeps the oysters fresh and adds an acidic tart flavor.
- Room Temperature Butter – Room temperature butter will melt and mix evenly with the lemon juice, zest, garlic, and parsley to make a flavorful whipped butter.
- Minced Garlic – Adds a zesty garlic flavor to the whipped butter.
- Minced Parsley – Gives the butter a pop of green color and fresh garden taste.
- Salt & Pepper – Also added to the butter, salt, and pepper enhance the flavors of the oysters.
- Oysters – You’ll need unshucked fresh oysters to make this recipe. Purchase them from a good quality source and keep them in the fridge until ready to use.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – Minced parmesan cheese is baked with oysters to give them a rich cheesy flavor.
- Rock Salt – Rock salt is used to keep baked oysters from overcooking and drying out and also helps cradle the oysters so they don’t move around while baking. It also helps create a nice presentation when served right on the baking sheet with the salt.
- Rimmed Baking Sheet – Used as a way to hold the rock salt which holds the oysters while baking. You can use this to serve the baked oysters, or transfer them to a serving dish out of the oven.
- Oyster Shucking Knife – You will need a sharp oyster shucking knife to shuck the oysters.
Rock salt is a classic part of baked oysters. However, if you don’t have rock salt you can use a crumbled up piece of foil to line the rimmed sheet pan for baking.
How To Properly Shuck Oysters
Oysters can be very dangerous to shuck on your own if not done properly. Always be careful when using a sharp oyster knife and follow these steps:
- Place the towel around your non-dominant thumb and lay an oyster on its side between the folds.
- Gently but firmly push the tip of an oyster knife at an angle into the point of the oyster until you hear a light crack and it begins to leak a little at the edges.
- Cut underneath the oyster shell by working the knife into it. Cut through the muscle that is connected to it until you can take off the top shell.
- Open the top of the shell. Cut that part that is connected to the bottom of the shell. Then, turn over that side so it is loose.
- Pour out a small amount of the oyster liquor (liquid) from the oyster, leaving approximately ½ – 1 teaspoon inside.
- Place the oysters in a pan with salt, then shuck the remaining oysters the same way.
Some oyster knifes or kits come with gloves. We recommend using the gloves to shuck the oyster shells, when possible. Be very careful when shucking oysters as the knife is very sharp.
How To Make Oven Baked Oysters
- Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pour the rock salt on a large baking pan evenly. Set aside for later.
- Prepare the lemon garlic butter: In a medium-sized bowl, whip the room temperature butter until it becomes light and fluffy. Add in the lemon zest, juice, parsley, salt, and pepper, and whip until it’s fully combined. Set aside.
- Clean the oysters: Remove the unshucked oysters from the fridge and scrub them clean with a brush under cold water. Place them on a cutting board and roll up a kitchen towel to make sure your hands are protected. Shuck the oysters.
- Season the oysters: Add the shucked oysters over a layer of rock salt on the rimmed baking sheet. Evenly distribute a dollop of butter on each oyster followed by a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
- Bake and serve: Add the baking sheet of prepared oysters to the oven rack and bake oysters in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until they are lightly brown in color and cooked through. Serve on the baking sheet garnished with lemon wedges or transfer to a platter. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
- Ask your fish monger to shuck the oysters for you. If you’re not confident in your shucking skills, you can ask your fishmonger to shuck the oysters for you. You can also purchase pre-shucked oysters from the grocery store that still include the shell.
- Make baked oysters for a crowd. Simply double or triple the recipe and bake them on two or three large baking sheets.
- Prep and bake ahead. The oysters can be baked a day in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to serve. Just heat them in the oven for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Avoid overcooking the oysters. When baked, oysters will maintain their plump appearance and texture. If you overcook them they can appear shriveled and shrink in size.
- To prevent the juices from spilling over the edge of the pan between shucking and baking, pry open an oyster just until it pops slightly out of its shell. Don’t pry it all the way out or you may break the shell.
- Use other herbs. Try substituting different herbs like thyme, basil, or chives for the parsley.
- Add heat. For a bit of a kick, try adding some red pepper flakes to the butter mixture. Or serve with hot sauce.
- Add panko crumbs. If you want additional texture and crunch, add a sprinkling of panko bread crumbs before baking to create buttered panko crumbs.
- Substitute the cheese. If you don’t have Parmesan cheese on hand, you can substitute Pecorino Romano or another salty hard cheese, like Asiago or Pecorino Sardo.
- Substitute the butter. While butter is best, you can also replace the butter with olive oil or ghee (clarified butter), but make sure it’s unsalted.
- Fry the oysters instead of baking. You can fry baked oysters in a skillet or deep fry them in oil until golden brown.
- For baked oysters Rockefeller, add a small spoonful of creamed spinach to the top of the butter mixture on each oyster.
- Add other flavors and ingredients. You can also try adding other items like bacon, crabmeat, green onions or diced tomatoes. Add a pinch of paprika for more flavor.
The best way to cook baked oysters is cooking them in the oven. These easy baked oysters with lemon garlic butter come together easily after shucking.
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- 3 pounds rock salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
- 2 teaspoons minced parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 to 16 unshucked oysters, left in the fridge until you're ready to use them
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pour the rock salt on a large baking pan evenly. Set aside for later.
- Whip the butter in a medium bowl until it becomes light and fluffy then add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper and whip again until combined. Set aside for later.
- Take the oysters out of the fridge and scrub them clean then place a cutting board on a countertop and rollup a kitchen towel to protect your hands. You can use a stiff brush for cleaning.
- Place the towel around the thumb of your non-dominant hand and place an oyster upside down between the folds of the towel.
- Carefully but firmly push the tip of an oyster knife at an angle into the hinge (the point of the oyster) until you hear a light crack, and it starts to leak a little at the edges. (Be very careful, oyster knives can be sharp and can easily slip while shucking oysters.)
- Work the knife under the shell and sever the muscle that’s attached to the shell until the top is loosened completely.
- Remove the top shell and cut the muscle that is connected to the bottom side then flip the oyster over in the shell to make sure it’s loose.
- Pour out a little bit of the liquid from the oyster, leaving about ½ – 1 teaspoon.
- Place the oyster on the salt in the pan then repeat the shucking process with the remaining oysters.
- When all the oysters have been prepared, add even dollops of the butter mixture on top of each oyster followed by a light sprinkling of parmesan on each oyster.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are lightly browned and cooked through.
- Serve with lemon wedges and freshly chopped parsley for garnish if desired.