Food & Drink

Southern Soul Barbeque’s Smoked Oyster Spread

Makes 2-3 cups

A winter party favorite

photo: Courtesy of Southern Soul

During the relatively chilly months—you know, the “R” ones—coastal Southerners move the party from the garden to the fire pit, with oysters being the star. “In the cool season, we like to smoke local oysters in their shells over smoldering oak and hickory wood,” says Griffin Bufkin, co-owner of Southern Soul Barbeque, a popular joint in a refurbished gas station on St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Inspired by his mother, the third-generation St. Simons native recently added a smoked oyster spread to the restaurant’s menu. “I doctored mom’s recipe she has been preparing for years,” he says. “I added horseradish, kicked up the lemon, and put a tad more mayo in mine.” But the biggest change he made is to the main ingredient. “She uses the Reese Colossal smoked oysters from the tin. I adapted it for in-house smoked oysters—briny Cape May River oysters and Harris Neck’s stand up perfectly.” After an hour in the smoke, the bivalves take on a rich, mahogany hue—and a campfire flavor to match.

Bufkin tweaked the recipe for home cooks to allow for smoking the oysters over wood chips on a grill. The simple twist: he shucks them into a cast-iron skillet first. Serve the smoky, spicy snack with Bufkin’s favorite accompaniments: A big stack of Saltines and a cold can of your favorite beer.


    • 1 pint fresh oysters in their liquor (2 tins of smoked oysters in a pinch)

    • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened

    • 1 cup Duke's Mayonnaise

    • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

    • 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish

    • 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

    • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

    • 1 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce

    • 1 small shallot, grated

    • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley

    • 2 tbsp. chopped scallions


  1. If smoking your own oysters: Soak wood chips in a covered bowl of water for 30 minutes. Light a small amount of charcoal in one corner of your grill and burn until embers are glowing. Add drained wood chips to coals and let burn until no flames remain. (For a gas grill, wrap soaked and drained chips in foil, poke holes in top of foil packet, and place directly on the bars over a burner. Turn on the burner and heat until smoke appears, then adjust temperature.)

  2. Meanwhile, pour oysters and their liquid into a medium cast-iron skillet. Set the skillet on the opposite side of grill away from hot coals. Close lid and cook for 60 minutes (Grill temperature should be about 200 degrees).

  3. Combine remaining ingredients with a spoon or rubber spatula. Stir strained oysters (reserve juice) into cream cheese mixture. Incorporate reserved oyster liquor for extra smoky flavor (or save for spicing up strew, chowders, or Bloody Marys). Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle a bit of Old Bay on top to finish.