How to Shuck an Oyster Like a Pro


If you love fresh Nova Scotia Oysters as much as we do, you probably already know that some work is required to access the delicious inside of these bivalves. At first glance, oyster shucking can appear somewhat intimidating, but learning how to shuck an oyster like a pro may not be as hard as you think.

Becoming a competent oyster shucker doesn’t happen overnight. It requires the right tools, a bit of technique and a bunch of patience. Here’s our official oyster shucking guide, to help you dig into Nova Scotia oysters like a pro!

1) The right tools for the job

Before the shucking begins, it’s important that you find the right tools for the job. This includes a clean rag or dishcloth, a solid surface (a wooden cutting board is perfect), a severing platter and a proper oyster shucker. Although there are many types of oyster knifes, we really like the style pictured above. The sharp tip allows for easy entry into the hinge of the oyster and the sharp edge makes severing the adductor muscle a snap. Some people also like to wear a glove while shucking to provide some additional protection. Gloves can range from a basic rubber dish glove to a stainless steel mesh glove. At the end of the day, having the right tools for the job will make for a much safer shucking experience.

2) Cleaning and positioning

Clean your oysters by rinsing them under cold running water and removing an grit or mud. Place the oyster between your folded rag or dishcloth with the hinge exposed. The hinge is where the oyster naturally opens and closes, and it is usually more tapered than the opposing end. Make sure the oyster is right side up, that is that the curve is on the bottom, and the side that is more flat faces up.

3) Making the insertion

With the oyster secured on a surface, within your cloth, in one hand use an oyster shucking knife to find the deepest crevice in the knuckle. With a decent amount of pressure, wiggle the knife into the space until the shell releases, then give it a twist to pop the joint open. Try to mimic the action of opening a doorknob. Be extremely careful during this step to avoid any accidents with your oyster knife.

4) Sliding the knife between the shells

With your knife fully inserted, slide the edge of the blade horizontally down the shell to sever the muscle that connects the oyster to the top shell.

5) The final cut

Remove and discard the top shell, then carefully slide the knife under the oyster as closely as possible to the shell, to sever the muscle from the bottom shell. Keep the oyster as level as possible during the process to not loose the liquor in the shell. The liquor is an important element in the oyster tasting experience. This briny liquid help to provide a true taste of the oyster’s origins – otherwise know as it’s ‘merroir’.

6) The finishing touches

Use your finger to remove any debris or shell that may have found its way in to the oyster.


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5 Responses to How to Shuck an Oyster Like a Pro

  1. Paul Hardiman says:

    Where can you buy this type of oyster knive as shown in the demonstration?

    • Doug Townsend says:

      I would suggest visiting a local kitchen supply store, or fresh seafood shop. Otherwise, a quick search online would likely produce some good options for similar oyster shuckers.

  2. Richard Rush says:

    In an otherwise excellent discussion, the author has mistaken an adductor muscle for an abductor muscle. Oysters do not have an abductor muscle. The abductor muscle pushes apart. The adductor pulls them together. Humans have both. Oysters only have an adductor muscle. When an oyster expires, the muscle relaxes and the shells open.

  3. Basil Mattie says:

    Basil Mattie
    I have collected a number of shucking knives but went back to the 79 cent style once I found one with stainless steel blade. The cheap one rusts so keep them handy to be sure one is always available to enjoy the succulent morsel. Could almost write a book on different ways to enjoy, come on spring harvest.

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