Easy Recipes Inspired By My West Coast Kitchen Garden On Vancouver Island

Crispy Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli

Crispy Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli

Oysters are plentiful here on Vancouver Island, farmed in our cold clean ocean as well as growing wild on many beaches. I love fresh small oysters raw (I was a young adult when I first tried raw oysters and was immediately hooked) but when I get the larger beach oysters, I love them pan fried like my dad made for us growing up. Dad would make a big pan full of breaded oysters and we would devour them with Kraft tartar sauce which is still my favourite store bought tartar sauce for it’s nice tangy flavour and creamy texture .

Crispy Pan Fried Oysters
Crispy Pan Fried Oysters

Oysters are incredibly healthy, low in fat and calories, high in protein and minerals, especially zinc, magnesium and iron. I often imagine if I lived 100 years ago, they would have been a huge source of food security in the winter. I usually buy my oysters locally, but I also forage for them occasionally as they are one of the easiest types of seafood to harvest. They are usually just laying on the beach or stuck on rocks and can be freed with a tap from a large rock held in your hand (I am sure that’s not the proper way but it works!) To shuck them, hold them firmly in your hand with the hinged side (pointier end) away from you. With your other hand, insert the oyster shucker right into the pointy hinged part and then twist gently until it lets go and starts to open. Gently slide the shucker along the upper part of the shell to free the muscle and then lift the top shell off. Here’s a quick tutorial from America’s Test Kitchen.

Pacific Raw Oysters From British Columbia
Pacific Raw Oysters From British Columbia

When buying them at the store, it is handy to buy the shucked oysters if you are going to pan fry them. If eating them raw or barbecuing them , buy live oysters in their shells and shuck right before eating or put unopened oysters right on the barbecue and they will self steam open. (If you are pregnant or have a compromised immune system, you should not eat raw oysters.)

Crispiest Pan Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce
Crispiest Pan Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce

In my humble opinion, the main requirement for fried oysters besides being very fresh, is that the oysters are crispy on the outside, like REALLY crispy! I have experimented with various techniques and recipes and believe the method below achieves the crispiest crust without having to deep fry. These are simple and easy and the whole recipe including sauce and frying time takes under 40 minutes. I usually enjoy these as a main course with a salad but it’s also fun to stuff them into squishy soft buns with the aioli or mayo and some shredded lettuce or cabbage.

Thick Tangy Lemon Caper Aioli or Mayo For Dipping Seafood
Thick Tangy Lemon Caper Aioli or Mayo For Dipping Seafood

Now that I’m an adult I prefer to make my own “tartar” sauce or other flavourful mayo or aioli for my oysters. My dipping sauce needs to have good acidity, a touch of spice and some texture from finely chopped shallots or capers. I vary the flavours often, sometimes more lemon, sometimes more spice and sometimes a little asian with togarashi spice. This sauce is mayo based and I like to use Hellman’s olive oil mayo to add to the fruity flavour.

Do you prefer raw or cooked oysters? If cooked, do you like them pan fried or do you have another favourite recipe? (You can check out my Christmas classic recipe, Oyster Stew here)

Bon Appetit, friends!

ox Sabrina

Crispy Pan Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli

This will serve 4 as a main course or more if served as an appetizer.  I like to serve mine with some greens for freshness and some pickled red onions for extra acid and crunch.  Alternatively, pop these crispy oysters into a soft squishy bun, add the aioli and garnish with shredded lettuce or cabbage as a po’boy sandwich.

Course Appetizer, Condiment, Dinner, Dip, Main Course, Seafood
Cuisine canadian, seafood, West Coast
Keyword Aioli, Caper, Crispy, Fanny Bay Oysters, Fried Oysters, Oysters, Sustainable Seafood, Tartar Sauce, Vancouver Island
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Servings 4
Author Sabrina Currie


Lemon Caper Aioli

  • 1 tbsp Shallot, Finely Chopped
  • 1 tbsp Capers, Roughly Chopped
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 c Mayonnaise
  • 4-6 dashes Tobasco Or other hot sauce
  • Optional Add In: 1 tsp Togarashi Spice Or Chili Powder

Crispy Pan Fried Oysters

  • 1 pint Shucked Oysters
  • 1 sleeve Saltine Crackers, Crushed About 2 cups before being crushed
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3/4 c Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper, Finely Ground
  • Optional Add In: 1 tsp Togarashi Spice Or Chili Powder
  • Vegetable Oil For Frying


Lemon Caper Aioli

  1. Mix together all aioli ingredients before preparing oysters so the flavours can meld.  This can be made ahead up to 2 days.

    Thick Tangy Lemon Caper Aioli or Mayo For Dipping Seafood

Crispy Pan Fried Oysters

  1. Pour oysters into a colander to drain while you set up 3 shallow bowls in a row.  

    In first bowl, mix together flour, salt, pepper and optional add in ingredients if using. 

    In second bowl, add eggs and beat until frothy.

    In third bowl, pour crushed saltines. (You can crush with your hands or the bottom of a heavy glass)

    Crushed Saltines or Soda Crackers Are Crispy Coating For Oysters
  2. Dredge oysters in flour, coat well in egg wash and then press gently in saltines to coat well and place on a plate, repeating until all oysters are coated. 

    Crispy Crunchy Coating For Frying Oysters
  3. Preheat a large pan (or two if needed) filled with a few millimeters of vegetable oil on medium heat until shimmery and then place oysters in the pan in one layer.  They can be quite close together.  

    Pan Frying Oysters From Vancouver Island
  4. Fry until golden on one side (4-5 minutes) and then flip and repeat on second side.  Adjust heat as need so that they will cook through without browning too fast.

    Crispy Pan Fried Oysters
  5. Garnish with mixed greens and pickled onions if desired and serve with the aioli.

    *Store leftovers in the fridge up to 2 days. Reheat any leftovers in a dry frying pan to re-crisp them.

    Crispiest Pan Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Dipping Sauce
Perfectly Crispy Pan Fried Oysters With Aioli And Pickled Onions
Perfectly Crispy Pan Fried Oysters With Aioli And Pickled Onions
Super Crispy Pan Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli (Mayo)
Super Crispy Pan Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli (Mayo)

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18 thoughts on “Crispy Fried Oysters With Lemon Caper Aioli”

  • These look so perfectly crispy and wonderful! Growing up in the Midwest , oysters weren’t so common. I’ve never summoned up enough courage to eat one raw! I would love these pan fried ones though! And your aioli sounds amazing!

    • Thank you Kelly! I hope you get a chance to try it. As for raw oysters, I think they’re worth trying at least once, just make sure they are small ones your first time. Another tip, squeeze some lemon on them a few minutes before eating and they will form up a bit.

  • I love oysters and also love to eat them raw. But pan fried is a delicious way to eat them too. Your recipe makes me want to go get some oysters asap!

  • Love oysters…and definitely cooked and not raw! These look amazing…and your recipe is making me believe I could try making these!

  • You’re so right–oysters fresh picked from the beach are the BEST! Love that you’ve used the West Coast tradition of saltines for the crunchy coating! A beautiful recipe!

  • I’ve never tried oysters because I can’t get past the raw part. But these crispy pan fried oysters!? I could totally get on board with them!! They look down right crunchy and delicious! I would absolutely stuff them in a taco or add them to a salad!

    • Oooh, in a taco would be brilliant, thanks for the idea Leanne! I’ve often had them as a burger too. I hope you try some oysters soon, they’re truly one of my top 10 favourite foods.

  • Oysters are definitely not something I eat a lot of, but I think if they looked as good as these I’d eat every day! Love how golden brown and crispy they look and that sauce sounds so so yummy..bet it would be delicious on other things too.

    • Thanks Dawn! I personally highly recommend them but I may be a bit biased 😉 As a west coaster, I really love fresh seafood 💛

  • Every time I read your posts I’m sooo jealous I don’t live in your land! Foraging for oysters – OMG awesome! In land-locked AB there is only berry foraging – no seafood. And I love that you added capers – those little guys are my fave!

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