Raw Oysters Garnished with Savory Lemon Granita

The holiday season is filled with such heavy fare that by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around it’s natural to be craving something a little lighter. It’s also natural to feel less enthusiastic about heading into the kitchen to cook yet another feast. A seafood extravaganza solves both dilemmas, especially if your main course is a platter of raw oysters.

Slurping a dozen raw oysters down is the culinary equivalent of taking a traditional New Year’s Day polar bear plunge. The crisp, clean, invigorating flavor of oysters makes one feel strong and alert and happy to be alive. They require little to no preparation, yet can be the centerpiece of even the most extravagant celebrations. If you’re going the casual route, that’s fine too. Raw oysters are appropriate whether you’re ringing in the New Year wearing a tuxedo and formal gown or shorts and flip-flops.

However you celebrate, there’s nothing wrong with cracking open the shell and simply eating the oysters in their briny juice. If you want to up the experience however, garnishing the oysters with a tiny spoonful of icy lemon granita will make the meal extra special. Partially frozen lemon juice seasoned with a hint of savory sea salt, black pepper and red onion is outrageously good with raw oysters. The oyster is not overwhelmed by the jolt of lemon, rather, the two flavors blend perfectly as they go down.

The slushy granita melts quickly, so add it right before you eat the oyster. As you bring the open shell that cradles the little creature towards your mouth, you’ll get a whiff of fresh lemon and seawater. Your palate will be hit with a hint of salt, a tingle of pepper and red onion and a fresh burst of ice-cold lemon. And then…Slurp! Gulp! The oyster is gone. Plan to eat at least a 1/2 dozen yourself; the flavor is so delicious but so subtle and fleeting that you’ll want to experience it over and over again.


This will make enough lemon granita for several dozen raw oysters. It goes without saying that the oysters should be as fresh as possible. Ideally, buy them only 24 hours before serving. Keep the oysters refrigerated but not submerged in water. Open the shells right before eating. Setting the open shells on a bed of crushed ice keeps them cold and keeps the shells from tipping and spilling out the natural juice. To shuck an oyster, you’ll need an oyster knife.

How to shuck an oyster: First scrub any dirt from the shell under cold water. Next, hold a folded kitchen towel in one hand to cradle the shell and protect your hand from the knife if it slips. Hold the oyster with the rounded side down, facing your palm. Examine the shell and notice there is a hinged point where the upper and lower shells connect. Wedge your oyster knife down into the hinge and turn it with a little bit of pressure to pop the shell open. Slide the knife between the two shells to fully open it up. Remove the upper shell.

Savory Lemon Granita

  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion


Mix together the lemon juice, water, salt and pepper. Pour into a dish that allows the liquid spread out and become shallow, such as a 2-quart square baking dish.

Put the dish into the freezer for 30 minutes, then mix and rake with a fork. Keep the lemon juice in the freezer for another 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes with a fork. Mixing the lemon juice with the fork keeps the texture slushy and insures that the liquid doesn’t freeze solid.

Remove the granita from the freezer. Stir in the red onion. Spoon a small amount of the lemon granita into a raw oyster shell before eating.

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29 thoughts on “Raw Oysters Garnished with Savory Lemon Granita”

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  1. Oooh, how I wish you’d posted this a day or two earlier! I don’t think the seafood store is still open here….. Maybe next week!

  2. I could eat them over and over…as they would keep coming back up…YUCK!

    1. That’s nice! Thanks for sharing!

      I’m curious. Did you read the article first, or did you just scroll directly down to the comments section to deposit your two smelly, asinine cents on the ground in front of the rest of us?

      What really annoys me is all the NOPE-NOT-GONNA-NO-WAYS on here telling us how much they hate foods that are the least bit strange, from the recipes on here — without even trying it. Good for you! Now go away!

      If you have nothing nice or constructive to say, you know where the ‘back’ button is.

      1. Tried the slimy things many times. Back when i was young i even tried them while I was drunk….Yes…YUCK!

        1. i ditto @toaster.
          this is a good article providing alternatives w/easy to make, yet nutritious, food.
          ‘back’ button is always easier to use if we dislike things.
          (on my way to the seafood market to get some oysters)

  3. This would be a good use for the meyer lemons on my tree.

  4. Can’t wait to try the Lemon Granita ! That is going to be a favorite, especially after my Meyer trees start producing.

  5. Where do you develop your recipes?? Can I sign up to be a taste tester? 😀 I especially wouldn’t mind testing these for you!

  6. Oh yum, I do like me some raw oysters. When I was a wee kid I had the opportunity to eat raw shellfish minutes out of the water that I’d gotten myself, near the outer banks. I still smile when I remember that my older brother was too scared to eat them. And that a scallop squirted him in the eye.

  7. Never tried oysters before, but never saw such a colourful description of eating them either! I’ve been persuaded 🙂

  8. I wonder what adding a bit of fresh horseradish would be like? Might have to try it both ways.

  9. Never tried them raw. This is one of the things I will have to try this year.

    It’s a bit of a yuck factor, but I will try them. 🙂

  10. Mmmm… I love raw oysters. Never had one cooked, but they’re so good raw that I never bothered. I especially love a drop or two of hot sauce with some lemon on my oysters. To those of you who don’t like the taste, the hot sauce might change your minds. To those of you who don’t like the texture….whatever – more for me!

  11. Lucked out and had the ingredients on hand…made this last night and the granita was AMAZING! I found myself eating the icy yumminess after the oysters were gone…

    PS-the people who are posting negative things about this sound remarkably similar to the 7th graders I teach…Ewww! Icky!! Gross!!…Really?! Why bother to post!

  12. Already brought in the New Year with raw oysters and dirty martinis might have to go for round two this week

  13. I think I ate about a ton of oysters and whelks and raw seafood on holiday in France…it was awesome!

  14. Yuck, total yuck.

    I know, I know … “When’s the last time you tried them.” “Try them again, with an open mind.”


    There’s some Primal food I feel this way about. But I’m still glad I’m Primal.


  15. No fresh oysters here in Minnesota. 🙁 I bet the lemon granita would go great with fish though???

  16. ok guys, nothing is wrong if someone expresses displeasure in something here. they are saying “YUCK, I hate the taste of oysters” not “YUCK I hate this article” i for one found the article was nice, the pictures were nice, but i hate oysters, so i would not be giving this a try. I have tried oysters all ways, and it is just not for me.

    and also, this is a comment board, and there is nothing saying that a person can only comment if they are leaving a comment that “you” like, as long as they are not being ridiculously mean to anyone.

  17. Raw oysters may be delicious, but they can also be a quick ticket to the porcelain throne. After getting a terrible case of norovirus from merely undercooked oysters at a fancy Japanese restaurant, raw oysters are off my list of edibles, permanently. Nothing tastes good enough to justify that much pain.

  18. Thanks for sharing! Sorry high school
    kids or adults with that mentality hijaked your comment feed. Love raw oysters and yes there is a risk for an illness of some sort but there are risks in most aspects of life.