Love that vinaigrette you get with fresh raw oysters on the half shell at restaurants? It's so fast and easy to make at home and only needs 4 simple pantry ingredients! This classic, easy oyster vinaigrette recipe (mignonette) is my favorite accompaniment for briny oysters and makes a perfect pairing.
Oyster vinaigrette, also known as mignonette sauce, is a classic condiment served with oysters. It is made with minced shallots and wine or champagne vinegar. A pinch of salt and fresh black pepper along with tiny bit of sugar to balance the acidity of the vinegar completes this easy oyster mignonette.
The flavor is a delicious balance of tanginess, sweetness, savory aromatic shallots and pepper. It complements the briny and fresh flavor of oysters without overpowering them, allowing the natural taste of the oyster to shine through with a flavorful contrast.
How Should I Serve Oysters
First of all, keep your oysters cold. On ice or in the fridge until shucking and served on a bed of ice if they won't be enjoyed right away.
For small or large oyster platters, there are a few simple garnishes that pair perfectly with a raw presentation. Start with a little bowl of this classic mignonette sauce, some lemon wedges and a bottle of hot sauce (I like Tobasco). Grated horseradish is another traditional accompaniment to beautiful oysters.
What Do You Drink With Oysters?
Champagne, Chablis and unoaked Sauvignon blanc are classic wine and oyster pairings. Shots of ice cold vodka are also traditional.
For beer lovers, go with a rich dark Guinness or stout. If you prefer non-alcoholic drinks, try sparkling water with a twist of lemon, or other crisp beverages that aren't too sweet.
How To Shuck An Oyster (Safely)
Shucking fresh oysters can be a bit tricky, but with a little practice, it becomes easier. Here's a brief guide along with a few helpful photos including the oyster shucking glove I bought my husband.
You'll need an oyster knife (a short, sturdy knife with a pointed tip) and a clean kitchen towel or glove. A clean leather work glove or thin chain mail glove meant for shucking oysters is what we use. I like to pour rock salt on a baking sheet to hold the oysters upright as they get shucked. They can then be popped back in to the fridge on the tray for an hour or two until serving, if required.
Step 1. Protect your hand with the towel or shucking glove and hold the oyster firmly but gently so it won't slip.
Step 2. Oysters have a pointed end called the hinge, it is often slightly more pointed than the other end. This is where you'll start shucking. Position the oyster with the hinge facing you on a cutting board.
Step 3. Insert the tip of the oyster knife slightly to the side of the hinge, where the top and bottom shells meet. Apply gentle pressure and wiggle the knife in, keeping it as close to the top shell as possible.
Twist and Pry. Once the knife is inserted, twist it gently to pop the hinge. This might take a bit of force but be patient and careful to avoid slipping.
Step 4. After popping the hinge, slide the knife along the top shell, keeping it against the top shell to detach the muscle that holds the oyster closed. Avoid stabbing downwards so you don't cut into the oyster meat.
Step 5. Once you've detached most of the top shell, use the knife to carefully lift and separate it from the bottom shell, exposing the oyster.
Step 6. To finish, slide the knife underneath the oyster to cut the muscle that attaches it to the bottom shell so it will slide out easily while eating.
Remove any bits of shell fragments.
You did it! Serve the opened oysters immediately, on a bed of ice, with the mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.
Practice makes perfect when it comes to shucking oysters. Start slowly and carefully and keep your movements controlled and precise to avoid any knife injuries.
A light and tangy sauce for freshly shucked oysters, this vinaigrette couldn't be simpler or more delicious!
- Red Wine Vinegar - This recipe uses red wine vinegar which is easy to find. Alternatively, you can use Champagne vinegar. Both are traditional ingredients for this oyster sauce.
- Shallots - Shallots are small purple onions with a slight garlicky fragrance. They have a fine texture and great flavor that works well in the mignonette.
See recipe card for amounts.
Substitutions + Variations
Oyster vinaigrette is a versatile dipping sauce with a lovely balance of savory and tart. While the classic is my favorite recipe, there are lots of tasty flavor variations to add extra flavors to the mignonette if you like.
- Citrus - Add zest or juice from citrus fruits like lemon, lime, or orange to bring a bright, citrusy note to the sauce.
- Herbal - Briny oysters pair well with the vegetal flavors of herbs. Try finely chopped soft herbs like parsley, cilantro, dill, or tarragon for a fresh, herbal twist on this classic recipe.
- Spicy - Add some spice with Tobasco sauce, grated horseradish, or sriracha to taste.
- Asian - Use unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, and ½ teaspoon of finely grated ginger along with the shallot for an Asian-inspired mignonette.
- Cucumber - Add ¼ cup of finely diced cucumber to the vinegar and reduce the shallots by half and swap out the red wine vinegar for a white vinegar like Champagne or white wine vinegar.
- Vinegar Variation - Besides red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar is another classic vinegar to use in this recipe. You can also use white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or even apple cider vinegar if you like. Balsamic vinegar tends to be too sweet and overwhelming for oysters, so I don't recommend it.
- Shallot Substitute - While shallots are the traditional allium for mignonette recipes, you can substitute other minced or finely diced onion if needed. Sweet onion or red onion are the best substitutes for this vinaigrette.
Step By Step Instructions
Finely chop the shallots. You want them to be minced finely to blend well with the sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the chopped shallots, wine vinegar, cracked black pepper, and sugar. Note- use a non-reactive bowl like glass or stoneware.
Stir the ingredients together until well mixed.
Taste the oyster vinaigrette and adjust the seasoning if necessary by adding a pinch of salt or sugar to taste. The sauce should not be sweet though, just enough sugar to temper the acidity from the vinegar.
Let the mignonette sauce sit, covered in the fridge, for at least 30 minutes for optimal flavor development. It can be made up to 2 days ahead if you like. Give the oyster vinaigrette a little stir before serving with a small spoon alongside the freshest oysters you can find.
What are the best oysters to buy?
There are so many types of oysters in North America, Europe and elsewhere and I think they are ALL delicious. It is fun to serve up different types of oysters at a dinner party and see which ones everyone likes best. Or you can try many kinds at once at oyster bars.
Some of these tasty bivalves are grown on the East Coast and other types are grown on the West Coast. Blue Point, Raspberry Point and Malpeque oysters are East Coast oysters.
East coast oysters often have a more mineral, briny flavor while the West coast oysters are often sweeter. Oysters get their flavor more from their environment and food sources than from their species.
Kusshi oysters, Barron Point and Fanny Bay beach oysters are grown in Pacific waters. Kumamoto oysters originated in Japan and are farm grown on the West Coast as well.
Belon oysters, also known as European flats, like the name suggests, are from Europe.
A fresh oyster is the best oyster. Don't get oysters that don't close firmly when tapped or jostled, nor those that haven't been kept very cold. When eating any raw seafood, only buy fresh, well kept product.
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More Oyster Recipes
I love oysters and have lots of delicious ways to enjoy them.
If you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. I try to answer any recipe related questions quickly as I know you might be in the middle of making it. Also check out my FREE PRINTABLE meal planner to make menu planning and grocery shopping a breeze. And if you like this recipe, I would love it if you give it a star rating in the recipe card.
Cheers and happy cooking, Friends! Sabrina
Classic Easy Oyster Vinaigrette Recipe (Mignonette)
- ¼ cup Shallots
- ½ cup Red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper, finely ground
- ½ teaspoon Sugar or honey
- ½ teaspoon Salt to taste
- Finely chop the shallots. You want them to be minced finely to blend well with the sauce.
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped shallots, wine vinegar, salt, cracked black pepper, and sugar.
- Stir the ingredients together until well mixed.
- Adjust salt, pepper and sugar to taste if you like.
- Let the mignonette sauce sit, covered in the fridge, for at least 30 minutes for optimal flavor development. It can be made up to 2 days ahead if you like. Give the oyster vinaigrette a little stir before serving