Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible

Chappaquiddick Smoked Oysters

Recipe adapted from Steven Raichlen's Project Smoke

Photo credit: From Project Smoke Episode 206

Smoked oysters used to mean salty, oily bivalves packed in cans like sardines. You likely wrapped them in bacon and broiled them (angels on horseback) or pureed them with cream cheese to make a dip. The modern approach involves fresh oysters—here smoked with nothing more than a simple pat of butter. Think bliss on the half shell and you’ll never think about oysters—fresh or smoked—the same way.

  • Yield: Makes 24 oysters; serves 4 as a light starter, or 2 as a first course
  • Method: Hot-smoking or indirect grilling
  • Equipment: An oyster shucking knife; shellfish grilling rack or wire rack; hardwood of your choice (enough for 20 minutes of smoking)

  • 24 fresh oysters in the shell
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 24 equal pieces (each about ½ teaspoon)

Step 1: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225° to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Step 2: While the smoker is heating, carefully shuck the oysters, discarding the top shells. Pass the knife under each oyster to release it from the bottom shell. Leave the oysters in the shells. Arrange the oysters on a shellfish grilling rack or a wire rack, taking care not to spill the juices. Place a piece of butter on each oyster.

Step 3: Place the rack with the oysters in the smoker. Smoke until the butter is melted and the oysters are warm but not fully cooked, 15 to 20 minutes, or as needed. Serve with grilled bread.


You can also smoke the oysters on a charcoal grill. Set it up for indirect grilling and preheat to 400°F. Arrange the oysters on their rack on the grate. Toss 1½ cups unsoaked wood chips (¾ cup on each side) or 2 wood chunks on the coals. Smoke the oysters as described above, 5 to 8 minutes, or as needed.

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