Eastern Shore–Style Oyster Stew

A Change of Season Means Seafood Stew

By Jason Miller, Balducci’s Corporate Executive Chef

Photography by Susan Able,  EdibleDC

Photography by Susan Able, EdibleDC

Oyster stew is a huge family favorite everywhere in the Chesapeake area, and my family from the Eastern Shore is no exception. My grandmother made oyster stew—and her recipe only had five ingredients: oysters and their juice, butter, cream, celery salt and pepper. I’ve added a few twists on mine, and I have to say that this stew is a tasty and easy recipe that showcases local oysters for fall weekend gatherings. All of the ingredients here can be found at Balducci’s, where I am corporate chef. We also have a great wine department, and I’d love to suggest pairing this with our own Balducci’s Private Label Chenin Blanc from South Africa. 


Yield: 3–4 (6-ounce) servings 

1 pint shucked oysters, liquor reserved 

3 ounces butter 

3 ounces white onion, diced 

3 ounces celery, diced 

3 garlic cloves, minced 

3 tablespoons flour 

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice 

¼ cup heavy cream 

2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning 

Juice from ½ lemon 

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley 

Salt and pepper to taste 


Heat a medium-size heavy-bottom soup or saucepot over medium-low heat. Add butter and sauté the onions, celery and garlic for 4–5 minutes, being careful not to brown or burn. 

Add the flour and stir with wooden spoon to make a roux. You want to cook this blond roux for another 5 minutes on low heat, again being careful not to brown or burn. 

Add the clam juice and reserved oyster shucking liquid, and stir. Turn up heat while whisking to ensure no lumps. Bring to a boil for about 1 minute, and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the cream and cook for about 10 minutes. 

Season stew with the Old Bay, lemon juice, salt and pepper. The stew should just coat the back of a spoon. If you prefer your oysters just warmed for serving, remove your saucepan from heat and add the shucked oysters and fresh parsley. If you prefer a more well-done oyster, cook the stew for 2 to 3 minutes more. 

Serve in a bowl or soup cup and garnish with oyster crackers.