12 Ways to Cook With Clams

Keep Clam and Carry On

White clam sauce

The Spruce

Clams are in the spotlight with our best clam recipes collection. We've got fantastic ideas here for delicious ways to prepare and enjoy this popular shellfish. With recipes like buttery baked clam appetizers and clam dips to clams steamed in beer, Italian-style linguine with clams, stir-fried clams in black bean sauce, and of course, classic clam chowders, you'll find recipes here for cooking fresh, live clams, plus several that use canned clams.

When using fresh, live clams, it's best to cook with them the day that you buy them. At the fishmonger's, look for live clams that smell sweet, without any fishy odor. They should have a pleasant sea aroma.

Clean them before cooking by thoroughly scrubbing the outsides of shells with a stiff brush. Then place in the fridge, covered in fresh, cold water. Clams will self-clean by filtering the water through their shells, pushing out much of the salt and sand they may have collected.

Always shuck (open) clams over a bowl, to catch all the wonderful clam liquor, which can be used in sauces. Clams cook quickly, so this seafood is best cooked gently over low heat, just until the shells open, when the meat will be tenderest (overcooked clams can become tough). Discard any clams with unopened shells after cooking.

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    Stuffed Clams With Bacon

    Stuffed Clams with Bacon

    Andre Baranowski/Getty Images

    To make sophisticated "deviled" stuffed clams as an appetizer, remove clams from shells, mince the meat, and pan-saute with diced onion and green bell pepper. Add in crumbled fried bacon, Tabasco, and breadcrumbs, stuffing the mixture back into clam shells to broil until browned.

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    Japanese Clam Soup

    Asari No Sumashijiru (Japanese Clam Soup)

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

    Short-neck clams (called asari in Japan) are packed with flavor and require little seasoning. Cook them simply in the Japanese style by boiling in hot water until shells open, allowing the clams' natural liquor to meld with the water and create a wonderfully aromatic, clear broth. Serve immediately, topping bowls with lemon peel.

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    Deep-Fried Clams

    Deep Fried Clams

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    Fried clams with a well-seasoned cracker crumb coating are delicious and easy to make at home, with no deep-fryer required. Use a high-sided Dutch oven to fry fresh shucked clams, or canned whole baby clams, allowing to drain on paper towels before serving hot, with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing.

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    Easy White Clam Sauce

    White clam sauce

    The Spruce

    Linguine with clam sauce is a popular Friday night dinner in Italian-American households, but special enough to serve company. This easy recipe cooks chopped clams with garlic, onions and parsley to form a tasty sauce for tossing with hot cooked pasta noodles.

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    Classic New England Clam Chowder

    Classic New England Clam Chowder

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    New England is known for its white clam chowder, which begins with a simple flour and butter roux. When reserved clam juice is added, the base becomes thick and creamy, creating a luscious sauce for canned clams, onions, and potatoes. Add canned clams at the last minute, cooking gently just until heated through.

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    Slow Cooker Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder

    Slow Cooker Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Manhattan clam chowder is a tomato-based seafood stew that includes bacon, onion, potatoes, and minced clams. Cook up a big pot of chowder to enjoy with crusty bread on cold autumn and winter nights with this easy recipe that bubbles away all day in your slow cooker, developing fantastic depth of flavor.

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    Clams in Salsa Verde

    Clams in Salsa Verde

    Leon Brocard/CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

    Clams in salsa verde is a tasty "tapa" originating in the Basque region of Spain, which is well-known for its world-class seafood cuisine. Boil whole clams in a mixture of white wine and water, for adding to a fresh-tasting, pan-thickened green sauce flavored with onion, garlic, and flat-leaf parsley.

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    Pasta With Red Clam Sauce

    Pasta With Red Clam Sauce

    Melanie Acevedo/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Can't get reservations at the local Italian restaurant? Shake out the tablecloth and get cooking this easy, trattoria-style pasta with red clam sauce. Simply add canned clams and their juices to anchovies, capers, white wine, and herbs to prepared tomato sauce and toss with hot cooked pasta noodles. Buonissimo!

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    Steamed Clams With Bacon and Beer

    Steamed Clams With Bacon and Beer

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    Use manila or littleneck clams for this delicious, brothy seafood main dish that steams the tender bivalves in beer, with sauteed bacon and onions adding loads of savory flavor. There is no need for extra seasonings, as the bacon will infuse the broth with its salty goodness.

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    Garlicky Baked Clams

    Garlicky Baked Clams

    The Spruce/Molly Watson

    Clams baked on the half-shell with a spicy, garlicky breadcrumb topping is an easy, elegant hors d'oeuvre to serve at cocktail parties and New Year's Eve soirees. These succulent starters pair well with champagnes, dry white wines, and ice cold lagers.

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    Spanish-Style Murcian Clams

    Spanish Style Murcian Clams

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    To make this Murcian-style clam appetizer, bathe littleneck clams in a colorful and tasty sauce of white wine, sweet paprika, garlic, and onions, adding red pepper flakes to taste, for a dish that is ready in 20 minutes.

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    Stuffed Mushrooms With Clams

    Stuffed Mushrooms With Clams

    The Spruce/Diana Rattray

    Wow cocktail party guests with these special stuffed mushroom appetizers. Add canned minced clams to garlicky breadcrumbs, stuffing the mixture into butter-brushed mushrooms caps to broil quickly, for bite-sized nibbles with massive umami flavor.