Go Back
+ servings
Side shot of two bowls of oyster stew on a wooden table.
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Virginia Oyster Stew

Fresh oysters are a big deal on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, so a classic Oyster Stew has become a Christmas Eve tradition in this part of the country!
Course Appetizer, Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword chesapeake bay oyster stew recipe, oyster stew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people (1 cup per serving)
Calories 288kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • ½ cup half-and-half or heavy cream, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pint shucked oysters, liquor included
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • For garnish: chopped fresh chives, sliced green onions, or a dash of paprika


  • Place milk, cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium saucepan or soup pot. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, just until hot (about 10 minutes). Do not boil.
  • In a separate skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add the oysters, liquor and Worcestershire sauce. Sauté until the edge of the oysters just begin to curl (2-3 minutes). Transfer the oyster mixture to the pot of milk, and cook over medium-low heat for about 2 more minutes. Do not boil.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chives or paprika, if desired.


  • Do not strain off the oyster liquor from the jar of oysters. This liquid adds delicious, briny, rich flavor to the broth.
  • How to keep oyster stew from curdling: With any milk or cream-based soup, it's important to make sure that you don't let the soup get too hot, or the liquid will curdle. Keep the stew over medium-low or low heat and watch it closely. It's also important to allow the milk and cream to come to room temperature before adding it to the pot.
  • Use whole milk (not a lower-fat alternative), since the whole milk is less likely to curdle when cooked.
  • This recipe yields 4 cups of stew, or enough for about 4 small servings. If you would like to serve this dish to a larger group, you can multiply all of the ingredients accordingly. For instance, double the ingredients for 8 cups, triple the ingredients for 12 cups, and so on.
  • Garnish each bowl with green onions, chives, parsley, or other fresh herbs for a bright touch that nicely balances the rich, creamy broth.
Recipe slightly adapted from the cookbook Dishing Up Virginia


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.2g | Protein: 11.9g | Fat: 20.3g | Saturated Fat: 12.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.3g | Cholesterol: 99.2mg | Sodium: 629.7mg | Potassium: 215.7mg | Sugar: 5.6g