East Coast vs West Coast Oysters

Last Updated on March 18, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Oysters are a popular delicacy enjoyed by people all over the world. However, not all oysters are created equal. In the United States, there are two main types of oysters: East Coast and West Coast. 

In this article, we will explore the differences between these two types of oysters and what makes them unique.

East Coast vs West Coast Oysters

There are several differences between East Coast and West Coast oysters. One of the most noticeable differences is their flavor profile. East Coast oysters tend to be brinier and saltier, with a crisp, clean taste. West Coast oysters, on the other hand, tend to be sweeter and creamier, with a more complex flavor profile.

Another difference is their size and shape. East Coast oysters tend to be smaller and more uniform in size and shape, with a classic teardrop shape. West Coast oysters, on the other hand, can be larger and more irregular in shape, with a deeper cup and more dramatic ridges.

The Origins of East and West Coast Oysters

East Coast oysters are typically found in the Atlantic Ocean, from Maine down to Florida. Some of the most popular East Coast oyster varieties include Blue Points from Long Island, Wellfleets from Massachusetts, and Chincoteagues from Virginia.

West Coast oysters, on the other hand, are typically found in the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska down to Baja California in Mexico. Some of the most popular West Coast oyster varieties include Kumamotos from Washington, Olympias from Oregon, and Belons from California.

Which Type of Oysters Is More Sustainable?

Both East Coast and West Coast oysters are considered sustainable seafood options. Oyster farming is an environmentally friendly practice that helps to improve water quality, provide habitat for other marine species, and reduce the impact of coastal erosion. 

However, it’s important to note that oyster farming practices can vary by location, so it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable oyster farm.

How to Taste Oysters?

oyster with ice, lemons and  vinegar

Tasting oysters can be a unique experience, as each oyster has its own distinct flavor profile. To taste oysters properly, follow these steps:

  • Hold the oyster in your hand or place it on a plate.
  • Use an oyster knife to gently pry open the shell.
  • Cut the oyster from the bottom of the shell.
  • Take a sniff of the oyster’s aroma.
  • Take a small sip of the oyster liquor (the clear liquid inside the shell).
  • Chew the oyster a few times and savor the flavor.

What Type of Flavor Profile Should I Order?

East Coast and West Coast oysters have different flavor profiles. East Coast oysters tend to be briny, with a mineral and seaweed taste, while West Coast oysters tend to be sweeter, with a more melon or cucumber-like flavor. Ultimately, the flavor profile you should order depends on your personal preference.

Can You Eat Oysters Raw?

Yes, oysters can be eaten raw. In fact, many oyster enthusiasts prefer to eat them raw to fully experience their natural flavor profile. However, it’s important to only eat raw oysters that have been properly handled and stored to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.

How Do You Serve Oysters?

Oysters can be served on a bed of ice or rock salt, and are typically accompanied by a variety of condiments, such as lemon wedges, horseradish, and mignonette sauce (a mixture of shallots, vinegar, and pepper).

Can You Store Oysters?

Yes, oysters can be stored, but it’s important to keep them alive and fresh. Store oysters in the refrigerator in a bowl covered with a damp towel, and make sure to keep them at a constant temperature between 35-45°F. Oysters should be consumed within 2-3 days of purchase.

How Do I Know if an Oyster Has Gone Bad?

If an oyster has gone bad, it will have a strong, unpleasant odor, and the meat will appear slimy or discolored. Additionally, if the shell is open, it means that the oyster has died and should not be eaten.

Can You Eat Oysters Year-Round?

While oysters are typically associated with summertime and outdoor dining, they can be eaten year-round. However, it’s important to note that oyster availability can vary depending on the season and location. Some oyster varieties may not be available during certain times of the year, so it’s always a good idea to check with your local seafood market or restaurant to see what’s currently in season.

Can Oysters Be Cooked?

Yes, oysters can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, frying, and sautéing [1]. Cooked oysters can also be used in a variety of dishes, such as oyster stew, oyster po’ boys, and oyster Rockefeller.


Whether you prefer East Coast or West Coast oysters, there’s no denying that these bivalves are a delicious and sustainable seafood option. When trying oysters for the first time, it’s important to take your time and savor the unique flavor profile of each variety. Whether you prefer your oysters raw or cooked, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this classic delicacy. Just remember to always choose a reputable oyster farm or seafood market to ensure the freshest and safest oysters possible.


Lauren Beck
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