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Fried Oysters

Virginia is known for its fresh Chesapeake Bay oysters, and this crispy Deep Fried Oysters recipe is the best way to prepare them!
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine Southern
Keyword fried oysters
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 - 6 people as an appetizer (or 2-3 people as an entree)
Calories 208kcal
Author Blair Lonergan


  • 1 pint fresh shucked oysters (about 18 oysters total)
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Optional Tartar Sauce, for serving:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or parsley, optional
  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • For the Tartar Sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F, in a deep cast iron skillet, or in a Dutch oven over medium heat to a depth of about 2-3 inches, until it reaches 350°F. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, sprinkle a few drops of water on the hot oil. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
  • Drain the oysters in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Use a toothpick to poke a small hole in the large round part of each oyster.
  • Put the buttermilk in a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, Old Bay seasoning and pepper.
  • Add the oysters to the buttermilk and soak for a few minutes. Remove the oysters from the buttermilk, gently shake off excess liquid, and dredge in cornmeal mixture to coat on all sides. Shake off excess breading and transfer to a wire rack.
  • Working in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan, fry oysters until golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels, season with additional salt and pepper (if necessary) while they’re still warm, and serve hot with tartar sauce or other dipping sauce.


  • Season the oysters before frying by adding the seasoning to the cornmeal mixture. You can also season with additional salt and pepper (if necessary), as soon as the oysters come out of the oil.
  • Shake off the excess buttermilk and cornmeal each time you dredge the oysters to make sure that you just have a light coating on each piece.
  • Maintain a consistent oil temperature of about 350°F (or as high as 375°F) for crispy, golden brown oysters. You may need to adjust the heat to keep the oil within this range.
  • Use a spider strainer to place the oysters in the oil and to remove them at the end of cooking.
  • Fry the oysters in batches so that you don't overcrowd the pan, and gently stir or move them around, as necessary, to prevent them from sticking together.
  • This recipe serves about 2-3 people as an entrée, or 4-6 people as an appetizer or snack. You can adjust the quantity of oysters and other ingredients (doubling or tripling), as necessary, to feed a larger crowd.


Serving: 1/6 of the oysters | Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 1213mg | Potassium: 174mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 2mg