My Best Easy Southern Crispy Fried Oysters Recipe is for you if you love oysters and want to make five-star, restaurant-quality, golden brown fried oysters at home.
No need to be a trained chef—my easy step-by-step fried oyster recipe and expert tips and tricks guarantee your success.
Don’t wait to savor the mouthwatering bliss of salty, silky oysters coated in a perfectly seasoned, crispy cornmeal crust. Check out my easy recipe today!
Join over 300,000 other oyster lovers and discover why this fried oyster recipe is one of my blog’s best and most popular dishes. With a rich combination of textures and flavors, every bite is pure cornmeal fried oyster bliss. Your taste buds will thank you, and your friends will beg for your secret recipe!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ from Mark: “This is the best fried oyster recipe I have tried! Follow this simple recipe, and you will not be disappointed.”
Quick and easy to prepare, these versatile, breaded, deep-fried oysters are considered a true seafood delicacy.
Like my recipes for Oysters Rockefeller, Buffalo Shrimp, Fried Spanish Mackerel Nuggets, Chicken Egg Rolls, Cheese Quesadillas, and Fried Crab Claws, they can be served as a tasty appetizer or a delicious dinner entrée.
Fried oysters are also ideal for a quick weeknight dinner, a beach fish fry, Fish Friday, or a Sunday seafood supper and are a must-have ingredient on a fried seafood platter.
- 🥘 Why this is the best fried oyster recipe:
- 📋 Ingredient notes and substitutions:
- ♨️ How to fry oysters:
- 🍲 What do fried oysters taste like?
- 💭 Top tip:
- 📖 Recipe Variations:
- 🍽 Where to buy fresh oysters:
- 🍽Do oysters need to be rinsed before frying them:
- 🍽What sides to serve with this recipe?
- 🍽How many varieties of oysters are there?
- 🍽How to keep the breading from falling off:
- 📖 What’s the best oil for frying:
- Leftovers, storage and reheating:
- 💬 Recipe FAQs:
- 💭 More expert tips and tricks:
- 🦐 More seafood recipes:
- 📋 Recipe:
🥘 Why this is the best fried oyster recipe:
- One of the most popular recipes on my blog, this fried oyster recipe only takes minutes to cook, has stood the test of time, and readers have given it a perfect five-star rating.
- I’ve included simple instructions and tips designed to minimize any potential mess from frying, including grease splatter or a fried seafood smell.
- Did I mention it was easy? Simply soak the tasty bivalves in buttermilk, dredge them in seasoned cornmeal breading mix, and then fry in hot oil for two to three minutes. That’s it!
📋 Ingredient notes and substitutions:
- Freshly shucked raw oysters – with their mild fresh sea breeze aroma and natural salinity, are the star of this dish. With modern refrigeration and aquaculture methods, most are farmed, harvested, and available at seafood or grocery stores year-round, shucked or unshucked.
- Buttermilk – is an essential ingredient in this recipe. With its pleasant and characteristic tang and rich taste, buttermilk is the perfect consistency to coat the oysters and help the cornmeal breading stick.
- Cornmeal – made from dried field corn, is another essential ingredient in the breading that adds a distinctive flavor and texture. Cornmeal gives the crispy oysters a delicious extra-crunchy crust and helps them develop a lovely golden brown color. You can use either yellow or white fine cornmeal.
- All-purpose flour – combines with cornmeal to create the breading.
- Creole seasoning, along with kosher salt – seasons the cornmeal breading, provides a touch of spice and enhances all of the flavors. Cajun seasoning may be substituted for Creole. Creole seasoning contains more herbs, while Cajun has a blend of ground peppers, so it has a bit more kick.
- Peanut oil – is the oil of choice for frying in the South, and for good reason; it has a neutral taste, and you can cook foods at high temperatures without smoking. If you are looking for a good substitute, both vegetable and canola oil work, too.
(A complete list of ingredients and measurements is listed in the recipe below.)
♨️ How to fry oysters:
- Pour the shucked oysters into a colander or strainer and let them drain. I don’t usually rinse mine, but if you prefer, rinse them with cold water to wash off debris or shell fragments and let drain.
- Pour the buttermilk into a medium-sized bowl and add the drained oysters. Let them soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Combine flour, cornmeal, Creole seasoning, and salt in a shallow bowl or pie plate and whisk to combine.
- Remove the oysters from the buttermilk mixture, one at a time and dredge them in the cornmeal mixture. Toss gently and make sure they are well coated, then shake off any excess breading.
- Place the coated oysters on a metal cooling rack until they are all coated. Let them sit for a few minutes. This step helps to fuse the breading and buttermilk and keeps the breading from falling off when they are fried.
- Place a large heavy-duty stockpot, Dutch oven, or cast iron skillet with high sides over medium-high heat. Add one to two inches of oil and heat oil.
- Use a candy or deep-fry thermometer to test the oil temperature. When it reaches 350°F, carefully add the oysters one at a time. Depending on the size of your pan, it works best to fry in small batches. Only cook six to eight at a time. You do not want to crowd them. (Maintain a consistent heat of 350°F by increasing or decreasing the heat under the pan.)
- Let the oysters fry for about two to three minutes. Stir occasionally or until the breading is light golden brown and the meat is opaque with the edges slightly curled.
- Use a wire kitchen spider or slotted spoon to remove them from the oil. Place them on a paper towel or wire cooling rack to drain. Repeat until all of the oysters are fried, and serve immediately.
- Optional: garnish with fresh lemon wedges and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice, including tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, or remoulade.
🍲 What do fried oysters taste like?
A fried oyster with a cornmeal crust tastes like sea spray from a crashing wave mixed with an explosion of briny, buttery freshness and delightful crunchiness.
Oysters develop their shape, texture, and flavor (merrior) from the waters where they live. Gulf oysters harvested in the nutrient-rich waters along the Gulf Coast of Florida or Louisiana have a slightly different taste from those harvested in Chesapeake Bay, along the east coast of Maryland, North Carolina, or the Pacific Coast.
All varieties, whether wild or farmed will have a silky, meaty texture and a salty-sweet creaminess.
💭 Top tip:
To minimize grease splatter, use a large heavy-duty stock pot or dutch oven with high sides instead of a cast iron skillet. It will make clean-up easier. And, if you have a screen grease splatter guard to cover the pot, that works even better.
📖 Recipe Variations:
While I recommend you make this recipe as written, if you prefer, you can vary or adjust it to your family’s preferences.
- Instead of the Creole seasoning, you could substitute Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning.
- You can also make crispy fried oysters without cornmeal by substituting panko, breadcrumbs, or cracker crumbs. In addition, you can use flour only.
- To give them a spicy kick, add a tablespoon or hot sauce to the buttermilk before soaking them. This recipe can also be made without buttermilk by replacing it with an egg wash.
- I prefer cornmeal-breaded fried oysters, but some oyster enthusiasts like using a tempura-style batter containing flour, cornstarch, beer, soda, or water.
🍽 Where to buy fresh oysters:
Depending on where you live, most seafood markets and larger grocery stores such as Publix sell fresh oysters in the shell and shucked. You can also find farmed oysters at farmers’ markets and other venues.
If you are in the Tallahassee area, you can purchase them at Southern Seafood Market or directly from my friend Keller, aka Oyster Mom, who has an oyster farm in Oyster Bay, south of Tallahassee.
🍽Do oysters need to be rinsed before frying them:
The answer is it depends on who you ask. Most cooks do not rinse them when making dishes such as Oysters Rockefeller or oyster stew because the salty brine or oyster liquor surrounding them is packed with flavor. I generally do not rinse them.
However, depending on the shucker’s skill, they may contain bits of shell or other debris after being shucked. So, if you are worried about that, you should rinse them in cold water and drain them before making this recipe.
🍽What sides to serve with this recipe?
They are also delicious on a New Orleans-style po’ boy sandwich or in a Caesar salad, and they are an essential component on a fried seafood platter with an assortment of fried fish or fried grouper, fried crab claws, deviled crab, and pan-fried shrimp.
While I like mine plain, many folks like to serve them with either homemade or purchased tartar sauce, remoulade sauce, ketchup, or a seafood cocktail sauce on the side. I have also seen them served with barbecue sauce, melted butter with lemon, and even buffalo sauce.
🍽How many varieties of oysters are there?
- Although there are over a hundred recognized species, the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is the most common oyster found and harvested in salty brackish water along the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic coastline up to Canada.
- The majority of oysters consumed in the US are harvested in oyster farms and beds in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and along the east coast of the southern states.
- The size of Eastern oysters depends on their age and where they live. In Florida’s warm waters, they mature in about two years. In the colder waters of the north, they can take longer to mature. They can be anywhere from two to five inches long.
- In addition, there are Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and Olympia Oysters (Ostrea lurida), both native and farmed, which can be found along the West Coast of the US. These oysters tend to be larger.
🍽How to keep the breading from falling off:
To keep the cornmeal breading from falling off when they are fried, after marinating in buttermilk, put the breaded oysters on a metal cooling rack until they all have been coated. Then, let them sit for a few minutes before frying so the buttermilk will act like glue and fuse with the breading.
📖 What’s the best oil for frying:
I always use peanut oil for frying because It has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor. A smoke point is a temperature at which the oil starts to smoke and break down. Other oils with a high smoke point and neutral flavor include canola, sunflower, soybean, and safflower.
Leftovers, storage and reheating:
Fried oysters are best eaten while they are still hot, right after they have been fried.
If you do have leftovers, you can store them covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. I do not recommend freezing them.
They can be reheated on a wire rack in a 350°F oven for about five minutes or in an air fryer set at 400°F for about three minutes.
💬 Recipe FAQs:
If they are freshly shucked, they should be stored covered in the coldest part of your refrigerator where they will keep for up to five days from your purchase date.
Live oysters still in the shell should be stored in a mesh bag and covered with a damp cloth. Stored properly, and freshly harvested, they will keep for up to two weeks in the coldest part of your refrigerator. However, they are best eaten within seven days after they have been harvested.
In years past, they were only harvested and considered safe to eat in the colder months or months with an “r” in them.
With modern refrigeration and the cultivation of farm-raised oysters, they are considered safe to eat and available for purchase twelve months of the year. Wild oysters are generally harvested in the cooler fall months.
Generally, most raw oysters are sold shucked and packaged in pint-size containers. Pints average from sixteen to twenty raw, oysters depending on their size.
The number of servings from a pint depends on who will eat them and their appetite. Usually, a pint will feed two adults when you serve them as a dinner entrée. As an appetizer, a pint will usually feed four adults.
The minimum safe internal temperature is 145 °F, as measured by an instant-read meat thermometer.
The main difference is the amount of oil and the type of pan used. Pan-frying typically involves a shallow cast-iron skillet and around one inch of oil. On the other hand, deep frying is usually done in a deep fryer or Dutch oven with high sides with two to three inches of oil.
You can use either method with this recipe.
💭 More expert tips and tricks:
- To minimize the odor of fried seafood, boil equal amounts of vinegar and water for about ten minutes after frying.
- Shucking oysters or removing their shell requires a special oyster knife and a certain amount of skill. If you are interested in learning how to shuck them, check out this video by America’s Test Kitchen.
- Canned oysters, which can be purchased either fresh or smoked, are already cooked. They are not suitable for use in this recipe.
- Try to maintain a consistent temperature when frying. Too low, and your food will be greasy and soggy. If it’s too high, the crust will burn before it is cooked through.
- To keep your fried oysters warm while the rest cook, place them on a metal rack set over a cookie sheet in a 200 °F oven.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining two tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice with two cups of whole milk. Let it sit for about five minutes, and voila, buttermilk.
🦐 More seafood recipes:
If you love seafood as I do, you might also like these quick and easy recipes:
If you need more menu ideas or recipes, here is a link to all of my seafood recipes.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐⭐ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones; I hope you come back soon!
Best Easy Southern Crispy Fried Oysters Recipe
- Large stock pot, Dutch oven, or cast iron skillet with high sides
- A screen grease splatter guard is optional but will minimize the oil splatter
- Kitchen metal spider, or large slotted spoon
- Deep fry or candy thermometer
- wire cooling rack
- 1 pint freshly shucked raw oysters
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1¼ cup fine yellow cornmeal
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 quart peanut oil
- While the oil heats, pour the oysters into a colander or strainer and let them drain. Then, rinse with fresh water to wash off any debris or shell fragments.
- Pour the buttermilk into a medium-sized bowl and dunk the drained oysters. Let them marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Place the cornmeal, flour, creole seasoning, and salt in a shallow bowl or pie plate and whisk to combine.
- Remove the oysters from the buttermilk one at a time and dredge them in the cornmeal mixture. Toss gently and make sure they are well coated, then shake any excess breading off.
- Place the coated oysters on a metal cooling rack until all of them have been coated. Letting them sit for a few minutes helps to fuse the breading and buttermilk and keeps the breading from falling off when they are fried.
- Place a large stockpot, Dutch oven, or cast iron skillet with high sides over medium-high heat and add one to two inches of oil.
- When the oil reaches 350 °F, carefully add the oysters to fry one at a time. Depending on the size of your pan, it works best to fry in batches and only cook six to eight at a time. You do not want to crowd them. (Maintain a consistent heat of 350 °F by increasing or decreasing the heat under the pan.)
- Let the oysters fry for about two to three minutes, stirring occasionally or until the breading is light golden brown and the meat is opaque with the edges slightly curled. Use a wire kitchen spider or slotted spoon to remove them from the oil. Place on a paper towel or wire cooling rack to drain.
- Repeat until all of the oysters are fried and serve immediately. Optional, garnish with fresh lemon or lime slices and serve with your choice of sauce and sides.