Char-Grilled Oysters with Garlic-Herb Butter: The Seafood-Lover’s Fall Dish

Photo by Laura Davis. Pea crabs are often found lurking inside oysters.

By Laura Davis —  Fall has unofficially arrived here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia – which means, oyster harvests will be in full swing in the waters surrounding our little peninsula. From the salts on the seaside to the sweeter guys harvested out of the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers on the western shore, we have such an amazing variety of oysters here in our great state.

While they’re ideal in the simplest preparation of enjoying right out of the half shell, or breaded and single-fried, some-times it’s fun to do something a little fancier with them.

Oysters on the half, brushed with a simple garlic-herb butter while on the grill, couldn’t get easier, more delicious, or more impressive. If shucking isn’t your thing, you can steam them until they pop open, and then pry off the top shell – the garlic butter will still keep them plump and juicy.

If you’re really lucky, like I was on this particular day, you may find a tiny friend lurking inside your oyster. Pea crabs are considered a delicacy by many around here, tender yet slightly crunchy little crustacean parasites that like to set up shop inside our oysters. We eat them, but if it’s not your thing – by all means, serve them their final eviction notice before enjoying.

A few minutes on the grill is all you need, just until you see the butter start to sizzle. A little squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish. Enjoy them hot, and be prepared to reload the grill. You can’t eat just one!

Photo by Donna Good




Laura Davis is a food writer/photographer based on Chincoteague Island. Her work has been featured in publications such as Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Taste of Home, and Savor Virginia. She blogs about food, drinks, and new recipes at  


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