How to Grill Oysters and Clams

by Contributor

Oysters, clams and other shellfish are typically steamed, fried or baked, if they're cooked at all, but they're versatile enough to be prepared through many other methods. For example, clams or oysters can be prepared quickly and easily on your backyard grill during barbecue season. Use hardshell clams -- cherrystones, littlenecks or mid-necks -- rather than soft shelled "steamers" or razor clams, which can be tough.

Preheat your gas or charcoal grill to a moderately high temperature, roughly 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Scrub the oysters's shells with a stiff brush, under a cold running water, and rinse well. Rinse the clams as well, then set the shellfish aside on a pad of clean paper towels. Discard any that do not close when handled.

Position the grill's grate 4 to 6 inches above the coals or flame. Arrange the shellfish on the grill, with space between them for the air to circulate. Oysters shells have a deep side and a shallow side. Be sure to arrange them so the deeper side is downward, to retain their flavorful juices when the shells open.

Grill the shellfish until they begin to open on their own. This typically takes 3 to 5 minutes for clams, depending on their size, and approximately a minute longer for oysters.

Transfer the shellfish to serving dishes with tongs or a broad spatula, taking care not to spill the natural juices or "liquor" from their shells. Serve immediately, while they're hot.


  • Allow six to eight oysters per person, or roughly a pound of clams.

    Large shellfish will sit on the grill's grate quite happily, but a grilling basket is best for smaller clams.

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