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How to Shuck an Oyster

The pros at the raw bar make it look easy, but it’s all about technique—specifically, the precision placement and leverage of your oyster knife.


  • Step 1: Buy oysters Buy oysters the same day you plan on eating them. Store them in ice, and just before you plan to shuck them, place them in the freezer for a few minutes--they’ll be easier to open.
  • Step 2: Rinse and scrub Rinse the oysters under cold running water and scrub them with a brush.
  • TIP: When you’re rinsing the oysters, throw out any that are slightly open and don’t spring closed at your touch.
  • Step 3: Hold the oyster with towel With a towel, hold the oyster on the cutting board with the flatter side up and its hinge facing towards you. Make sure there’s some fabric covering your hand.
  • TIP: If you plan to shuck a lot of oysters, a sturdy oyster glove might be a good investment.
  • Step 4: Locate the muscle Locate a spot near the muscle, which holds the shell together. If you’re holding the oyster with your left hand, the best place to wedge in the knife will be at the 'two o’clock' position. If you’re holding it with your right, it will be at 'eight o’clock.'
  • Step 5: Pop the shell Find a break in the oyster’s seal as close to your spot as possible. Wedge in the blade of the knife--you’ll only need to get the edge in--and twist your wrist, popping the top shell free.
  • Step 6: Discard the shell Discard the top shell (or save it for sea sculpture).
  • Step 7: Free the meat Run the knife beneath the flesh of the oyster to free it from the bottom shell. Be careful not to lose the juice!
  • Step 8: Put oysters on ice Place the oyster on a platter of crushed ice. Shuck the remaining oysters and serve with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, or whatever other condiment you see fit.
  • FACT: Oysters feed themselves by pumping algae-filled water through their body, and an average size oyster filters more than 50 gallons of water a day.

You Will Need

  • Fresh oysters
  • any type
  • Lots of ice
  • A small brush
  • An oyster knife
  • A cutting board
  • A kitchen towel
  • A wide shallow bowl or platter
  • Lemon wedges
  • Oyster glove
  • Cocktail sauce

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