How to Smoke Oysters – Ultimate Guide to Make Smoked Oysters

I have often heard friends say, “the first person to crack open a raw oyster and then decide to eat it must have been really hungry.” At the very least, they were very brave people.

Now, I may not enjoy oysters Rockefeller, but I have discovered that the best way to make food better, aside from adding bacon to it, is to apply the process of smoking to it.

As far as smoking meats goes, this is a relative quick go at it. When inviting friends over for a smoked brisket, you should expect to serve your meat 10-12 hours after you start cooking. But, after you have learned to make smoked oysters, you can begin dining within the hour.

Let’s get you started with the smoker, and the wood.

We operate with an electric smoker for some applications, and an offset wood burner for most smokes. Because of the ease in smoking oysters, we’re going to stick with the offset smoker, it’s just more fun.

So, let's begin telling you how to smoke fresh oysters at home with just a few easy steps.

Before we start with the actual preparing process, you first have to collect a few supplies you will need.

Required Supplies

  • Your Preferred Smoker. (Read Considerations Down Below)
  • Two Pieces of Wood to Smoke With. (Read Considerations Down Below)
  • 48 Fresh Medium Sized Oysters. We are planning on a dozen fresh oysters per guest.
  • Butter, 1 Stick Melted.
  • Garlic, 4 Cloves Minced.
  • Hot Sauce, your personal favorite.
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper, Lemon Quarters.
  • Tray for your Smoked Fresh Oysters.
  • Optional: Oyster Shucking Tool.


There are a few things to consider when you decide to smoke fresh oysters: The type of smoker you use, the type of wood you choose and the type of oyster you pick.

Let's explain each one of this considerations into more details:

The Type of Smoker

Offset Smoker

When it comes to smoking meat, different types of smokers have different instructions and smoking process for each type.

But if you are planning to make smoked oysters, any type of smoker will do. I prefer using an offset smoker. It is my favorite smoker and It's the model I use for every recipe.

Just remember to pick something you are comfortable with and will allow you to regulate and monitor the smoking temperatures easily.

The Type of Wood

Another thing to consider if you want the best result, is the wood type.

While there may be a lot of wood types for smoking, for oysters I recommend you to use a lighter wood, such as alder, apple or peach. Two pieces of this wood type will get this job done.

The Type of Oysters

The last thing to consider, is the type of oyster you buy.

I recommend you to only use fresh oysters when you are planning to smoke them.

To start off, get the amount you need from your butcher or local market. You want to start off with the freshest oysters you can.

You can talk with your butcher who should lead you always getting the best the market has to offer that day. We, actually, suggest that you treat your butcher like a valued member of the family. Birthday cards, and holiday greetings go a long way in this relationship.

Quick Kitchen Tip: Most butchers and seafood markets will assist you with shucking, or steaming your seafood. Discuss with your butcher your cooking wants and needs, and they will usually accommodate your needs from their ‘hands-on experience’.

How to Smoke Oysters

Now, it is time to actually start with the smoking process.

Begin by preparing your smoker and starting the fire in your fire box. You’re aiming for a temperature range of 200°-225°F.

How to Prepare Oysters for Smoking

While the fire is getting started, begin shucking your oysters if your butcher hasn’t done so already for you.

Oyster on the half shell

Image Credits: Plant and Plate

You will want to put the tip of your shucking tool into the back joint of your oyster.

Note: This can be a dangerous task. You may want to purchase a steel glove from your restaurant supply store to prevent any lacerations from the shucking tool or the oyster shell.

Once the shucking tool is in place try to turn the tool with your wrist. There will be some tension from this mollusk. With a second twist and a little pressure, you should manage to get the tip in. Your third twist should get this oyster open.

Note: If you have not a shucking tool, you can read this article for additional tools you can use.

If your initial probe opens the oyster too quickly and very easily, don’t feel lucky. This oyster is probably dead. Discard that oyster, and grab another one to smoke.

Begin to melt your butter, 1 stick, over a low heat. Shuck the top off of each oyster. Using the shucking tool, detach the muscle from the top half and the bottom half. Leaving the oyster in a half shell. Gently rinse the oyster under cool flowing water and then, set each oyster ready to smoke on a clean pan.

Meanwhile, check out your butter, it should be melted, but not browning. Add the minced garlic to the butter, and let it set for a minute.

Hopefully your garlic flavor is infusing into the butter.

Lightly sprinkle the salt and the pepper over the shucked oysters. Now you want to put about one teaspoon of the garlic butter mixture over each half shelled oyster.

Add a log of your chosen wood to the coals, allow the smoke to build.

Watch your temperature, as long as you maintain a variance of 200°F - 225°F, you’re ready to start smoking.

Start Smoking Oysters

Image Credits: Wall Street Journal

After your smoker has reached the recommended 200-225°F cooking temperature, you can put your oysters for smoking.

Place your pan into the grill surface of the smoker. Your placement needs to be close to the thermometer, away from the potential of direct heat. The pan you use should be dedicated to the smoker.

Once you use a pan in a smoker, it becomes seasoned from the smoke, and it’s a major effort to clean thoroughly. With a dedicated pan you can wash and rinse, and not worry about baking cookies on this pan later.

If smoked oysters are going to be regular at your table, restaurant suppliers carry a perforated pan for grilling vegetables and smoking large quantities of things like oysters. Make this a part of your arsenal if you are planning cook this recipe often.

How Long to Smoke Oysters

Now you’re cooking, or smoking! Your cook time for this is going to be quick, relative to other smoking situations.

If you have maintained the recommended temperatures for this recipe, you should check out your oysters after 30 minutes and they should start to feel good. You are looking for something to feel similar to set jello, firm with a little bit of give to it.

If they’re not there after 30 minutes, check again in 15 minutes. At this point you should check every 15 minutes until they’re ready to eat.

When cooking this recipe, remember that oysters are going to go fast, but, keep an eye on your fire wood. You shouldn’t need more than two pieces.

If you’re butter mixture is evaporating, you may be getting the fire too hot, and an overcooked oyster will chew and bounce like a child’s superball.

How to Eat Smoked Oysters

Bring your newest creation to the picnic table. Supply your guests with the lemon wedges to garnish, and your favorite hot sauce.

Image Credits: The Local Palate

Between the garlic, and the smoked flavor you might think this is enough, but a drop or two of the hot sauce will kick it up to a new level.

Serve this with some warm crusty French bread, to sop up the extra garlic and butter mixture. Some carrot sticks and celery sticks with some ranch dressing will allow you to believe you’re eating healthy.

Partner this amazing dish with your favorite bloody Mary, lager, or lemonade, and the most important thing, is to enjoy them!

Final Thoughts

I hope you learned how to smoke oysters at home after finished reading this article.

This recipe is very easy to make, can be prepared in a short amount of time and taste amazing, so there is no reason for not trying them.

If you have any question or just want to leave a comment, feel free to write it down below and don't forget to share this article with your friends if you really liked it.

About Kendrick

Kendrick is an outdoor cooking enthusiast, living in Kansas. He loves to share his passion about outdoor cooking with everyone on various Social Media platforms (Read More)

9 thoughts on “How to Smoke Oysters – Ultimate Guide to Make Smoked Oysters”

  1. That was very helpful, but, I’m still not clear on know when they are done or when they’ve gone chewy. Is it just a matter of practise? Also, you show the finished product on ice, is that necessary (being that they are cooked)? And after smoking oysters, how long can they be kept for eating?

    • Hello,
      a) Actually I have said in the article that “you are looking for your oysters to feel similar to set jello, firm with a little bit of give to it”. That’s the doneness point for me and for most of the people. But, some people may prefer a bit more cooked oysters. It depends on your preferences.
      b) While for the ice part, is not necessary. The shown photos are just as a reference and you can choose to not use ice when serving them.
      c) I prefer to keep in the refrigerator 3-4 days. No more than that. This is actually the recommended refrigerator time for canned smoked oysters but still I apply to fresh smoked oysters just to be sure. The oysters don’t require a lot of time to be smoked, so I always smoke them often and in small quantity.

      If you have any other question, feel free to ask.

  2. I have some frozen oysters and thinking about smoking them, is this something to try or scrap the idea.
    I’m not sure if they were refrozen but the lid doesn’t fit anymore.

    • Hello Karl,
      Although you can smoke frozen oysters without any issue, from what you are saying, your oysters may have gone bad and maybe it is not a good idea to eat them. If the lid isn’t closed, then they might have been refrozen, which is not a good thing for seafood, especially oysters.
      Maybe if you can do some research and analyze if your oysters have gone bad or not would be better.
      Either way, I recommend you to try smoked oysters asap because I’m sure you will love them.
      Cheers, Kendrick.

  3. Hi Kendrick,
    Thanks for the info. I took up smoking meats some 8 months ago in my weber kettle. I was just polishing off a tin of John West smoked oysters & it hit me to smoke my own oysters. So I googled & stumbled onto this article. Thanks for the detailed article. Much appreciated

  4. Getting fresh oysters is hard around here without traveling. I’m interested if I could purchase a jar of NW Pacific oysters in brine and smoke them. Should there be an issue with that?


    • Hello Mike,
      Actually, I have never tried to brine and smoke jarred Oysters, but I based on what I have read online, it is possible to Brine and Smoke Jarred NW Pacific Oysters. Just make sure that they are not pre-smoked or pre-brined before.
      I hope this helps,
      Cheers Kendrick.


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