Holiday Oyster Stew


Angela's Holiday Oyster Stew

Oyster stew is a traditional Christmas Eve meal. I didn't like any of the recipes I found, so I wrote my own. This is an easy stew to make and very satisfying!
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword creamy oyster stew, holiday, oyster stew
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author misangela


  • 1 large shallot, small dice (or two smallish ones) sub about 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 1 med carrot, scrubbed, halved and finely sliced dice if carrot is large; about 1/3 cup
  • 1 med leek, cleaned, halved then finely sliced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, finely diced, about 2/3 cup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced about 1.5 Tbl
  • olive oil for cooking veg, about 1 Tbl
  • 1 tsp each, S/P use white pepper if you prefer
  • 4 Tbl butter I always use salted
  • 4 Tbl flour, any type
  • 1/4 cup sherry optional
  • 1 med lemon, zest and juice about 1-2Tbl juice, to taste
  • 4 cups fish stock sub veg stock
  • 2 Tbl sherry vinegar sub white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 2 Tbl L&P Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbl Frank's Hot sauce or whatever you like
  • 1 16oz container shucked oysters with liquor, cut into bite sized pieces (they are LARGE; 4-5 pc EA) OR 1-2 dozen large freshly shucked oysters (SEE NOTES)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream, up to 3/4 cup, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or crème fraîche optional, but adds thickness
  • 2 Tbl fresh tarragon, minced +/- to taste; sub basil (use HALF for dry)
  • 1 Tbl fresh mint, minced optional but lovely with tarragon or basil (HALF for dry)
  • 2 Tbl fresh parsley, minced adds freshness, use fresh parsley or omit
  • fennel fronds for garnish


  • Do all your prep first. Have all ingredients ready to go.
  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Cover bottom with olive oil and gently sweat shallot, celery, carrots, leeks, fennel and garlic.
  • When veg is translucent, add butter and when melted, add flour. Stir the flour, butter and veg and turn up the heat to med hi while stirring. 
  • Add lemon zest and sherry, stir. Add fish stock and turn up heat to hi. Bring to boil for one minute, reduce to simmer. 
  • At simmer, add sherry vinegar, L&P, Franks and herbs. Taste for S/P levels. Add oysters and liquor. Cook at simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  • Off heat, add cream, lemon juice and sour cream, then check seasoning one more time.
  • Serve with fennel fronds and a swirl of Franks. Toasted baguette is great for this soup. 


Do make an effort to use fresh herbs for this stew. They really do make all the difference.
I use a LOT of tarragon because I love fresh tarragon and it goes so well with fennel. Feel free to dial it back if you don't like that anise flavour. Or omit and use basil instead.
I like a bright taste, so I used about 2Tbl lemon juice. Tune the amount to your taste. SAME with the cream. You want a balance between cream and citrus.
If the stew is too thick, thin a bit with water. Mine was too thin, so I doubled the butter and flour.
The pre-shucked oysters are very large, they were cut into 4-5 pcs EACH. If you shuck fresh oysters, you need about 30-40 pcs, so figure your amount that way.
This recipe makes about 2 quarts. It CANNOT be frozen due to the cream.