freeze oysters

Can You Refrigerate and Freeze Oysters?

Oysters are known as a delicacy from the sea. They are best served raw and also make delectable dishes, such as the infamous oysters Rockefeller.

Depending on where you live, fresh oysters might not always be available in the store. Buying a few extra pints and save for future usage seems like a good idea. Unfortunately, fresh oysters have a limited shelf life.

So, you’re wondering about the possibility of freezing oysters. Can you freeze live oysters? What about freezing shucked oysters?

If you find yourself with similar questions above, you’re in the right place! In this article, we share the practical details of freezing and thawing oysters in different forms. Sounds interesting? Keep reading!

The Best Ways to Freeze Oysters

fresh oysters

Oysters are best enjoyed fresh. If you overstock them by any chance, you can always freeze raw oysters, either in shells or shucked.

It is worth noting that freezing may affect the oyster’s texture or flavor. Therefore, frozen oysters are no longer suitable for raw consumption. Frozen oysters are best to use for a cooked dish to mask the changes in the texture.

First and foremost, you should only freeze live oysters. Hence, you have to select and remove the dead one.

So, how do you know that oysters have died? That’s easy! Live oysters always keep the shell tightly closed. If the shell opens, give it a gentle tap. If it shuts, it is still alive. Otherwise, it’s dead and should be discarded. (*)

How to freeze live oysters in the shells

Freezing live oysters in shells helps to retain the flavor. But, it will take up a lot of space in your freezer. Follow the steps below to freeze oysters in shells.

1. Select the live oysters and remove the dead ones (see the tips above)

2. Wash oysters thoroughly under running water. Gently scrub the outside parts and get rid of any sand and dirt

3. Place oysters in a moisture-vapor bag or freezer bag

4. Label the bag with a freezing date or use-by date

5. Transfer the container into the freezer and let it freeze completely

How to freeze shucked oysters

Freezing shucked oysters take a few extra steps. But, it requires less space and the frozen oysters are ready to use once thawed. Here is how you should do it.

1. Select the live oysters and remove the dead ones (see the tips above)

2. Wash oysters under running water and gently scrub the shells to remove any sand and dirt

3. To shuck an oyster, hold it using a thick kitchen towel or a glove with the hinge facing toward you. Use your other hand to hold an oyster knife (a butter knife works well too!). Tip the blade into the hinge of the oyster and gently twist it. Move the knife from the hinge to the other side and separate the bottom and top of the shell. Oysters shells can be sharp, so be extra careful when shucking oysters. Plus, you also work with a knife

4. Keep the oyster in an upright position and take off the meat and the liquor (or juice). Be careful not to spill the liquor

5. If necessary, you can rinse the meat to remove any sand and dirt

6. Place the oyster and liquor in a shallow freezer-safe container, leave ½ headspace. If there is not enough liquor, add some water to cover the oyster

7. Seal tightly and label the container

8. Place the container in the freezer

How to Defrost Frozen Oysters

Oysters are highly perishable and spoil very quickly when left out at warm temperatures. You can safely thaw frozen oysters in the refrigerator or simply toss them into the pot while cooking.

Refrigerator thawing always takes more time, particularly for a large quantity. Make sure to thaw it ahead of time. Let the frozen oysters sit in the fridge overnight. They should be completely thawed on the next day. Cook the oysters immediately after thawing.

Depending on the recipe, it might be possible to use frozen oysters right into the pan. If that’s the case, that’s great! You can save time for thawing. Make sure to adjust the cooking time. The inside part of the oysters needs to be thoroughly cooked.

How Long Can You Freeze Oysters?

According to USDA, frozen oysters with shells can last up to 2 – 3 months in the freezer. Meanwhile, frozen shucked oysters have a slightly longer shelf life of 3 – 4 months. (*)

After thawing, it is best to cook the oysters as soon as possible and do not refreeze. Frozen oysters are not suitable to eat raw.

Frozen oysters with shells2 – 3 months
Shucked oysters3 – 4 months


How long can you keep oysters in the fridge?

Live oysters in shells last for only 1 – 2 days in the fridge. Shucked oysters can be kept refrigerated for 3 – 10 days. If you have cooked oysters, the dish can be refrigerated for 3 – 4 days.

Can you freeze oyster Rockefeller?

Yes, it is possible to freeze cooked oysters, such as a dish named oysters Rockefeller. Place the dish in a sealed freezer-safe container and freeze up to 1 – 2 months.

How do you know when oysters go bad?

Start with inspecting the shell. If it’s damaged, discard the oyster. For shucked oysters, if there is pink discoloration on the meat and off-odor, these are clear signs that oysters are bad.


Freezing oysters works very well to prolong the shelf life if done correctly. You can freeze oysters in shells or shucked ones.

Keep in mind that freezing alters the texture and flavor of oysters. Frozen oysters are more suitable for cooked dishes rather than served raw.

Frozen oysters are perishable and should only be thawed in the refrigerator. Cook oysters immediately after thawing. Discard oysters if you see spoilage signs such as pink discoloration and off-odor.

thaw frozen oysters

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