Sauces for Fresh Oysters

Buy them shucked or shuck them yourself. Either way, fresh oysters on the half shell are great to eat and fun to serve at home. Whether you're a seasoned oyster eater looking for new ways to top these tasty bivalves or an oyster neophyte wondering how to serve these succulent treats, try these easy and delicious toppings next time you eat oysters.

  • 01 of 07

    Cocktail Sauce

    A cook shucking oysters

    Philip Gould / Getty Images

    Cocktail sauce is probably the most traditional topping. Plenty of oyster lovers claim cocktail sauce overpowers the delicate flavor of oysters. For some, that's exactly what they're looking for.

    You can buy cocktail sauce, but it's so easy to it make yourself. All you need to do is add jarred or freshly grated horseradish to ketchup to taste (start with about 1 tablespoon horseradish to 1/4 cup ketchup). Stir well and serve it cold.

  • 02 of 07

    Lemon Juice

    Fresh Lemons
    Molly Watson

    It is beyond simple, but a spritz of fresh lemon juice brings out the crave-worthy briny flavor that makes oysters such a hit with those who love them. Keep an eye out to avoid letting the lemon seeds land in the oyster. When you spritz lemon juice on truly fresh oysters, you may even notice them twitch a bit when the acid hits them. Slurp them up.

  • 03 of 07

    Mignonette Sauce

    French mignonette sauce with oysters

    Chris Lishman / Getty Images

    It may sound fancy, but the mignonette sauce is easy to make. Combine a finely minced shallot with about 1/4 cup champagne vinegar and add salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Let people drizzle mignonette sauce on their oysters and, to follow the French tradition more fully, offer thinly sliced rye bread and fresh butter alongside.

  • 04 of 07


    A bowl of fresh pesto
    Molly Watson

    The bright flavor of fresh basil that defines pesto, along with the richness from pine nuts, ​a sharp bite of garlic, and acid kick of lemon juice is a surprisingly lovely match with raw oysters. Make a batch of homemade pesto then thin it with lemon juice. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and dollop it onto oysters. It's not conventional, but it's darn tasty.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Serrano Chile Lime Sauce

    Fresh green chiles

    Gabriel Perez / Getty Images

    For those looking for a little kick and a little something different, try this spicy twist on the traditional mignonette sauce. To make a spicy sauce, mix 1 small finely minced serrano chile (discard the seeds to tame the heat, if you like) with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Add salt to taste and some finely chopped cilantro, if you like.

  • 06 of 07

    Spicy Mignonette Sauce

    Spicy mignonette sauce
    Molly Watson

    For adventurous eaters, combine the classic mignonette sauce and nuoc cham, the spicy Vietnamese sauce, together in this recipe. It's amazing on raw oysters, but also truly shines when drizzled over grilled oysters. Peel and mince 1 small shallot and stir it into 1/2 cup cider vinegar, along with 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons red chili flakes, and salt to taste. A bit of fish sauce is good, too. 

  • 07 of 07

    Tabasco Sauce

    Freshly shucked oysters and Tabasco sauce

    Hybrid Images / Getty Images

    The vinegary, spicy tang of Tabasco, or similar vinegar-based chile sauces, meshes well with the underlying mineral-y sweetness that makes oysters so irresistible.