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Published December 5, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This fresh Oysters Rockefeller recipe is served on the half shell and is coated in cream, prosciutto ham, and cheese for an unbelievable appetizer. Even if you aren’t sure about oysters, the flavor in this recipe is amazing.
There are many variations of Oysters Rockefeller, and it’s been served on menus throughout America for the past century. It classically consists of oysters on the half shell that are topped with a combination of spinach, butter, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. However, the original recipe was said to have used watercress instead of spinach. They are then commonly baked or broiled before serving.
The name of the chef that created this classic in New Orleans is Chef Jules Alciatore, and the restaurant’s name was “Antiones.” Miraculously enough, Antoine’s restaurant is still around to this day. Once Chef Jules recreated a classic escargot recipe from fresh oysters on the half shell, he decided, with its extremely rich creamy flavor, to name it after the richest man at that time, Rockefeller. So obviously, in the end, you get “Oysters Rockefeller.“
Where do Oysters Come From?
You can get oysters from around the world, but in the United States, a huge portion of them come from the east to the Northeast coast and into Canada. From Rappahannock in Virginia up to Blue Point, which I used in this recipe, in New York.
I believe the best come from colder waters, so I prefer the ones that grow in the Northeast.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Oysters – You will need fresh, shucked oysters for this recipe. Any oyster breed will work.
- Onion – I like to use onion and garlic for the sauce that goes on top.
- Wine – This is optional to help add flavor to the oysters while cooking them. You can use chardonnay, pinot grigio, or sauvignon blanc.
- Cream – Heavy whipping cream makes a garlicky sauce to cover the oysters.
- Spinach – Baby spinach is best to use, but regular fresh stemmed spinach will work.
- Ham – I prefer to use prosciutto ham. However, you can use cooked bacon, pancetta, Canadian bacon, or ham.
- Cheese – The combination of asiago cheese and Parmesan is very good.
- Breadcrumbs – You finish the top with breadcrumbs before baking or broiling them.
How to Make Oysters Rockefeller
The first part of making this is shucking the oysters. You do this by holding the oyster in 1 hand in a towel, wedging the shucking knife into a gap in the shell, and slowly working the knife up and down and back and forth until it opens. Be very careful doing this, as it can be dangerous working with the shucker knife and putting too much pressure on the oyster.
When making this, I like to caramelize up some garlic and onions in a sauté pan.
Add some cream and cook it until it becomes super thick, like an alfredo sauce.
From there, I fold in some baby spinach and cook it over low heat until just wilted but not mushy.
While you keep that tasty cream sauce warm, you want to cook the shucked oysters gently and quickly in some olive oil in a separate pan.
Deglaze with some chardonnay wine and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. The wine just helps bring this to the next level, but it’s not necessary.
Once everything is cooked, you place the cooked oyster back on the half-shell.
Top off with the spinach and cream.
Next, add on the prosciutto ham, and then some asiago cheese.
Finish by evenly sprinkling on the breadcrumbs, and some parmesan cheese then off to the oven to broil and brown them.
Serve them on a platter
How to Serve It
Oysters Rockefeller is commonly served on rock salt. You put oysters on the salt so that they hold into place without tipping over, which would result in all the toppings sliding off. I had some flat oysters, which seems to be the case for blue points, so I did not use rock salt in this recipe.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-ahead: These are meant to be eaten as soon as they’re done cooking.
How to Store: Store them covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. They will freeze well covered tightly for up to 2 months. It’s best if you freeze them raw before the procedure of placing them under the broiler. To reheat frozen raw, place on a sheet tray and bake in the oven at 400° for 12-15 minutes.
How to Reheat: Add the oysters to a pan, cover with foil and bake in the oven at 400° for 6-8 minutes or until hot and the cheese has re-melted.
Chef Notes + Tips
- You can use frozen spinach with this recipe. Just ensure it is rinsed and well-drained.
- Feel free to substitute Pecorino Romano for the Parmesan.
More Seafood Recipes
Oysters Rockefeller Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 peeled small diced yellow onion
- 2 cloves finely minced garlic
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups packed baby spinach
- 24 whole shucked oysters on the half shell oysters and shells divided
- 1/4 cup chardonnay wine
- 2 ounces julienne prosciutto ham
- 2 ounces shredded asiago cheese
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
- shredded Parmesan cheese
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Preheat the broiler to high heat.
- In a large sauté pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the onions and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes while constantly stirring.
- Once they are lightly brown, add in the cream and reduce until the cream is the consistency of Alfredo sauce.
- Once the heavy cream is to the desired consistency, add in the baby spinach and cook until mixed in and slightly wilted.
- Season the mixture with salt and cracked black pepper. Set the pan aside.
- In a separate medium sauté pan on medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add in the raw oysters (without the shell) and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes to slightly cook.
- Add the Chardonnay wine to deglaze the pan while you sauté the oysters for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Place the oyster shells on a sheet pan and divide the cooked oysters among the shells. There should be 1 oyster for 1 shell.
- Top each oyster with a little bit of the cream-baby spinach mixture followed up with julienne prosciutto ham and shredded asiago cheese. Divide all the ingredients between the oysters.
- Finish by evenly sprinkling on the breadcrumbs and then parmesan cheese.
- Broil the pan of oysters in the oven on high for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
- To Plate: Remove oysters and shells from the pan and add to a tray along with lemon slices.