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Baked oysters with shallot herb butter and prosciutto are party-ready in no time. Special enough for NYE or date night, easy enough for every day.
Why we love this recipe
Baked oysters with shallot herb butter and prosciutto hit the sweet spot between impressive-looking deliciousness and surprising ease. They’re:
- Decked out with bright, savory flavors just enough to make them shine
- Without distracting from the oysters’ natural perfection
- Prep-ahead friendly
- Just a real showstopper
I first published this recipe here back in 2016 — you can see a bit of the original text about holiday cocktail parties below. I’ve since updated the post for clarity and tweaked the method.
What you’ll need
Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make baked oysters.
- You can make this recipe with impeccably fresh oysters of any variety. I live in the northeast of the U.S., where we’re very lucky to have quite a few large, briny, hyper-local varieties. I’d recommend learning about your own local options, if any, and otherwise buying from a purveyor you trust.
- Butter plays a big role in this recipe, so use a good one. I always try to use a cultured, salted butter from grass-fed cows. This sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be. Kerrygold, for example, is sold at many supermarkets in the U.S. for a reasonable price and ticks all the boxes.
- For the fresh herbs, I’ve suggested a combination of basil and parsley — but you can substitute or incorporate other soft leafy herbs that complement seafood, like dill, chervil, chives, sorrel, or even a little bit of thyme.
- You don’t need a lot of prosciutto to make a big impact on the flavor and appearance of this dish. A couple of thin slices are all it takes. This recipe is also great without it, if that option suits you better for any reason.
How to clean oysters
One at a time, hold oysters under cold running water. Scrub with a firm-bristled brush to remove all grit from the exterior, then set right-side-up on a baking sheet filled with crushed ice. There will inevitably be a bit of sand trapped in the hinge, which you’ll encounter while shucking — there’s nothing you can do about it at this stage. When you find it later, know that you haven’t done anything wrong.
How to shuck oysters at home
Shucking oysters at home can feel intimidating at first, but with a few simple tips and a little practice, you’ll find it fun and empowering, promise. It’s one of those super-useful party tricks that will serve you for life. Here’s what to do. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- First you’ll identify the top and bottom of the oyster. The top shell is flat, and the bottom is cupped. This is more obvious on some oysters than others, but there’s always at least some difference between top and bottom. Orient the oyster right-side-up so you won’t lose the delicious liquor inside when you open it. Then you’ll find the hinge and insert the tip of the knife into it. You’ll need to use a combination of knowledge and strength to identify exactly where and how far to insert — you’ll quickly get a feel for it as you practice.
- Once the knife is inserted far enough to create a useful lever that will open the shell rather than chipping off bits of it, you’ll give the handle a good, strong twist to pop the hinge open. This is where you’ll encounter an extra bit of grit, so wipe the tip of the knife clean on your towel before proceeding.
- Insert the clean knife tip between the top and bottom shells near the opening you created, and run it all the way around the edge to loosen the top shell from the bottom.
- Detach the oyster from the top shell by scraping the muscle with the knife, and discard the top shell. Then use the knife to detach the oyster from the bottom shell, too. Do your best to keep it level so you won’t spill too much of the liquor.
Shucking & serving tools for baked oysters
Here are my favorite basic tools for oysters:
- Any firm-bristled scrub brush for food will work well. Here’s the one pictured in the video.
- The OXO knife has a nice, soft handle that helps prevent blisters if you’re shucking a lot of oysters at once
- No-nonsense dish cloths or towels help protect your hands and can head straight to the washing machine when you’re done
- Cut-resistant gloves are a nice insurance policy
- To bake oysters, you can 100% just use a rimmed half sheet pan or cast iron skillet with a bed of kosher salt. Or use a cast-iron oyster grill pan like the one pictured here.
How to make it
Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a gorgeous batch of baked oysters with shallot herb butter and prosciutto. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- You can choose between shucking the oysters first and preparing the shallot herb butter. I like to do the butter first and give it a chance to sit whilst I shuck. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the shallot and cook until softened. Off the heat, stir in the herbs and lemon zest.
- Shuck the oysters, leaving the liquor in the shells, and arrange them in a regular pan on a bed of kosher salt, or in a pan like the one you see here.
- Spoon the butter over the oysters. Bake for 10 minutes in the center of a 400°F oven, until just barely done. The residual heat will cook them a bit further.
- Add a bit of chopped prosciutto and a bit of lemon juice to each baked oyster and serve right away.
Expert tips and FAQs
More favorite seafood appetizers
- Oysters with mignonette granita
- Truly the best shrimp cocktail ever
- Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp
P.S. A perfect holiday cocktail party
I love a good holiday cocktail party, don’t you? It doesn’t have to be anything tooooo fancy — better if it’s not, in fact. But a little bit of an excuse to feel pretty, be festive and have fun is always a good thing.
(Introvert real talk: an hour before getting ready, I rue the day I committed to a party like this, whether hosting or attending. But upon arrival everything changes, and I’m always beyond glad to have made it happen.)
I won’t lie. I love getting together with friends, but a nearly equal measure of holiday party happiness for me comes from great food and drink.
That said, it’s a busy time of year at a busy time of life. And even though I truly love to cook, nurturing that love involves pacing myself rather than cooking to death all the time. So a perfect holiday cocktail party might go something like this:
Assemble a show-stopping cheese board in 15 minutes. Consider one signature cocktail for the event (maybe this one). Buy a mixed case of good, affordable wines. Ask a few guests to bring bite-sized desserts of their choosing. Cook just a few things, most of which can be made ahead of time, and only one of which is a bit of a production. How about:
- Some veggies and a five-minute dip that accommodates many dietary restrictions
- Something hearty in the guise of something elegant, like mac and cheese baked in mini muffin tins
- One truly special dish (hello, baked oysters) to finish up at the last minute, like the stunner of an oysters recipe that you see here.
For more information, please see more information about How to roast oysters in the oven