Skip to Content

Oyster Stew Recipe

This easy Oyster Stew Recipe has been handed down through the generations in our family. Just four ingredients and it’s absolutely delicious!

Oyster Stew Recipe

Oyster stew is a traditional Christmas Eve dish where variations play a part in menus across the United States. The tradition is originally attributed to Irish Catholics on Christmas Eve but many Italian families have also had oyster stew as part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. No matter the origin, Christmas Oyster Stew has become an American tradition and this recipe is perfect on Christmas Eve or any night year-round.

More recently it turns out tinned oyster stew is perfect for “tinned fish date night” and has been deemed the unofficial “Hot Girl Food.”

Oyster Stew Ingredients

There are just 4 ingredients in this oyster stew – and three of them are common ingredients.

  • Canned Oysters: Tinned or canned oysters are already cooked which makes this recipe incredibly easy. I used boiled oysters but choose smoked if you prefer a smokey flavor.
  • Milk: I recommend using whole milk and not substituting it with a lower fat alternative. Whole milk is less likely to curdle when heated.
  • Butter: Butter adds a warm, rich flavor to the milk-based broth.
  • Half & Half: This provides a light creaminess to the broth.
  • Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste: To enhance and add to the other flavors in the soup.

(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)

How to Make Oyster Stew

Oyster stew couldn’t be easier to make. It’s almost as simple as opening up a can and heating it! This particular version is as simple as making oyster stew gets: just heat a can of oysters in a pan along with a little butter, milk and half & half.

Season well to taste and enjoy.

Fresh or Canned Oysters

Canned oysters are either fresh or smoked, have been cooked to a safe temperature, and can be eaten right out of the can. Canned oysters have nearly the same nutritional value as raw or fresh ones but they’re higher in calories, fats, and sodium than fresh oysters. However, they have more protein, calcium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and Vitamin A.

Canned oysters will be slightly less flavorful than fresh oysters but they’re much easier to find, not as expensive and this recipe can be made in 10 minutes tops. Plus, no shucking!

Fresh or jarred oysters can also be used for this recipe. Just simmer a little longer (about 8 minutes) and until the edges of the oysters begin to curl.

Canned Oyster Stew Recipe

What to Serve with Oyster Stew

Oyster stew is typically served with oyster crackers but saltine crackers or soda crackers also work just fine. A French baguette, crostini or crusty bread is perfect for dipping. For a heartier option, you can also serve this stew with a side salad, biscuits or baked or roasted potatoes.

A dry crisp, dry white wine pairs well with oyster stew. Here are a few good wine choices for pairing:

  • Muscadet and other
  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Champagne
  • California Brut Rosé
  • Sancerre


Oyster stews go by many names including Virginia, Maryland, New England, French, Southern and Pacific. Here are some variations to try with this recipe.

  • Make it like a chowder and add some potatoes.
  • Add diced celery, onions or garlic.
  • Make it spicy with a little cayenne pepper or hot sauce, to taste.
  • Add a salty, umami flavor with Worcestershire sauce.
  • Garnish with parsley.
  • Dash some Cajun seasoning for a southern flavor.
  • Balance the rich broth with green onions, shallots, chives, parsley or fresh herbs.

Slow Cooker Oyster Stew

Prepare the stew in a slow cooker by adding all the ingredients and cooking on high for 1 to 1/12 hours, stirring occasionally.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Leftover oyster stew can be kept in a fridge for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container. I do not recommend freezing oyster stew as the milk-based broth may “break” or separate when thawed.

Reheat leftover oyster stew on the stovetop over low heat, until warmed through.

This Brunswick Stew is another delicious comfort food soup choice for a cold-weather meal!

Canned Oyster Stew Recipe

Oyster Stew Recipe

Yield: 2-3 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Oyster stew is a classic dish that will always have a place at the dinner table. In New England, oyster stew is a Thanksgiving must-have and in Virginia this recipe is typically made on Christmas Eve. This oyster stew recipe is for the rest of us, made in just 10 minutes with canned oysters that can be found in any grocery store. Super quick and easy!


  • 1 8- ounce can of oysters, do not drain
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half & half
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat all ingredients in a pan over medium heat until very hot (do not boil). Season to taste and serve immediately.


To keep the stew from curdling don't let the soup get too hot, keep at a medium heat and watch closely.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 297Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 377mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 20g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

I’m so excited and proud to share my mom’s easy Oyster Stew recipe with you! I’m sharing it with a lot of pride and a lot of love for a woman who taught me that food and family dinner time means more than simply nourishing our bodies; it also nourishes our souls. And, for that lesson, I will be forever grateful.

{The photo below is the actual recipe card that my mom wrote out years ago. She’s given it to me for safekeeping and I will pass it on to my own girls one day!}

Oyster Stew Recipe Card
Kristy Bernardo
Latest posts by Kristy Bernardo (see all)

Lori Ball

Sunday 16th of December 2018

I have been looking for a recipe that was like my mom's oyster stew for a few days. Thus is as close as I can get but she added some worsheshester sauce. I know I spelled that wrong but I think it was only a few dashes up to a teaspoon. Thank you so very much. Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Saturday 31st of March 2018

I hope this Oyster Stew recipe is half as enjoyable as the well-written story that came with it. My Mom made oyster stew every New Year's eve. She ate the broth, Dad and shared the oysters (in the 60s and early 70s). Thank You!

Kristy Bernardo

Saturday 31st of March 2018

I love this, Jeff! Thanks so much for sharing. Cheers :)

Deb Hinton

Sunday 31st of December 2017

Had this for dinner tonight. It tasted just like what we had when I was younger. Love it! I doubled everything and added 2Tbsp of butter. It was perfect. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It is a keeper.

Kristy Bernardo

Wednesday 3rd of January 2018

This is great! It's such a simple but dear recipe to me and I love that you enjoyed it. Thanks, Deb, and Happy New Year!

Mexican Salad with Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto -

Friday 8th of May 2015

[…] town in Northern Minnesota. I shared the special memories I have when my mom and I would share Oyster Stew, just the two of us. I still find it fascinating that in 1900 we ate 98% of our meals in our homes […]

Amy at Very Culinary

Thursday 23rd of April 2015

I have super fond memories of helping my mom make egg rolls and pot stickers from scratch. It was like an assembly line and I would help her all day. Only me, not my sister. I love oysters and how incredibly simple this soup is. Pinned!

Kristy Bernardo

Wednesday 29th of April 2015

What a great memory, Amy! Those are things you can never trade, so special.

Skip to Recipe