How to make smokes oysters with 7 top woods & 4 to really avoid

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  March 29, 2020

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Oysters are a great alternative to your classic smoked meats. They are light, delicate, and have a distinct flavor that seafood lovers are sure to enjoy! Once ready, oysters are juicy, firm, and mildly smoky.

Smoked oysters can be served as smoked appetizers, snacks, chowders, or combined with rice and pasta as main dishes. To get the most flavor, you must choose the right wood for smoking.

In this post, I’ll discuss the top choices and which to definitely avoid.

Best wood for smoking oysters

Best wood for smoking oysters

The two main types of wood to use are fruit woods or light to medium hardwoods. Seafood is best complemented by aromatic woods like fruitwoods.

It’s easiest to use wood chips because logs burn for too long, and the smoking time for oysters is relatively short.

You can soak your wood chips in water for about one hour when smoking oysters and fish.

Fruitwoods for oysters

How to buy a bbq smoker video x
How to buy a bbq smoker video

Fruit woods are an excellent choice because they offer mild or medium flavored smoke, which is ideal for seafood. If you are using logs, you don’t need more than two pieces of wood.

The best wood for oysters are:

Apple is also one of my top choices for smoking a nice rib roast as you can read here.

Hardwoods for oysters

You can also use hardwood logs and chips to smoke. As long as you don’t choose very strong flavored wood, you’ll get good results.

Once you’ve chosen your flavor, place the flavored wood into the heating element of your cooking device. The wood should start to smoke for a few minutes before you place your oysters.

How to prepare oysters for smoking

The first thing to do before smoking is to ensure that your oysters are fresh. They should be hard to shuck with your oyster knife.

If you want the most flavor, marinate oysters in a salty broth.

To season oysters, it’s best to keep it simple: salt, pepper, garlic, and butter because those ingredients will not overpower the seafood flavor.

Which woods to avoid

Avoid any strong-flavored hardwoods and coniferous wood, which contains lots of resin. Using strong woods will overpower the flavors of the oysters, and they won’t taste as good.

These are the woods you definitely want to avoid because their smoke is too heavy and intense for oysters and may make the meat taste bitter:

How long do you need to smoke oysters?

Before you begin smoking, add a grate to make sure your oysters don’t fall through. The ideal temperature for smoking oysters is between 200 – 250 degrees Fahrenheit, so you want to make sure your grill or smoker is at that temperature before you place your oysters and smoke them for 40 minutes.

They must not be placed directly on the heat source because they are delicate, and the goal is to smoke them, not fry them. The oysters are ready in approximately 30 minutes, but you must check them and let them smoke for an additional 10 minutes if they don’t appear to be firm.

A simple trick is to fill oysters with butter when you start smoking them and make sure that the butter does not evaporate. If it starts to disappear, your oysters are well done and ready to serve.

Enjoy oysters with an excellent mignonette sauce or as the main delicacy of your next BBQ. When you use the best light woods, seafood fans will be delighted with your smoked oyster.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.