Oyster Stew

1 lb oysters with liqour
1 large onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 habanero pepper, chopped
1 cup diced smoked ham
24 oz evaporated milk
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

Heat the butter or oil in a dutch oven or large pot. Saute the onion, pepper, potato, celery and ham until the vegetables are softened. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the oysters are cooked through.

My thoughts:

This past weekend we went to the oyster festival in St. Michaels. One of the events was a oyster stew competition. For $5 you got a mug and could try 8 different stews then cast your vote. I honestly had never had oyster stew before but I liked it a lot. There was one that I loved but all of them were pretty similar. They were also pretty rich; lots of cream and butter. Which, to me, overpowered some of the oyster flavor. After the 6th or 7th sample, I even started to feel a little queasy. When I noticed that local oysters were under $7 a pound at our local Safeway, I figured I’d try to make an oyster stew that was both flavorful and not so heavy. To help accomplish that goal, I turned to one of my favorite ingredients: evaporated milk. I love it because, undiluted, it is super creamy and rich tasting but not heavy at all. In this case, I thinned it out with a bit of 2% milk and really liked the result. It didn’t taste “canned” (the biggest fear I find people have about using evaporated milk) and it really let the oyster’s flavor shine through. Some of the stews we tasted had bacon but I didn’t really like the texture it had in the stew and it seemed to make the stew kind of oily. I liked the idea of a smoky flavor so I added some lean ham from one of those spiral sliced hams that are so readily available right now. It did exactly what I wanted: smoky flavor with no extra fat.


  1. Create. Snap. Eat.

    I am sometimes intimidated by oysters, but this recipe is so accessible. And you got the oysters from Safeway?! Thanks for the mention. This is totally duplication-worthy.

  2. Hmmm my favorite restaurant has oyster stew this time of year and it's the best. I've never tried making it at home but I'll have to do so soon – thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!

  3. I like the idea of using evaporated milk instead of cream. I too am not keen on bacon in some dishes, I find it overpowering.

    Sadly, oysters are so expensive here. I might make it with different shellfish though.

  4. This takes me back! When I was a kid we always had oyster stew on Christmas Eve. Thanks for the recipe; both of my parents have passed and I never learned to make it.

  5. This sounds amazing. I love oysters and have never had oyster stew I may have to try making it now!

  6. Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve – Ditto! My dad made the simplest recipe… finely diced celery and onion softened in butter, add cream and oyster liquor until heated through. Add oysters till the edges just start to curl. I never liked it when I was young (opting for a grilled cheese)..but I love these traditions now that I have kids!

  7. I remember making my first oyster soup years ago for Christmas dinner. I like the addition of ham which would add a little salt flavor to the oysters.


  8. This sounds great! The trick will be shucking the oysters and making sure they make it to the pot.. >.>