How to open oysters without an oyster knife

Written by pat kelley
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How to open oysters without an oyster knife
Serve with lemon and cocktail sauce, or a mignionette. (oysters on a plate image by Lombok from

Opening oysters with an oyster knife can be time consuming and dangerous. Plenty of people puncture their hand when the knife slips. You don't need an oyster knife to open an oyster. Oysters, like mussels and other shellfish, will open when heat is applied. Steaming and roasting oysters will open them. If you are shooting for oysters on the half-shell, however, you can use a microwave to open them. It may not be as romantic as shucking them, but it gets the job done.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Oysters
  • Microwave
  • Glass casserole dish

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  1. 1

    Rinse oysters under cold water for one minute. Put one oyster in a glass casserole dish.

  2. 2

    Set microwave to defrost.

  3. 3

    Cook for one minute. This first oyster is a test oyster. The Maryland Seafood and Aquaculture Association says that the oysters need to cook for one to two minutes, but since microwaves have differing amounts of power, it is a good idea to test the first one. If the oyster has opened after one minute, shuck it immediately by widening the gap and prying apart with a butter knife. Do not stab the oyster meat, it will cause them to shrivel faster.

  4. 4

    Once you have done one, try a slightly larger batch to see if a larger amount of oysters affects the cooking time. Remember to use the defrost setting. An oyster will cook in three minutes in a microwave.

Tips and warnings

  • Shucked oysters rapidly lose moisture and shrivel. If you are serving a large group, plan to microwave and shuck a few at a time, or place shucked oysters on a tray of ice to prevent deterioration.

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