Oysters on the Half Shell with Beet Mignonette

Serve oysters on the half shell with a roasted beet mignonette for an easy and festive holiday appetizer. Vibrant in color, this recipe can easily be served for a small party or multiplied for a large get-together.

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

Oysters are synonymous with the holidays, at least in my opinion. Partially because I don’t live on a coast and don’t have access to fresh oysters at the drop of a hat, but also because they weren’t ever a staple in our house. So for me they’re reserved for a celebratory occasion, and what better time to enjoy them than the holidays?!

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

This simple appetizer recipe is as easy as one, two, three. Truly.

  1. Shuck your oysters
  2. Mix together the mignonette sauce
  3. Serve!

You may be tempted to have your fishmonger shuck the oysters for you, but I would encourage you to try your hand—no pun intended—at shuking them yourself. It’s not a fun job, I won’t deny that. But for the freshest raw oysters, it’s best to serve them soon after shucking.

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

What goes well with oysters and mignonette?

To drink:

  • Champagne (why not, right?!)
  • Dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc, Voigner, or Muscadet

To eat:

  • Cream-based soups like chowders and bisques (creamy potato soup would be great)
  • Creamy or buttery pasta (bonus if it has some truffle in it!)

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

What does oysters on the half shell mean?

If you aren’t well versed on oysters you may be wondering what “on the half shell means.” Unless you’re making an oyster soup or stuffing, oysters are most commonly served on the half shell, raw, broiled, grill or baked.

Served on the half shell means that the oyster has been cracked open, the top half of the shell has been discarded and the oyster “meat”—loosened from the bottom shell—is served in its bottom shell in its liquor (oyster liquid, aka flavor).

Photograph of one oyster on the half shell set on a bed of rock salt topped with a red mignonette

What does mignonette taste like?

Mignonette is a vinegar-based sauce/dressing classically served with raw oysters. Most often made of shallots and cracked black pepper, mignonette is briny.

What does mignonette mean?

Mignonette means a few different things but most commonly it refers to ground white peppercorns or a sachet filled with peppercorns and cloves used to flavor soups (like a bouquet garni).

However, in this instance it refers to a vinegar-based sauce.  

How do you make mignonette sauce for oysters?

It doesn’t get easier than a mignonette sauce. All it requires is mixing together 3 ingredients.

There are three main components of mignonette sauce.

  1. Vinegar (commonly red or white wine vinegar)
  2. Minced shallot
  3. Ground white or black pepper to taste

Simply combine ½ cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons minced shallot and season with pepper to taste. Chill sauce until ready to serve with oysters.

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

What’s the best kind of oysters for serving on the half shell?

This question doesn’t have a clear answer other than, it’s up to you! This one is all about preference and what characteristics you like in your oysters.

As an overarching, generalized statement, I like gulf coast oysters for their buttery flavor and meaty texture. But there’s definitely room on my plate for a northeastern oyster thats—again generalizing—a little leaner and more briny. West coast oysters range from sweet to briny and even minerally.

Like wine, it really comes down to trying different types of oysters from different regions. If you eat oysters every once in a while, you may not notice a difference. But make a point to try all sorts of oysters on a more regular basis and you’ll surely find a few favorites.

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

How to roast beets

Roasting whole beets is super easy to do and very hands off! Here’s how I roast beets:

  1. Heat oven to 400°
  2. Wash a few medium-sized beets. Trim greens, leaving about ½ inch of stems intact.
  3. Tightly wrap each beet individually in foil.
  4. Place foil-wrapped beets right on oven racks with baking sheet set on lower rack to catch any drips/leaks.
  5. Roast beets at least 45 minutes until a paring knife easily pierces them. Beets will cook at different rates, so start checking at 45 minutes and continue to check every 10 minutes; remove beets as they are done.
  6. Gently open foil, and gradually let steam escape.
  7. Using paper towels, peel and discard skin from beets (they peel right off).
  8. Store roasted beets in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

Looking for some more holiday appetizer ideas? Check out some of these ZK favorites!

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

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Oysters on the Half Shell with Beet Mignonette

Photograph of oysters on the half shell set on rock salt in a metal pan on a marble surface, topped with a red mignonette sauce.

Serve oysters on the half shell with a roasted beet mignonette for an easy and festive holiday appetizer. Vibrant in color, this recipe can easily be served for a small party or multiplied for a large get-together.

  • Author: Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes + shucking
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4–6 servings
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Ingredients

¼ cup tarragon or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons finely diced roasted beet

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1½ teaspoon minced parsley

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon honey

1 dozen fresh oysters, shucked, on the half shell

Crushed ice or rock salt for serving (optional)

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except oysters and ice; chill.

Arrange oysters on the half shell on a bed of shaved ice or rock salt. Spoon mignonette over oysters and enjoy.

Yum

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