The Best Damn BBQ Oyster Recipe on Earth

GuideAdvisor editor Vince Hempsall gets ready to enjoy his first ever BBQ oyster
The GuideAdvisor crew had one of our favourite experiences in California on Tomales Bay, a beautiful sheltered inlet just north of San Francisco. It’s an area renowned for excellent sailboating, sea kayaking, hiking and oyster farming.

We hung out for the day with a group of excellent guides from Blue Waters Kayaking (including Chris Match, Dallas Smith, Ian Garcia, Liz Wilhelm and Seth Harvey) and went for a tour in a flat-bottomed oyster boat to Hog Island. (The island is said to be named for an incident when a ship carrying pigs to market grounded on its shores and the animals escaped.) When we returned to the mainland we were told we had to enjoy the local delicacy: barbecued oysters.

It was our first time ever trying oysters straight off the Q and wow! Were they ever delicious! Combined with the beautiful sunny backdrop of the bay and a bottle of Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin-Sumpin ale and we were in heaven!

GuideAdvisor editor Vince Hempsall gets ready to enjoy his first ever BBQ oyster
Seth Harley, a guide and chef with Blue Waters, says barbecuing oysters is really simple but the secret is to start with the freshest shellfish you can find. Here’s the recipe:

Barbecued Oysters Recipe

  • 16 very fresh, large, whole live oysters
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • a few dashes of Tabasco
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste

Heat a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the olive oil and the butter. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper. Turn off heat.

Shuck the oysters and spoon a little sauce into each. Place oysters on a very hot, preheated grill, cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the edges of oysters curl slightly.

If you’re not a skilled shucker, no problem. Just place the oysters, cup side up on a very hot, preheated grill, cover and cook for 1 minute. The oysters should now be slightly open. Don an oven mitt, remove them and use a clean screwdriver to pry open the oyster. It should easily open. Spoon sauce into each oyster and return oysters to the grill. Cover and grill 4-5 minutes. Garnish with more hot sauce if desired.

Serve with dipping bread and enjoy with a group of new best friends, like the ones we met at Bluewater Kayaking.

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  • Tom gundershaug

    Hi Seth
    Can’t wait to try your recipe. I have been BBQ oysters as you do for years but only sauteed them with butter and garlic.

    Thanks Tom

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