How to Open an Oyster

  • 01 of 06

    Clean the Oyster

    cleaning oyster

    Raw oysters on the half shell are a culinary treat. Opening the oysters is a simple task, although it does take a bit of practice:

    • Clean the outside of the oyster under running water to remove any loose grit or barnacles. Rub the shell with your fingers or use a stiff brush if you have one for this purpose.
    • Hold the oyster in a towel or oven mitt with the hinge (pointed side) sticking out. This will protect your hand if the oyster knife slips.
    • With the flat side of the oyster up, insert the tip of an oyster knife near the hinge. You only need to insert the knife about 1/2 inch. ​
    • Do not use a regular knife to open oysters. There is too great a risk of slipping and severely injuring yourself.
    • An oyster knife is a special blunted knife made for this purpose. They're cheap, too. If you're going to buy oysters in the shell, spend a couple extra bucks for the proper knife.
    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Slide the Knife Around the Lip

    sliding knife around lid of oyster
    • Holding the oyster firmly, slide the knife around the lip of the oyster until you reach the other side of the hinge.
    • The oyster should remain level, so you don't lose the liquid inside.
    • Keep the knife inserted about 1/2 inch with the tip pointed slightly up.
    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Open the Lid of the Oyster

    open oyster
    • Keep the oyster level and pry the shell apart with your fingers.
    • Before separating the shells completely, use the oyster knife to detach any muscle that still clings to the inside of the top shell.
    • Remove the top shell.
    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Wipe Clean the Opened Oyster

    oyster wiped clean
    • Carefully wipe away any grit that may be on the inside of the completely opened oyster.
    • Never wash an oyster after it has been opened. This will definitely affect the flavor.
    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Loosen the Oyster

    loosen insides of oyster
    • Use the oyster knife to detach the muscle underneath the oyster from the bottom shell.
    • Be careful not to spill the liquid.
    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Oyster Presentation

    chilled oyster
    • Place the opened oysters on a bed of crushed ice or refrigerate.
    • Serve with lemon wedges or a mignonette sauce (1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 2 shallots finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt).