If you are attending an Oyster Roast or just want to prepare oysters at home, then the oyster knife is a must have! Unlike other knives and instruments such as screwdrivers - yes, we all know someone who has tried it - the oyster knife is well designed to open oysters and remove them from the shell with minimal risk of breaking the shell or even injuring yourself.There are different types of oyster knife available and depending on what type and size of oysters you prefer; some knives are better suited than others. In this review we take a look at some of the different types of oyster knives, as well as giving the lowdown on oysters. If you are new to shucking, then we also offer a shucking 101 tutorial and we have reviewed ten of the best oyster knives on the market to help you to choose the right knife for all of your shucking needs.
The HiCoup oyster knife with its 2½" blade which comes with a sheath and satisfaction guarantee is our best pick of the oyster knives.
The dishwasher safe OXO Good Grips oyster knife with its 3" blade and non-slip handle is our budget pick oyster knife.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Oyster Knives
- 1. HiCoup Oyster Knife
- 2. OXO 35681 Good Grips Oyster Knife
- 3. Victorinox Oyster Knife
- 4. Dexter Russell New Haven Oyster Knife
- 5. Oyster Shucker Knife by Update International
- 6. Swissmar Shucker Paddy Universal Oyster Knife
- 7. MOMONI Premium Oyster Knife Set
- 8. Archer Premium Oyster Knife
- 9. TANG SONG Oyster Knife Set
- 10. R. Murphy/Ramelson Duxbury Oyster Knife
- Things to Consider Before Buying an Oyster Knife
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Oyster Knives
1. HiCoup Oyster Knife
The HiCoup oyster knife is made from 420 high carbon stainless steel and has a full tang mirrored finish blade. The handle of this knife is brown grained pakkawood for a firm and comfortable grip and it is also triple riveted.
Measuring 6½" long with a 2½" blade, as a lightweight knife and compact knife, it is better suited to shucking smaller oysters. This knife also has an oversized hand guard for extra safety and comes with a satisfaction guarantee. It also has a form fitting leather sheath with a belt loop.The odd buyer has experienced this knife breaking with limited use and some men consider the handle is too small for their hands. The smaller size of this handle can also make it more difficult to lever and turn when shucking.
2. OXO 35681 Good Grips Oyster Knife
With an ergonomic and soft non slip black plastic handle, the OXO Good Grips oyster knife is also dishwasher safe. This knife has a sturdy stainless steel 3" blade with a bent tip to aid prying shells open.Some owners consider that the blade of this knife is too thick, and it may not work as well with tougher oysters. It can also be prone to bending on tougher oysters and although the handle is designed to be non-slip, it can still get slippery when wet.
3. Victorinox Oyster Knife
The Victorinox New Haven oyster knife has a large red SuperGrip handle designed to remain slip resistant even when wet. With a 2¾" high carbon steel blade, this Swiss-made oyster knife is also NSF approved for using in commercial kitchens and is dishwasher safe.The odd owner has experienced damage in the form of chipping or bending to the tip of this knife when using and as a smaller knife it will not be as suitable for shucking larger oysters with.
4. Dexter Russell New Haven Oyster Knife
Made with high carbon, high alloy and stain free DEXSTEEL, the Dexter Russell New Haven oyster knife is made in the US. This is an NSF certified oyster knife with a white ergonomic Sani-Safe handle which means it can be used in commercial kitchens, however, it should be hand washed rather than put through the dishwasher.This knife has a 2¾" blade with a bent tip to assist with opening, however this tip is prone to bending further during use and some users have found the blade is too thick for some oysters.
5. Oyster Shucker Knife by Update International
Measuring a total length of 7" with a blade length of 3", the set of six shucking knives with hand guards is ideal for Oyster Roasts. These lightweight shucking knives have a metal hand guard and stainless steel blades with black handles made from firm-grip plastic.As a budget set, these are not full tang blades, and some users consider that the edge of the blade is on the thicker side, which can make it more difficult to use for oyster shucking.
6. Swissmar Shucker Paddy Universal Oyster Knife
The Swissmar Shucker Paddy is a universal oyster knife with an ergo-dynamic dual axis pistol grip polycarbonate handle. The 135 degree angle of this black handle keeps the forearm in alignment with the blade for better power transfer. This also has a finger guard and is ambidextrous. This shucker has a 3" HRC 55-58 stainless steel blade with a tapered tip and is suitable for all types of oysters. It can be cleaned in the dishwasher.This may not be as durable as more traditional types of oyster knives and the odd buyer has experienced the blade snapping in two. As a different shaped knife, this may not be comfortable for all users; especially if you have larger hands.
7. MOMONI Premium Oyster Knife Set
The MOMONI set of two premium oyster knives have full tang stainless steel blades and a non-slip and riveted wood design handles. Suitable for shucking different sized oysters, this knife set comes in a presentation gift box with a performance guarantee.These knives can be prone to breaking at the tip of the blade and some consider that they may better suit clam shucking rather than oysters as the blade is thinner and more likely to bend when levering tougher oysters.
8. Archer Premium Oyster Knife
Made from 420 stainless steel, the Archer premium oyster knife is a full tang blade with a brown grained pakkawood handle. This knife measures 6½" in total length with a 2½" mirror finished medium thickness blade which is pointed but not sharp.This knife also has a stainless steel hand guard and comes with a money back guarantee. As this does have a shorter blade it may not be as suitable for larger oysters and the absence of a bent tip means it is not as popular with all users.
9. TANG SONG Oyster Knife Set
With stainless steel blades, the TANG SONG oyster knife set comes as a set of eight which makes it great for Oyster Roasts. These oyster knives have blades just under 3" long with large and smooth wooden handles. These knives can be prone to rusting and as they are only part tang blades, there can be a risk of the blade breaking away from the handle with a tough oyster.
10. R. Murphy/Ramelson Duxbury Oyster Knife
Made in the US, the R. Murphy/Ramelson Duxbury oyster knife was designed in collaboration with Massachusetts oystermen. This oyster knife has a commercial grade 2⅛" high carbon stainless steel blade with a tough and pointed tip and the ‘Murphy green’ ergonomic handle is made from polypropylene. This knife should be hand washed only. This is not as suitable as other types of knives for opening larger oysters with, and if you do try to open larger ones, there is a risk that the tip will break.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Oyster Knife
An oyster knife will usually have a straight and symmetrical blade between two and a half and four inches long. The tip of an oyster knife is usually sharp, but the edges of the blade rarely so as an oyster knife only needs to be able to cut though the adductor muscle of the oyster; the rest of the knife’s work relies on twisting and levering. If you use any other type of blade or indeed tool for opening an oyster, not only do you run the risk of shattering the oyster, but there is also much more risk of seriously injuring yourself in the process.
As a rule of thumb, the bigger the oyster, the bigger the knife, but if the blade is too big, it will bend and potentially snap during use. The blade of an oyster knife should be a stainless steel such as 420hc or 440c as these are some of the more corrosion resistant stainless steels available. This means that the blade is less likely to corrode over time through its exposure to the natural sodium which oysters are rich in.
Some oyster knives are made with high carbon steel. The main advantage of high carbon steel is that it is harder than stainless steel, but, as high carbon steel is more prone to rusting and corrosion the blade will need more attention paying to it after use.
Here are some of the main types of oyster knife available as well as which oysters they best suit:
Best Used For….
2¾" straight blade with a round upturned tip and is well suited to the classic hinge method of opening
Small to medium Pacific and Atlantic oysters especially when presenting half shell. This will also shuck Kumamoto and Olympia but may be more difficult to insert into the hinge
Typically, this has a 4" blade which is broad and strong and often has moderately sharp edges. Often used commercially, especially for larger oysters
Large Atlantic oysters and medium/large European oysters
A popular oyster knife with a long narrow blade usually 3" to 4" and a pear shaped handle which makes it comfortable to hold. Can use all techniques except side
All types and sizes of oysters including larger Pacific and Atlantic oysters
Slightly longer 2½" blade which is sharp on both edges and it has a very pointed tip
European, Kumamoto, Olympia, small Pacific and small Atlantic oysters
Similar to a large Frenchman, this has a shorter 2" blade better suited to side opening
European and other small oysters
Oyster Knife Handle Considerations
A handle that is non-slip means you will not need to keep stopping to dry your hands off while shucking and will also help reduce the risk of injury. Rubber grip or plastic handles offer non-slip gripping, as will wood, although a wooden handle can get damaged over time with moisture exposure and can also begin to smell.
If you are only going to shuck half a dozen oysters or so at a time then the comfort of the handle will not be as much of an issue, but, if you intend on using it for any length of time then avoid irregular shaped handles, instead look for a rounded or pear shaped handle which will fit into your hand and allow your fingers and thumb to curl around it.
The handle of any oyster knife should allow you to keep it gripped comfortably while applying pressure on it and wearing mesh gloves if you choose to.
Some people prefer to use an oyster knife with a hand guard, but the guard can add extra weight to the knife. Many modern designs of knife have actually reduced the need for a guard by including a bulge in the handle where it meets the blade. This bulge is able to offer some additional protection to the hands.
As a bivalve mollusk, the oyster is a primitive invertebrate with a mantle which lines the inside of the shells. The oyster has a hinge between its two shells and a strong adductor muscle which anchors the oyster to the dot seen in the middle of the inner shell. The top shell of an oyster is flatter while the bottom shell is more rounded.
There are around 150 varieties of oysters in the world, but these belong to just five species, Atlantic, Pacific, Olympia, Kumamoto and European Flat. There are subtle taste differences across not only the species, but also the varieties, as a result of the waters and the habitat in which the oysters were raised.
The Atlantic (Crassostrea virginica) oyster was at one time the main oyster harvested in the US and was common along the US east coast. Due to overharvesting and disease, there is now only around 1% of the historical population left although attempts are being made to repopulate. These oysters are sweeter tasting but are more difficult to shuck.
The Pacific (Crassostrea gigas) oyster was introduced to the world for commercial farming by Japan. A fast and large growing oyster, this sits at about the middle of the shucking ease scale and has a good taste and texture. The Pacific oyster is now one of the most common in the world and found in most restaurants and cans.
The Olympia (Strea luridia/Ostrea conchaphila) oysters are small oysters that were indigenous on the US west coast and are now farmed small scale in the Pacific northwest. These are creamy in texture and stronger flavored.
The Kumamoto (Crassostrea sikamea) oyster is deep-cupped with a sweet and mild flavor. Originating in Japan, these were shipped to the US after the Second World War and are cultivated along the east coast. Sometimes called the ‘Chardonnay of Oysters’ the Kumamoto is just slightly larger than the Olympia.
The European Flat (Ostrea edulis) oyster was introduced to the eastern US and northern Pacific coasts for commercial oyster farming. This small oyster has a sweet taste and is easier to shuck than an Atlantic oyster.
Although wild oysters are still available, most are farmed from man-made oyster beds and reefs because the declining population of wild oysters.
There is no difference in taste or appearance between wild and farmed oysters of the same species, it is just that farming oysters reduces the significant impact of dredging on the natural habitats where wild oysters are raised.
If you are new to oyster shucking, there are different ways to shuck, whether from the side or through the hinge. With that in mind, we offer a basic 101 for preparing live oysters.
Before you start, it is worth knowing that the bigger the oyster is, the harder it will be to cut through the hinge and adductor muscle, so you may choose to ‘start small’.
Your oysters should always be alive and ice-cold - most closed oysters are alive. If an oyster is open, lightly tap the shell. If it is alive, it will shut immediately. If not, then trash it. When you hold a live oyster in your hand, it should feel full. If it does not feel full, then tap it against another oyster. If there is a hollow noise, then the oyster is dead and should be trashed. A live oyster will give a solid sound.
Fresh oysters should smell briny and sweet while those which are dead have more of a fishy smell. If an oyster does not smell right, then also trash.
Although alive when you start, the oysters will start dying within a couple of minutes of being shucked so if not serving immediately, they should be kept on ice and consumed or cooked within the following hour.
Many people wear mesh gloves for shucking as not only do oyster knives have a sharp point, but some shells can be very sharp. Instead of wearing mesh gloves, you may want to place the oyster in a folded towel ‘hot dog style’ on a hard surface to help protect your hand from injury.
Pick up the first oyster and rinse the shell under running fresh cold water and brush it to remove any grit which may otherwise enter the oyster when you open it.
Hold the oyster with the pointed (hinged) end facing you and the top shell upwards. Keep the oyster in this position as if you tilt it or flip it, the juices will run out.
Carefully work the oyster knife with a side-to-side movement into the hinge or next to it and once the knife is in, twist your hand and knife to separate the joint. A ‘pop’ means the hinge is now broken and you can slide the knife, firmly but gently, all the way around the edge of the shell until both halves become free.
Avoid chipping the shell as stray pieces will end up inside the oyster and also keep the shell still so that the oyster juices do not escape.
You can then slide the knife along the inner surface of the top shell and cut the adductor muscle where it attaches to the shell.
Carefully separate the two halves of shell without tipping out the juices and use the knife to slide under the adductor to fully release the oyster.
Place the oyster on ice while you continue to shuck the rest, repeating steps 1 to 4.
Around 100 people a year die of vibriosis in the US and another 80,000 people are infected with it. Unfortunately, oysters infected with Vibrio species of bacteria do not smell, look or taste any different to those which are Vibrio free. Thoroughly cooking oysters and other seafood such as clams and mussels is the only way to kill Vibrio bacteria.
Most people who develop vibriosis will suffer from mild food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, but one type of vibriosis, caused by V. vulnificus is more serious as it can cause infections of the blood stream and even limb amputations. There is a death rate of one in five for those who develop this type of vibriosis.
Some people, such as those with cancer, diabetes, HIV, thalassemia or hemochromatosis, as well as those who have had recent stomach surgery or are taking medicines to lower stomach acid levels are also more at risk of developing vibriosis or developing serious complications from being infected by vibriosis.
Although vibriosis is often caught through eating raw oysters, it can also be caused by getting raw seafood juices and brackish or salt water in open wounds. To reduce the risk of getting an infection from oysters, as well as eating them fully cooked, before you shuck oysters, you should cover any cuts or wounds on your hands or arms which may come into contact with the oysters, their juice or water.
After shucking, you should thoroughly wash your hands with plenty of soap and hot water and pay special attention to any new cuts which may have come into contact with the oyster, its juices or its water.
Raw oysters should always be kept away from cooked seafoods to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
We have seen in this review how the design of an oyster knife makes it easier to shuck while reducing the risk of injury, as well as some of the key features you should look for when selecting your oyster knife. Along with a basic shucking tutorial, we have also considered what you can do to reduce the risk of vibriosis while shucking.We hope you have enjoyed reading this review, whether you shuck oysters regularly, occasionally or are new to it all and, whichever way you choose to shuck and whatever the type of oyster; we trust our reviews of the best oyster knives have helped you to select the knife which will be best for you and for your oysters.