Oyster Sauces

7 Easy, Delicious Sauces for Fresh, Shucked Oysters

Buy them shucked or shuck them yourself, either way fresh oysters on the half shell are great to eat and fun to serve at home. Whether you're a seasoned oyster eater looking for new ways to top these tasty bivalves or an oyster neophyte wondering how to serve these succulent treats, find easy and delicious ways to top them below.

Want to know more about oysters? Check out this Guide to Oyster Types.

  • 01 of 07

    Cocktail Sauce

    Shucking Oysters
    Oysters with Cocktail Sauce. Photo © Philip Gould/Getty Images

    Keep it real. Keep it traditional. Plenty of oyster lovers claim cocktail sauce overpowers the delicate flavor of oysters, but, let's face it, that's exactly what plenty of people are looking for.

    You can buy cocktail sauce, but it's so easy to make yourself I've never understood having that extra bottle in the cupboard or fridge: just add jarred or freshly grated horseradish to ketchup to taste (start with about 1 tablespoon horseradish to 1/4 cup ketchup).

  • 02 of 07

    Lemon Juice

    Fresh Lemons. Photo © Molly Watson

    It is beyond simple, but a spritz of fresh lemon juice brings out the crave-able briny flavor that makes oysters such a hit with those who love them. When you spritz lemon juice on truly fresh oysters, you may even notice them twitch a bit when the acid hits them. Slurp them up.

  • 03 of 07

    Mignonette Sauce

    French Mignonette Sauce with Oysters
    Oysters with Mignonette Sauce. Photo © Chris Lishman/Getty Images

    Hands down, this is my favorite thing to drizzle on oysters before I eat them. It may sound fancy, but it sure is easy to make: combine a finely minced shallot with about 1/4 cup champagne vinegar and add salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Let people drizzle mignonette sauce on their own oysters, and, to follow the French tradition more fully, offer thinly sliced rye bread and fresh butter alongside.

  • 04 of 07

    Pesto

    Pesto. Photo © Molly Watson

    The bright flavor of fresh basil that defines pesto, along with the richness from pine nuts, sharp bite of garlic, and acid kick of lemon juice is a surprisingly lovely match with raw oysters. Make a batch of homemade pesto, then thin it with lemon juice, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and dollop it onto oysters. It's not conventional, but it's darn tasty.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Serrano Chile Lime Sauce

    Fresh Green Chiles
    Serrano Chiles. Gabriel Perez/Getty Images

    For those looking for a little kick and a little something different, try this spicy twist on traditional mignonette sauce: mix 1 small finely minced serrano chile (discard the seeds to tame the heat, if you like) with 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, add salt to taste and some finely chopped cilantro, if you like.

  • 06 of 07

    Spicy Mignonette Sauce

    Spicy Mignonette Sauce
    Spicy Mignonette Sauce. Photo © Molly Watson

    I felt like a culinary genius when I brought classic mignonette sauce and nuoc cham, the spicy Vietnamese sauce, together in this recipe. It's amazing on raw oysters, but also truly shines when drizzled over grilled oysters. Peel and mince 1 small shallot and stir it into 1/2 cup cider vinegar, along with 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons red chile flakes, and salt to taste. A bit of fish sauce is good, too. 

  • 07 of 07

    Tabasco Sauce

    Freshly Shucked Oysters
    Oysters with Tabasco Sauce. Photo © Hybrid Images/Getty Images

    The vinegar-y, spicy tang of Tabasco, or similar vinegar-based chile sauces, meshes well with the underlying mineral-y sweetness that makes oysters so irresistible.