Grilled Oysters Rockefeller is a modern twist to a classic recipe. A delicious appetizer with fresh spinach, parmesan, bacon, and panko.
David made me a fan of oysters, but I don’t think he knew what a superfan I would become. Unlike David, I love oysters, raw, fried, baked, stewed, or steamed. However, my favorite way to enjoy oysters is to turn them into Oysters Rockefeller.
I’ve always loved this dish, while David was never a fan. That is until he had my version of Oysters Rockefeller. This recipe is a kicked-up version of the traditional dish, using fresh spinach, parmesan, bacon, and panko breadcrumbs grilled over charcoal. Now, David keeps talking about making another batch of these delicious oysters.
Whether you’re having a backyard bbq or down by the seashore, you’ll love grilled Oysters, Rockefeller. And don’t worry, I’ve thrown in oven broiler cooking instructions too!
What Is Oysters Rockefeller?
Traditional Oysters Rockefeller is oysters cooked with a buttery spinach mixture and breadcrumbs on top, served warm on the half shell.
Oysters Rockefeller was created in 1899 at the Hermes Bar in New Orleans. It’s named for its delicious rich taste and for whom they were made, John D. Rockefeller, the wealthiest American during that time. According to the story, Oysters Rockefeller was created due to a local escargot shortage, the French word for snails.
Ingredients You Need to Make This Recipe
Whether you grill or bake Oysters Rockefeller in the oven, this recipe consists of three main components: the Oysters, the Spinach Filling, and the Toppings.
For this recipe, you need two dozen fresh oysters in the shell. Sometimes you can find fresh raw oysters in your local grocery store. We recommend trying your local seafood market or ordering them online.
The oysters used for this recipe came mail order from Rappahannock Oyster Company. We love their Rochambeau oysters because they have the perfect amount of sweetness and brine. – We are not affiliated with this company but highly recommend them.
The Spinach Filling
- Butter: unsalted is best because you can control the sodium
- Shallots: finely minced, so the shallots disperse evenly in the spinach mixture. Could substitute with minced onion if you don’t have shallots.
- Garlic: finely minced, so the shallots disperse evenly in the spinach mixture.
- Spinach: fresh baby spinach is best. You can use frozen spinach if that is what you have on hand. Just thaw the spinach and allow it to drain before cooking it.
- Cheese: freshly grated parmesan cheese is used in the spinach filling and topping. If you don’t have parmesan, Romano, Asiago, or Manchego will work perfectly.
- Wine: white wine or freshly squeezed lemon juice provides the spinach with more flavor and brightness.
- Seasoning: Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Do not season with salt. The saltiness of the parmesan cheese, bacon, and oyster brine is a gracious plenty.
- Bacon: Cook the bacon until it’s very crispy, so it’s easy to chop and crumble finely.
- Bread Crumbs: panko bread crumbs provide a nice crunchy texture and will soak up oils from the cheese and brine from the oyster.
How to Shuck Oysters
- Scrub Brush
- Kitchen towel
- Sharp Paring Knife or flathead screwdriver
We found a kit online for pretty cheap that had both gloves and a knife. You can purchase one HERE.
Step 1: Scrub the oysters well with a scrub brush. Discard any open oysters.
Step 2: Fold a towel over the oyster so that only the hinge is exposed.
Step 3: Work the oyster knife into the hinge. Don’t push the blade too hard. Wiggle the knife around until you can feel it slip between the top shell and bottom shell: twist and pry the shell open with the knife.
You may need to reposition the tip of the knife if the shell doesn’t want to open. Once the knife is in the correct position, there will be a pop, and you’ll feel the oyster release. It may take some practice to find that sweet spot on the oyster.
Step 4: Once you get the oyster pried apart, clean your knife blade before opening the shell. Bits of shell and any residual mud could get inside the oyster.
Step 5: Inside the oyster, a muscle connects the bottom and top shells. By prying the shells apart, it damages the muscle enough that it will no longer be able to shut again. But you need to sever it.
Start at the hinge with your clean knife and slide the knife across the oyster. Keep the knife as flat as you can against the top of the shell. Once the muscle is cut, the top shell should come off. Use your knife to free the oyster from the remaining shell. Try not to damage the oyster when doing this.
Step 6: Inspect the oyster not only by looking at it but also by smelling it. The oyster should look clear and fresh with lots of liquid around it. Throw out any oysters that do not appear fresh or that smell off.
How To Make Grilled Oysters Rockefeller
- Prepare the bacon.
- Make the spinach mixture and allow it to cool.
- Preheat the grill or broiler.
- Prepare the Oysters.
- Cook the Oysters Rockefeller.
How to Grill Oysters Rockefeller: Place the grill pan onto the hot grill grate, cover the grill and allow the oysters to cook until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are just golden, about 5-8 minutes.
How to Cook Oysters Rockefeller in the Oven: Broil the oysters on a bed of kosher salt or rock salt-covered baking sheet until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are just golden; about 2-4 minutes.
Serving Oysters Rockefeller
Serve grilled Oysters Rockefeller on a bed of rock or kosher salt with lemon wedges.
Sometimes you can find fresh raw oysters in your local grocery store. However, we recommend trying your local seafood market or ordering them online.
Shucked oysters will keep in an airtight container for about 5 days, while whole oysters will keep up to a month in the fridge.
The best way to store unshucked oysters is in their mesh or burlap bag or a bowl with a damp cloth over the top. Do not store the oysters on or underneath ice. Oysters will die if they sit in freshwater.
Serving oysters on top of kosher or rock salt not only keeps them stable and prevents them from spilling over, but the salt also helps them cook more evenly.
Gosh, this recipe turned out even better than I could have imagined. My Oysters Rockefeller-loving heart needs another helping.
See ya on the mountain!
Love seafood? Check out our other seafood recipes HERE!
Grilled Oysters Rockefeller (or Broiled)
- Kitchen Towel
- Paring Knife or Screwdriver
- 2 dozen fresh oysters in the shell
The Spinach Mixture
- ¼ cup butter (½ stick)
- 2 large shallots finely minced
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 package 9 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese divided
- 2 tablespoons white wine or freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 5 slices bacon cooked and finely chopped
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup kosher salt or rock salt to line the pan to stabilize the oysters (optional)
- Lemon wedges for serving optional
Step 1: Prepare the bacon.
- Fry the bacon ahead of time until crispy, then chop it into fine crumbs. Set aside until needed.
Step 2: Make the Spinach Mixture.
- Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic to the melted butter. Saute until they for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to brown evenly. Turn down the heat to low and continue to cook for 5 more minutes or until they are very soft. Do not let the shallots burn.
- Add in the spinach and toss with the shallots and garlic. Saute until the spinach is wilted. Add the wine (or lemon juice) half of the parmesan cheese and season with black pepper. Continue to cook the mixture for 2-3 more minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes, then place it in the refrigerator. Allow the spinach mixture to cool completely and solidify.
Step 3: Preheat the grill or broiler.
- Preheat the grill for direct high heat. Or heat the broiler to high.
Step 4: Prepare the Oysters.
- While the spinach mixture cools, rinse and clean the oysters with a scrub brush. Carefully open the oysters using an oyster knife or paring knife. Cut under the oyster releasing it from the shell. Place the open oysters on a grilling pan or sheet pan lined in kosher or rock salt.
- Add one tablespoon of the spinach mixture on top of each oyster. Then sprinkle each oyster with the remaining parmesan cheese, bacon bits, and the panko bread crumbs.
Step 5: Cook the Oysters Rockefeller.
- Grill: Place the grill pan onto the hot grill grate, cover the grill and allow the oysters to cook until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are just golden, about 5-8 minutes.
- Oven: Broil until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are golden; about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Serve the oysters on a bed of kosher or rock salt with lemon wedges.
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