How to Cook Fresh Oysters on a Barbecue

by Michelle Kerns

In the 1700s, Casanova popularized the idea that eating plenty of oysters could make you a better lover. While no definitive scientific evidence exists to prove that oysters are a natural aphrodisiac, there is no disputing that oysters make for some fine eating, particularly when they are barbecued. Oysters cooked on the grill take on a succulent, smoky flavor and can make a simple, impressive first course or main dish, with or without accompaniment.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill to high with the rack positioned approximately 4 inches from the heat source. Use the soft-bristled brush to thoroughly scrub the oysters in cold running water. Throw out any oysters whose shells are already open.

Place the oysters on the grill with the deeper, cup-shaped portion of the shell face down. Cover the grill and allow the oysters to cook for eight to 10 minutes or until the oyster's shells begin to pop open. Use a fireproof mitt or tongs to remove all the oysters -- even the ones whose shells have not yet opened -- when the first grilled oysters open.

Use a paring knife, oyster knife or screwdriver to completely open each oyster. Pry off each oyster's top shell; this is the part of the shell that will have the cooked oyster attached. Put the remaining bottom shell, which is full of savory juice, in a pan, gently pull the oyster out of the top shell and place it in the bottom shell for serving.


  • Grill only oysters that are tightly closed or those that close when you tap them on a hard surface several times.

    Oysters cooked on the barbecue can be finished with any imaginable topping, from a minimalist squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of melted butter to horseradish sauce, hot sauce, or a whipped-cream mixed with wasabi or salsa.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.