Use the Microwave for Steamed Clams or Mussels

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  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Servings: 2 servings

Use your microwave to steam clams or mussels with this basic recipe. Add your favorite herbs and/or seasonings. Steamed clams or mussels make a fancy appetizer or a special entree, and with this recipe, you can do it on the fly for a spur-of-the-moment party. This recipe is taken from "Mastering Microwave Cookery" by Marcia Cone and Thelma Snyder.​


  • 1 dozen clams (or 3/4 to 1 pound mussels, scrubbed well)
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • Optional: lemon wedges
  • Garnish: herbs (to taste)
  • Garnish: garlic (to taste)
  • Garnish: seasoning (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Arrange the clams or mussels around the outer rim of a 10- to 12-inch shallow, round, microwave-proof dish, leaving the center open.

  2. Cover tightly and cook on high (100 percent) for 2 1/2 to 5 minutes, or until all the shells have opened. Rotate the dish once in the middle of cooking time if necessary.

  3. Serve with melted butter, lemon wedges and/or herbs and seasonings, along with the broth from the cooking.


Double the Recipe 

  • The most efficient way to double the number of clams and mussels is in two separate batches. Put in another plate while people begin eating and you won't miss a beat. Mussels will open faster than clams because the muscles fastening them shut are smaller than the clams'. However, because mussels are often meatier and larger than clams, they might take a little longer to cook once the shell is opened. A glass cover and casserole allow you to watch as they open up.

Serving Suggestions

  • For the full-on flavor and intensity of steamed clams or mussels you want to eat them straight, no chaser, with the suggested butter, lemon, and seasonings. For sides, think about corn on the cob if it's in season, slaw with vinegar dressing, cheese-garlic French bread, a favorite pasta or potato salad, a cold green bean salad with vinaigrette dressing or a mix of those options. It's a summertime meal. Dry white wine goes best with steamed clams; choose sauvignon blanc, Chablis or even a dry rose.

Other Ways to Use Steamed Clams

  • If you'd rather use the clams or mussels as a base of a recipe rather than eating them just steamed, sprinkle steamed clams with a breadcrumbs and herbs mixture and bake a few minutes until brown and crispy. If the clams are large enough, remove the meat and chop it up. Mix with the breadcrumbs and put back into the shell and then bake to a turn. Or mix the clams or mussels, along with the buttery sauce, with pasta and mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives -- really any additions you like. Serve with dry white wine as you would with steamed clams.