Valentine's Day Essentials: Oysters

With their luxurious texture, clean taste and plentiful toppings, there’s a lot to love about oysters. Learn how to shuck and cook them.

Raw Oysters with Classic Mignonette Garnish

Oysters have long been associated with love. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, is commonly depicted springing forth from the sea on an oyster shell. And it’s reported that Casanova, the 18th century lover, had dozens of them for breakfast. Whether or not oysters are an aphrodisiac, their luxurious texture and practically indefinable taste are rightly captured by a French poet as “like kissing the sea on the lips.” Oysters are certainly worth embracing this Valentine’s Day — or any special day with a loved one.


No need to go out for oysters — preparing them in your own kitchen is easier than you might think! In this video, our food editor Molly Siegler shares her tips and tricks for shucking oysters and how to serve them. Buyer's tip: If you’re wary of shucking them yourself even after watching this how-to video, oysters can be opened for you at our seafood counter.


New to oysters? With a briny, buttery, mild or even sweet taste, they are delicious raw and on their own or with a simple squeeze of lemon or dab of cocktail sauce. But you can also wow with something more — easily. You’d be in good company serving a classic mignonette opens in a new tab, a seasoned vinegar sauce. Or try this tangy Raw Oysters with Sweet Pear Mignonette opens in a new tab, an updated sweet-tangy riff of a mignonette.  

Here a few more toppings worthy of the lovely oyster:

  • Chimichurri sauce. This fresh herb sauce is an unexpected delight topped on fresh oysters. Here’s our recipe for a simple mild chimichurri opens in a new tab.

  • Chopped bacon and finely diced jalapeno. Did I have you at bacon?

  • Grated fresh horseradish with lemon or lime granita opens in a new tabThe sweet and tart combination of this classic icy Italian treat and horseradish is sure to impress.

  • Sriracha and lemon juice. Zip and zing!

Or turn on the heat! Broil your oysters for about three minutes with a dollop of parmesan-garlic or spicy citrus butter. Or if you live in a warmer climate, grill your oysters opens in a new tab

Fresh oysters

Caring From the Start

Show you care by buying farm-raised mollusks that meet industry-leading standards. What makes our farm-raised oysters, mussels, clams and scallops different? At Whole Foods Market, our standards require:

  • No use of pesticides

  • Rigorous water quality monitoring

  • Protection of the coastal environment

  • Annual evaluation of the health of sediments on the seafloor

  • Traceability from farm to store

  • Third-party audits of farms to verify that our standards are being met

We believe it’s important to help protect bottom-dwelling animals and the ecosystem beneath the farms. If mollusks are grown too densely, or in areas without enough water flow, wastes can build up that ultimately create sulfides. Sulfides are toxic to animals that live in the sediments. That’s why we require sampling of sediments under farms to ensure that our farm-raised mollusks are friendly to their downstairs neighbors.
Simple, citrus or spicy? What’s your favorite way to enjoy oysters? Share your tips in the comment below.   

This post was orginally published in 2015. Updated Febuary 2016. 

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