Simple Oyster Casserole
This simple oyster casserole will become a favorite dish for the holidays!
One of the things I love about cooking is the ability to try a recipe, then change it up to make it my own. But sometimes a recipe is *so perfect* just the way it started that altering it would seem almost offensive.
Like this simple oyster casserole.
I got this oyster casserole recipe from a friend, back in 2001.
It’s hard to remember exactly, but I believe at the time I was looking for something to make for a holiday dinner at my future in-laws’ house, so she pulled out a few of her trusted, favorite recipes and was kind enough to share them with me.
The simplicity of the recipe was astonishing — I remember thinking, “How in the world can only a few ingredients make something so tasty?!”
Well, probably because of the fat … it’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to calories, as you shall see. So, maybe that helps.
But for a holiday dinner, nobody cares about that, right? Right.
Simple Oyster Casserole
There’s no substitute for the fresh oysters in this casserole, something I’m asked at least once by a reader during every holiday season. I’ll say this, though: try it before you turn your nose. The oysters in this casserole bake into a taste and texture that’s unlike a fried oyster or something from a raw bar.
The cream and the butter, along with the saltiness of the oyster liqueur and the crackers … yum!
I’ve made this simple oyster casserole every Thanksgiving and Christmas for over a decade, and I’m not sure either side of the family would have it any other way.
Simple Oyster Casserole
This simple oyster casserole is perfect for the holidays!
- 2 pints fresh jarred oysters (find them in the seafood section)
- 4 cups medium coarse saltine cracker crumbs - about 2 sleeves
- 1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
- 1-1/2 cups half & half
- 1/2 cup oyster liqueur (the liquid in the oyster jars)
- 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drain the oysters, reserving the 1/2 cup of oyster liqueur.
- In a large bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and butter. Spread 1/3 of the cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish, and then top with 1/2 of oysters. Sprinkle with pepper. Repeat these steps once more.
- Combine the half & half, oyster liqueur, worcestershire sauce and salt. Pour the liquid mixture over top of the layers in the casserole dish. Top with the remaining crackers.
- Bake for 55 to 60 minutes uncovered, or until the top is golden and edges are bubbly.
Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 623Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 210mgSodium: 1028mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 29g
Last Updated on February 13, 2021 by Liza Hawkins
This is an old southern recipe that we make for every important holiday get-together. It’s a comfort food like no other!
Stephanie, it’s sooooooo good in such an unexpected way. I mean, Saltines?? Mmm…
Try RITZ crackers. Really good
I’ve heard that! It’s hard to picture after so many years of saltines…
My mother made this recipe from at least 1962 until her death in 2014 and was a holiday staple. I have continued her tradition and wish to add she used a few drops of liquid smoke and white pepper instead of black pepper. I think th liquid smoke really sets it apart. Wm. in Kentucky.
I’m so intrigued by the liquid smoke! Thanks for that suggestion — will have to try it!
This is very similar to what my husband’s aunt called oyster dressing. Only difference she used some vinegar in it as well. Was very good for those who enjoy oysters.
I bet a splash of vinegar would give a little tang. I’ll have to try that!
With garlic, celery and onion and a few eggs, this is how we stuff our turkey every year! It is soooo wonderful 🙂
Recipe was my Czech grandma’s.
I’ve never used this as a stuffing before, but I could see that! Also sounds very New England. Thanks for sharing!
When I got married in 1966, our neighbor included this recipe in her cookbook shower gift. Over the years I made for holiday family diners (my nephew shares my affinity for oysters). The card was finally lost due to numerous moves. Several times I attempted it from memory but I am so delighted to find it written out again!
Oh, I’m so glad!! Hope it tastes just like you remember. 🙂
R William McAllister
My Mom made this for me every Thanksgiving. The Lord took her in 1978 and, as I’m the only one in my family that cares for it, my best half rarely has the time to make it. However, having come across this simple recipe that so reminds me of Mom’s, tomorrow I shall make and thoroughly enjoy my own dish!
Oh, what a sweet story! Some of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving are how the dishes remind me of family members. The sweet potato casserole I prepare makes me think of my grandmother who passed in the ’90s, and I love that nostalgia. Happy Thanksgiving!
My mother called them scalloped oysters and use this recipe and my whole family loved this dish. I’ve tried to duplicate it but mines not as good as moms wish she was still with us to make it again. Brings back great memories.
The recipe is so simple (and with Saltines!) that it’s always surprising just how good it is. Family recipes are the best. 🙂
Can left overs be frozen?
Hi Debi! Yep, I think that would work fine. Probably wouldn’t taste quite as good as when it’s made fresh, but still good nevertheless. I’d reheat in the oven as opposed to the microwave.
Have been making this oyster casserole for years! To improve it a little add a layer of chopped cooked drained spinach on the bottom and use white pepper and a few drops of tabosco sauce!
Yum! That sounds great!
Hi! I tried to wing it and it turned out pathetic!, so thank you for this AWESOME recipe!
Always good to have a backup! Glad mine worked out for you.
This was always my Dad’s dish for Thanksgiving, he made it with Ritz crackers, which gave it a slight sweet buttery flavor. He always wanted to add more butter to the top but my Mom put a stop to that. They are both gone now but I continue to make it every Thanksgiving and am teaching my son to make it so the tradition carries on.
Hi Kathy! I love that story! I’ve never had it with anything but Saltines, but could see how Ritz would be delicious, too. Happy Thanksgiving!
Can you use oyster crackers instead of saltines ?
Hi Renee! I think you can — though you might need to add a little salt to the liquid since oyster crackers aren’t as salty as saltine crackers. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!
First time to try this recipe. Should oysters be chopped or left whole? Thank you.
Hi Bev! I leave them whole. Hope you enjoy!
Carol in Brooklyn
After researching dozens of recipes, hoping to recreate a dining experience from a Summer trip, we made this per spec with only minor customization. Our oysters came from Washington and were GINORMOUS – only a single layer of oysters would fit in the pan. So, we fine-diced 1/2 a red onion + 1/2 red bell pepper + 1/2 gold bell pepper and layered it over the oysters. Course ground 5-pepper blend and Himalayan pink salt over that. We used a bit more Worcestershire (~2 tsp in total) in the sauce. We used Trader Joe’s Golden Rounds (buttery golden crackers similar to Ritz) with butter as directed for the base and topping, with a bit of additional fresh-ground 5-pepper blend over the top of the dish. This recipe baked up beautifully and set-up perfectly as it cooled to palate temperature. Waiting that final 15 minutes with the tantalizing aromas wafting through the house was excruciating, but so-o-o worth the wait.
OH wow – that sounds fantastic! I’ve never made this with anything other than Saltine crackers, so now you have me drooling over the idea of a Ritz-type. Thank you for coming and sharing!
S. Rosalind Kleckley-Mixson
The heading for the recipe named red onion and bell pepper, yet they were not mentioned in the recipe. My late great-grandmother, Vivian Beach of Bluffton, SC, put white onion in hers, but I don’t remember if she sauted` them first. Hers was delicious cut into bars and eaten cold, too.
Hi! Not sure where red onion and bell pepper show up since it’s not part of this particular recipe. Maybe Google got things mixed up?
Deborah F Hrasok
My father passed away in 1978. He was the cook in the family and his oyster filling was always a big hit around the holidays. The only difference in his recipe from yours were the crackers. He used QTC , the big round hard oyster cracker that you can not find anymore. ( Company was sold and new product not the same.) I can’t wait to try your recipe using saltines. Thank you.
Deborah F Hrasok
I am sorry Lisa. They were OTC crackers. Not QTC. My mistake.
Deborah – As a fan of the smaller oyster crackers, I can totally see how those classic larger ones would be delicious in place of the saltines I use. That said … you now have me wondering if the smaller oyster crackers would work just as well. I may have to change it up this year and give it a try!
I found your recipe and love oysters so I made this for Thanksgiving dinner. I followed the recipe with one exception, I added Dungeness crab I had caught. It will now become a dish severed at every Thanksgiving dinner, Simply delicious. Thank you!
Made recipe for two to four people by cutting ingredients to 1/4th to 1.3. Used 50 raw shucked oysters. Did not know if should keep cover on dish when cooking and if anyone has cooked at 375 degrees as 350 took too long. Came out really good with oyster crackers used. A little bland so will spice up next time.
Hi! I don’t cover my casserole dish while baking, but it’s a good idea to say that explicitly so no one’s left guessing — I’m going to update the recipe now, to be clear. You can definitely play around with temps! Depending on the oven, the size/shape of the casserole dish, and other things, a 375°F setting may be more ideal. If you play around with spices next time, you’ll have to come back and let me know how it turned out (and what you used)!
You said that the oysters have a changed taste and texture. How is it changed?
Raw oysters have a wet, almost slippery, texture. Chewy, even. Once they’re cooked those traits disappear (in a good way).
Our family made this every year until my grandmother passed. We used Keebler club crackers and added a stick of Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheddar (grated). Delicious
Never heard of it with cheese, but I know others have used club crackers. I’ll have to try it!
Can I make this a day ahead of time?
Baked or unbaked?
Make it and put in refrigerator to bake the next day.
Make the casserole, put in refrigerator, and bake the next day
Yep, that should be fine. The consistency might be a little different with the crackers soaking longer, but overall integrity should be good still!
My mom made scalloped oysters every Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was the absolute best!!
I continued that tradition for several years after she died, but somewhere along the line and after
moving several times, her recipe disappeared and I have never been able to replicate her dish. Your
recipe is the closest to my mom’s I have ever found. Will be using it this holiday season and I can’t
wait! My mouth is watering already!!!
I’m go glad! I hope you love it!
My Mom used to make this for my father… and I will be making this for my wife on Friday – thanks so much!
What sides would one serve with this casserole?
Hi DB! I usually serve this oyster casserole *as* a side to complement a roast turkey, chicken, or beef. If you’re serving it as a main dish, I’d consider a big salad and roasted asparagus or something.
Lindsay E Scott
So excited to try these!!! Scalloped oysters have been a holiday tradition in my family dating back to my great grandmother. I’ve never heard of any other family making these, so it’s super exciting to find out others enjoy this dish at holidays too! It is my first time hosting Thanksgiving, and my first time attempting scalloped oysters. Unfortunately, I have not convinced my kids (or husband) to love these yet, so will need to half or even quarter the recipe. Are there any suggestions on how to alter the cooking time when making a half recipe? THanks!
Hi! The cooking time should stay about the same if all you’re doing is using a casserole dish half the dimension (i.e., a 9×9″ or 8×8″ in place of a 9×11″). If you’re going by quarts, then you’d have to potentially adjust time based on how full your casserole is — small, deeper dish could mean you need more baking time even if the volume is less. I hope that makes sense! Good news is, as long as you keep an eye on it, it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s done: bubbly around the edges and golden on top. Good luck!
This is the Same EXACT (and I do mean exact) recipe my Father handed down. He made this for as kids back in the late 1960’s; and as a tradition, I make every Thanksgiving.
Oh, that’s so cool!! We love it.