Calabash Fried Oysters Recipe

| October 4, 2020 | 6 Comments

Calabash Style Fried Oysters

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to make our Calabash Style Fried Oysters in your home kitchen. Great recipe from my seafood restaurant days. Printable recipe included.


Calabash Fried Oysters, enjoy!
This is how we fried our oysters back when I managed the kitchen for my brothers seafood restaurant. It’s really super simple. Calabash style means “lightly breaded and lightly fried.” Give them a try soon.


Calabash Fried Oysters, slider.

There was a time when folks would only eat raw oysters in months that had an “R” in it. In other words, stay away from them during the summer. But, those days are pretty much gone now and folks all over enjoy fresh oysters all year around.

There’s a lot behind the “R” month theory, but  we will not go into that now for it would take a while to explain.

Here in North Carolina, our WILD oyster season generally runs October thru March, so our season will be opening in just a few days from the date of this writing. Thankfully though, we have many oyster farmers in our areas that grow oysters in bags or cages, and we can enjoy them all year around.

This is yet another recipe in a series of recipes that I’ve placed here on Taste of Southern based on my days as the kitchen manager for my brothers seafood house restaurant from back in the 80’s. I helped him open his “Captain Gordon’s Seafood Restaurant,” back then and I managed the kitchen for the first couple of years the restaurant was in business.

I’ll post a link to some of the other recipes I’ve included in this series down below. I’ve done Creamy Cole Slaw, Fried Catfish, Calabash Fried Shrimp, Hushpuppies and this one for Calabash Fried Oysters as a few examples.

Calabash style basically means the seafood is “lightly breaded and lightly fried.” It comes from a style of cooking seafood from a little city down near our state line with North Carolina and South Carolina, just a few miles away from the popular travel destination of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Oysters are not cheap. I enjoy them every chance I get, but not as often as I would like. Smile.

You can buy fresh oysters, still in the shell, from your local fish monger, or you can often find pint containers of shucked oysters in your local grocery store in many places. Either will work find.

They’re really simple and easy to prepare following our restaurant recipe. They’re super delicious and I hope you’ll enjoy them often.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!


Calabash Fried Oysters, ingredients you'll need.
Calabash Fried Oysters Recipe – You’ll need these ingredients.

I’m using fresh oysters because I’m only making a few for myself. You can certainly use shucked oysters like you’ll find in a container in most of your local grocery stores.

We bought shucked oysters in gallon sized containers back in the restaurant days. We thought paying 30-35 dollars for a gallon was pretty expensive back then. Have you priced any oysters lately? About 3 times that much today in my area.


Calabash Fried Oysters, rinse the oysters.
If you’re using fresh oysters, place them in a colander and rinse them well under cold running water.


Calabash Fried Oysters, pop them open.
You’ll need a oyster knife to pry open the oysters. Just be careful. I’ve never been very good at this to begin with, but these were some of the hardest oysters to try and open that I think I’ve ever encountered. Smile.


Calabash Fried Oysters, opened.
By the time I’d opened the second one of the dozen I had purchased, I might have been wishing I’d just bought a pint of oysters already shucked. But, I made it through.


Calabash Fried Oysters, sample.
I realize oysters are an acquired taste, just like many other foods. This is the way I like to enjoy them if I’m going to eat them raw. Place the oyster on a saltine cracker and pour on a bit of Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Oh that’s good.

My brother use to sample raw oysters straight out of the gallon bucket whenever we got a new order in. I’d flinch and draw up just watching him because I could not eat them that way.

It took many years later for me to ever try one raw. Since then, I’ll eat a couple of them raw, but they taste best to me when they are fried. How about you?


Calabash Fried Oysters, an hour later.
This is about an hour later. It really did take me a while to get them all open. They were closed up tight for sure.

If you’re using shucked oysters, place the oysters and some of the liquid in a small container.


Calabash Fried Oysters, baby crab.
Look! One of the oysters had a baby crab inside the shell. Some folks prize these to eat as well. I might have just passed on that. Smile.


Calabash Fried Oysters, add some milk.
Coat the oysters in the evaporated milk. I did pour off some of the liquid so the oysters would hold on to more of the milk. And, be sure you’re using Evaporated Milk for best results.


Calabash Fried Oysters, add flour.
Place one cup of flour in a small mixing bowl.

We kept our dredging flour in a large restaurant bus pan back in the day.


Calabash Fried Oysters, add the corn meal.
Add 1/4 cup of Corn Meal to the flour.


Calabash Fried Oysters, add salt.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Always start out light with the salt. You can fry up an oyster to see if you’d like to add more. You don’t want to over salt these. Testing also gives you an excuse to eat a fried oyster before you serve them to the family or guests. Smart thinking don’t you think?


Calabash Fried Oysters, mix well.
Grab a fork or whisk and mix all the ingredients together.


Calabash Fried Oysters, add the oysters.
Place a few of the oysters into the mixture. Use your hand and toss the oysters around until fully coated with flour.


Calabash Fried Oysters, shake off any excess flour.
Lift them out and shake off any excess flour.

At the restaurant, we had a shaker basket that we kept in the flour. We would toss the oysters around to coat them, then place them in the shaker basket and gently shake off the excess flour. From there, we tossed them into the fryer.


Calabash Fried Oysters, place in hot oil.
At home, I use a small sauce pot and fill it just under halfway full with cooking oil. I’m using canola oil here because it handles high heat better. Bring the oil up to 350F degrees for frying and drop in a few of the oysters at a time.

At the restaurant, we fried all of our foods in pure lard that we bought in 50 pound boxes. It gave the fish, seafood and hushpuppies really great flavor, but you have to make sure you’re getting it to the customer while it’s still hot. You can’t let food sit around and cool or the customer will start tasting the lard in the food. Kind of a greasy texture.


Calabash Fried Oysters, stir gently.
Stir them around a bit once they start floating to the top. They only need a minute to cook. You are now just watching for them to get a light golden color on them and they’re done.


Calabash Fried Oysters, remove when done.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the oysters when they are lightly colored.

Place the oysters on a wire rack if you have it. Or, place them on a piece of brown paper bag. Paper towels make your fried foods a bit soggy in my opinion.


Calabash Fried Oysters, serve hot.

Serve them up while they are still nice and hot. I love these things and could eat a plate full.

At the restaurant, we served what we called the Captains Combo Platter. It came with fried fish, shrimp, oysters, deviled crab, French fries or baked potato, Cole slaw and of course – hushpuppies. We piled it high on the plate and it was one of our biggest sellers. You could also add clam strips and scallops for a little bit extra.


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Calabash Fried Oysters, printbox.

Calabash Fried Oysters Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 1-2 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish, Seafood
  • Method: Deep Fried
  • Cuisine: American, Southern


Calabash Style Fried Oysters are “lightly breaded and lightly fried.” Use fresh oysters, or use shucked oysters by the pint from your local grocery store. Quick and easy.



1 pint shucked Oysters or 12 fresh oysters in the shell
1/4 cup Evaporated Milk
1 cup Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup Yellow Self-Rising Corn Meal
1/2 teaspoon Salt


Rinse fresh oysters in the shell under cold running water.
Remove oysters from the shell and place in a small container.
Add enough evaporated milk to cover the oysters. Stir to coat.
Place flour in a small mixing bowl.
Add corn meal.
Add salt. Stir to combine.
Place oysters in flour and toss well to fully coat.
Place medium saucepot over Medium heat on stove top.
Fill pot just under half full with cooking oil. Heat oil to 350F degrees.
Gently shake any excess flour from the oysters.
Place a few oysters into the hot oil.
Stir the oysters when they float to the top. Fry until light golden brown.
Oysters are done when lightly golden colored. Usually takes just a minute or two.
Remove oysters when done. Place on wire rack to drain prior to serving.
Serve while hot.


Use fresh oysters from the shell, or shucked oysters. Buy pints of shucked oysters at most of your favorite grocery stores.

Keywords: calabash fried oysters, deep fried oysters, southern, lightly breaded, lightly fried, north carolina, seafood, quick and easy

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You might also like: Southern Fried Catfish

Or, maybe this one?  Creamy Cole Slaw

Ok, this one?  Calabash Fried Shrimp

Round out your seafood dish with these:  Southern Hushpuppies

How about this? Eastern North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ in the Oven





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Category: Fish-Seafood, Main Dishes

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (6)

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  1. Julia says:

    One of my favorite meals is fried oysters, cole slaw and hush puppies! I also like raw oysters on a saltine with a little horseradish on top. I look forward to making fried oysters using your recipe because I know they’ll be good. I’ve tried many of your recipes and have always been very pleased with the results. I’ve read that you’ve had some health issues and hope you’re doing well. You are in my prayers. Best wishes to you!

  2. Milo says:

    Just read your recipe for Calabash Fried Oysters …
    Can’t wait to make it …
    As I mentioned in a previous rely .,,
    I raise Oysters on Long Island and enjoy them raw on the half shell …
    Cocktails sauce does not excite me so I make a great accompaniment sauce for my Oysters …
    Wine Vinegar, diced Shallots,
    Garlic a couple twists of Pepper …
    I freeze it and when ready I squeeze some Lemon on the Oyster and load some of MY
    Vinaigrette …
    Stay Safe

  3. Lane says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with fasting. I felt promoted yesterday to start a fast soon and then opened your email today which feels like confirmation. Praying for healing for you tonight. Many Blessings

  4. Cheryl Ann says:

    In Iowa, Our new saying is if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour–It will change! We have hit a roller coaster of temps- One minute it is 75-then bam a thirty degree drop–then bam back up again–all in the same day! Last night it was only 34 here–not a number I look forward to seeing! Today it’s supposed to stay in the 50’s, but tomorrow–back up to 75! There’s an almost artic wind that blows at night-just chills to the bone! Not a fan! Will join in prayer tonight–did my heart good to see President Trump praise God on the television yesterday! And, of all things Home Depot sent me an email and wished me a Blessed Weekend–When was the last time a business did that! They will definitely see much more business from me since I know they are willing to take a stand! Something we ALL need to do! Have a wonderful day!

  5. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing your ‘fasting’ experience – I always enjoy your ‘food for thought.’ Prayers are answered in unexpected ways.

  6. Debbie Bazemore says:

    Good morning Steve, I love oysters but only fried. You made me hungry so I’m going to get some today and fry them just like your recipe. Have a blessed day.

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