Americans are consuming larger quantities and increasingly more exotic varieties of shellfish in restaurants. Yet most shy away from poaching oysters in their own kitchens.

If you're among those who are hesitant to prepare oysters at home, don't be. You really can make these succulent and delicious aquatic creatures almost as easily as you cook hamburgers. All it takes is some basic know-how and good timing.

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Here is a great oyster recipe from our collection:
General Guidelines for Cooking Oysters


Any oysters that are unresponsive should be discarded. When cooking oysters, the edges of the oysters should start to curl. Overcooking oysters will cause them to shrink.

Cleaning and Shucking Raw Oysters

Some oyster lovers insist that the only way to enjoy them is raw, with lemon juice, vinegar, or cocktail sauce.

To clean and shuck raw oysters:
  1. Scrub oysters thoroughly with stiff brush under cold running water. Soak oysters in mixture of 1/3 cup salt to 1 gallon water for 20 minutes. Drain water; repeat 2 more times.

  2. Place oysters on tray and refrigerate 1 hour to help them relax.

    Refrigerate the oysters for an hour and give them a chance to relax.
    Refrigerate the oysters for an hour and give them a chance to relax.


  3. Shuck oysters. Take a pointed oyster knife in one hand and thick towel or glove in the other. With towel, grip shell in palm of hand. Keeping oyster level with knife, insert the tip of knife between shell halves next to hinge; twist to pry shell apart until you hear a snap. (Use knife as leverage; do not force.)

    Twist your knife to pry the oyster shell apart.
    Twist your knife to pry the oyster shell apart.


  4. Twist to open shell, keeping oyster level at all times to save liquor (the natural juices of the oyster). Cut the muscle from the shell and discard top shell.

    Be sure to preserve the liquor, or liquid, from inside the oyster.
    Be sure to preserve the liquor, or liquid, from inside the oyster.


  5. Cut the muscle from the lower shell, being careful not to spill liquor; do not remove oyster from shell.

    the muscle from the lower shell, but do not remove the oyster.
    Cut the muscle from the lower shell, but do not remove the oyster.
Want more information? Try these:
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.
  • Cooking Seafood: Get your feet wet by exploring the best ways to prepare seafood.
  • Shellfish: From shrimp and lobster to clams, mussels, and more, you'll find valuable information on shellfish at HowStuffWorks.
  • Shellfish Recipes: Dive into the many amazing shellfish recipes featured in this article. 
  • How to Cook Clams: Clams are a mollusk that are only available in the summertime and are delicious when steamed or eaten raw. Learn all about cooking clams here.