GIF Tutorial: How to Shuck an Oyster

C.J. Husk of Island Creek Oysters shows us how to open a bivalve like a pro.

  • Click through the gallery to find out how to shuck an oyster without slicing your hand open.
  • Step 1: Hold the oyster with the rounded side down and the flatter side up.
  • Step 2: Put the rounded side of the oyster in the palm of your hand, then place the tip of your oyster knife (or any paring knife) into the hinge on the other side. CJ says the key to not cutting yourself to place your index finger on the top side of the knife, near the tip, to help guide it.
  • Step 3: Using your shoulder for power, drill the tip of the knife into the hinge. This is the most dangerous part, as you could slip and drive the knife into your palm, so be sure to wear rubber gloves or wrap your hand in a thick towel.
  • Step 4: Once the tip is firmly in the hinge, use it like a lever to begin to pry the shell open, then twist the knife.
  • Step 5: Scrape the knife across the top part of the shell (keeping the blade as close to the shell as possible) to cut through the adductor muscle that connects the meat to the shell. Remove the top part of the shell.
  • Step 6: Do the same thing on the bottom half, again keeping the blade as close to the shell as possible to avoid cutting away any of the tasty meat.
  • Step 7: Put on ice and serve immediately—or just slurp it down yourself right away.

GIFs by Liz Barclay

You know how to cook a killer steak. You know how to make a mean Old-Fashioned. But do you know how to shuck an oyster?

The raw bar dominates the restaurant world these days, with glistening platters of bivalves being ferried about everywhere you look. Yet few people consider serving raw oysters at home—or, better yet, at a Labor Day cookout—even though shucking an oyster is actually pretty easy, not to mention a lot of fun (and yes, a little dangerous, but that only makes it more fun).

Recently, we found the good folks of Island Creek Oysters running a stand at the Newport Folk Festival, and we couldn’t help but admire the lightening-fast technique of CJ Husk. Turns out the guy is a bit of a legend on the mollusk scene, where he’s often referred to simply as the “oyster dude.” Click through the gallery above for a step-by-step tutorial on how to open a bivalve without hurting yourself (or losing any of the delicious meat).

A few extra tips for those shucking at home:

  • If you don’t have an oyster knife, use a paring knife.
  • Wear protective rubber gloves, or place the oyster in a thick kitchen towel so that if the knife slips, it won’t go into your hand.
  • Shuck over a bowl to avoid spilling brine all over the place
  • Avoiding tipping the shell too much once you get it open—you don’t want to lose the briny juice.
  • Know what to look for when shopping for oysters.


  • Gef Flimlin

    NEVER USE A PARING KNIFE!!!!!! Get an GOOD oyster knife. Paring knives are meant to cut, so if you want to cut your hand opening an oyster….use a paring knife. Stupid recommendation.

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