Simple Oyster Casserole
Dinner Casseroles - Food - Holidays - Sides

Simple Oyster Casserole

Last updated on September 9, 2023 by Liza Hawkins

One of the things I’ve always loved about cooking is the ability to try a recipe and 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 the recipe for this simple oyster casserole.

Freshly baked oyster casserole made with crumbled saltines.


A friend shared this oyster casserole recipe with me 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 this one 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.

For a holiday dinner nobody cares about that, right? Right.

Simple Oyster Casserole

There’s no substitute for the jarred fresh oysters in this casserole, which is something I’m asked by a reader during every holiday season (whether they mean smoked oysters or another shellfish, I’m not sure). All I can say is, try the recipe before you turn your nose.

There are recipes that are so beautifully simple and satisfying that tampering with them would almost feel like culinary sacrilege. This simple oyster casserole is one of those gems; a timeless classic that has graced holiday tables for generations.

Its humble combination of ingredients makes it a cherished favorite, and once you’ve tasted it, you’ll understand why it’s deserving of a permanent place in your holiday repertoire like sweet potato casserole and other classics.

In this casserole, the oysters bake into a taste and texture that’s unlike a fried oyster or something from a raw bar. It’s the magic of the cream and the butter, along with the saltiness of the oyster liqueur and the crackers … yum!

At the heart of this oyster casserole is, of course, the star ingredient: plump, briny oysters. They bring a taste of the ocean to your holiday feast, something this native Marylander appreciates. When it comes to oysters, freshness is paramount, and this dish allows those oysters to shine in all their natural glory.

Freshly baked oyster casserole made with crumbled saltines.

The creamy, velvety sauce that envelops the oysters is rich without being overpowering, allowing the delicate taste of the oysters to come through. The combination of butter, cream, and a touch of brine creates a luscious, comforting backdrop for the oysters to nestle into. It’s a sauce that marries the land and the sea in perfect harmony.

Now, let’s talk about the finishing touch: the crunchy, golden breadcrumb topping. It adds a delightful contrast to the creamy oysters, and it’s a bit like discovering a hidden treasure within the casserole … a satisfying crunch that leads to the tender, succulent oysters below.

As you take that first forkful, the flavors of the oysters and the creamy sauce meld together in a way that’s nothing short of magical. It’s a taste that transports you to the coast, where the sea breeze mingles with the aroma of a holiday feast. Every bite is a reminder of the joy that comes from simple, well-executed dishes that require no alteration or embellishment.

Beyond Oyster Casserole: Exploring the World of Oysters

Oysters, those briny jewels of the sea, have held an esteemed place in culinary history for centuries. Whether you’re a seasoned oyster enthusiast or a curious novice, the journey of selecting, sourcing, and savoring these delectable mollusks is one worth embarking upon. We’ll quickly delve into the art of choosing the perfect oysters, discover where to procure them, and explore the myriad of culinary adventures that await within the confines of a jar.

Selecting the Perfect Oysters:

The first step in creating an unforgettable oyster experience is selecting the right bivalves. When it comes to choosing fresh oysters, it’s all about the senses. Start with your nose; the oysters should have a clean, briny sea smell, like a refreshing breeze on a coastal morning. If intact, their shells should be tightly closed or have a slight gap that closes when tapped — a sure sign of freshness.

When it comes to jarred oysters, the rules of selection still apply. Look for jars that are free of any damage or signs of leakage. Check the label for key information, such as the harvest date, processing method, and any additives. Ideally, opt for jarred oysters that are minimally processed, retaining their natural flavor and texture.

Where to Find Your Oysters:

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of what to look for, it’s time to embark on a quest to find your oysters. The best place to start is your local seafood market or fishmonger. Establishing a rapport with a trusted vendor can help ensure you consistently get the finest oysters available. Many seafood markets even offer a variety of oyster options, from briny East Coast gems to plump and creamy West Coast delights.

If you’re a fan of the convenience of jarred oysters, you’re in luck! These treasures from the deep can often be found in the meat/seafood counter of your favorite grocery store. If possible, choose an option that shows good quality and sustainability practices. That said, may grocery stores typically only have a single jarred option, so you get what you get. Alternatively, you can explore online sources and specialty food stores that offer a wider range of jarred oyster options, including smoked, pickled, and spiced varieties.

Unleashing the Culinary Potential:

Beyond the classic oyster on the half shell, jarred oysters open the door to a world of culinary creativity. These ready-to-use morsels can elevate your dishes with their rich, briny essence. Consider adding them to your next seafood chowder for a burst of flavor, or toss them into a pasta sauce for a decadent twist on linguine and clams.

Jarred oysters also shine in appetizers and snacks. Create a delightful oyster dip by blending them with cream cheese, horseradish, and a hint of lemon juice. This crowd-pleasing dip, when spread on toasted baguette slices, will have your guests clamoring (oystering?) for the recipe.

Or, craft a savory oyster stuffing for a show-stopping Thanksgiving side dish that will have everyone at the table singing your praises — this was a staple at my New England grandmother’s feast.

This holiday season, as you gather around the table with loved ones, consider adding this simple oyster casserole to your menu. Let its unadorned elegance be a testament to the beauty of a recipe that’s perfect just the way it is. And as you savor each bite, take a moment to appreciate the culinary tradition that has brought this dish to your table, a tradition that celebrates the art of keeping things beautifully, deliciously simple.

Simple Oyster Casserole
Yield: 1

Simple Oyster Casserole

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Drain the oysters, reserving the 1/2 cup of oyster liqueur.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes uncovered, or until the top is golden and edges are bubbly.


Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 623Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 210mgSodium: 1028mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 29g

Hi, I'm Liza — a self-proclaimed word-nerd who loves getting lost in whimsical stories and epic movies. I have laid-back, practical attitude towards life and am always on the hunt for good eats, easy recipes, binge-worthy shows, relaxing road trip destinations, the perfect fizzy gin cocktail, and time to finish my novel!

59 Comments on “Simple Oyster Casserole

  1. This is an old southern recipe that we make for every important holiday get-together. It’s a comfort food like no other!

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

  7. 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.

    1. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    1. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

    1. 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)!

  12. 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

  13. 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!!!

  14. My Mom used to make this for my father… and I will be making this for my wife on Friday – thanks so much!

    1. 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.

  15. 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!

    1. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. My mother made this every year at Thanksgiving. I was so happy to find it online! Her recipe included celery seed and nutmeg in the cream. This year, I used whole milk, just because I forgot to by cream. Cooking right now! Using Oregon Willapa Bay Goose Point Oysters.

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