Smoked Oysters with Cherry–Horseradish Relish


Try these simple-to-prepare oysters and top them with my Cherry-Horseradish Relish. You cannot believe how good this relish is! I make a similar relish in the fall using cranberries. One spring, I wanted to make the relish to top smoked oysters but it wasn’t the season for cranberries. Undaunted, I searched the farmer’s market for a cranberry replacement. I picked up a bag of fresh, dark Bing cherries for the relish. Oh, my! What a sweet surprise. Try them both, cranberry for winter with smoked oysters [or a smoked turkey] and cherry for spring and summer with smoked or grilled oysters—or fish—or just eat it with a spoon!

Smoked Oysters with Cherry–Horseradish Relish

Serves 4


  • Alder or cherry wood chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 16 freshly shucked oysters
  • 16 oyster half-shells (bottom shells)
  • 4 teaspoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Sea salt
  • 1 recipe Fresh Cherry–Horseradish Relish (see recipe below)
  • Instructions
  1. Build a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. In a gas grill, fill the smoker box or aluminum tray with wet wood chips. In a charcoal grill, place two handfuls of wet wood chips directly on the white-gray ash of the briquettes. Alternatively, you can smoke the oysters in the Cameron Stovetop Smoker, but do not soak the Cameron wood dust.
  2. Prepare the oysters: Place 1 raw oyster with a little of its juice on each half-shell on a tray. Put a pat of butter—about 1/4 teaspoon—and a pinch of sea salt in the center of each oyster. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  3. When the chips begin to smoke, reduce the heat and place the oysters, shell side down, in the center of the cooking grate and let smoke over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges curl and the butter bubbles.
  4. Remove from the grill and serve immediately with a dollop of the relish.

Fresh Cherry–Horseradish Relish

Makes about 3 cups

Good for Slathering: Smoked or grilled oysters; shrimp cocktail; trout; grilled pork loin or skirt steak

  • 3/4 pound fresh or frozen Bing cherries, pitted
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice and zest of 1 large lime
  • 1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw (turbinado)
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish (not cream-style), or more to taste
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Kosher salt
  1. Chop the cherries into 1/4 inch pieces. In a large nonreactive bowl, mix the cherries, lemon juice and zest, and lime juice and zest. Add the sugar, mix to combine, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix in the vodka and horseradish and let sit for 5 more minutes. Mix again and season with Tabasco and kosher salt. Let sit for another 5 minutes, taste, and correct the seasonings again.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use. The relish will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Mix well before serving
Elizabeth Karmel