3 Ways to Cook Clams

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a bunch of clams
Photo by Kathleen Tyler Conklin is marked with CC BY 2.0

Clams are a deliciously delightful seafood that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. In this guide, we’ll review how to steam, grill, and bake clams. Each of these preparations makes for a delicious appetizer or main course. Read on to learn how to enjoy this delicious shellfish at home. 

Before preparing any clams, make sure they are cleaned and ready to cook. Start by sorting through the clams. Discard any that are already open or those with large chips or cracks in the shell. Place the remaining clams in a large bowl of cool water. Let the clams soak for 20-30 minutes. Remove the clams from the water, and scrub away any excess debris on the shells. Once complete, you are ready to cook! 

How to Steam Clams

To begin, we’ll review how to steam clams. While quick to prepare, this easy method packs a delicious flavor punch for an irresistible appetizer or main course. 

You’ll need the following ingredients for steamed clams: 

  • 1 lb. Clams
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter 
  • 1/4 cup White Wine

To prepare: 

  1. Place a large pot over medium heat. (Make sure the pot you select has a lid) 
  2. Melt the butter in the pot, being careful not to let it burn. 
  3. Once melted, add white wine and bring to a simmer. 
  4. Once simmering, add clams and cover. 
  5. Let the clams steam for 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of the clams. Shake the pot occasionally to allow each clam room to open. 
  6. When clams are open, remove from the heat. Discard any clams that have not opened during cooking. 
  7. If desired, serve with fresh lemon. Enjoy! 

While delicious prepared with these simple ingredients, you can also customize this preparation with your favorite flavors such as fresh garlic, crushed tomatoes, or herbs. Any way you steam them, they are sure to be delicious! 

How to Grill Clams

The next method we’ll review is how to grill clams. Perfect for those warm-weather months, grilled clams make a delicious dish for a summer cookout. This preparation is incredibly simple and easy to customize for any flavor preferences. Before cooking, make sure your clams are soaked, scrubbed, and ready to cook. With cleaned clams on hand, you can begin cooking! 

  1. To start, preheat your grill to a medium heat. 
  2. While the grill is heating, you can prepare a sauce to accompany the clams. Combine melted butter with your favorite ingredients such as fresh garlic, lemon, and herbs. You can make a few sauces with different flavors depending on your preferences. 
  3. Once the sauce is prepared, you are ready to grill clams. Place the clams directly on the grill grates and let cook for up to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the clams as they cook, removing them from the grill as they open.
  4. Serve fresh off the grill with the flavored sauce poured over the top, or on the side for dipping.
  5. Enjoy! 

This preparation is fast and delicious, for an incredibly easy yet crowd-pleasing meal. 

How to Bake Clams

Lastly, we’ll touch on easy, baked clams. These make an excellent appetizer, perfect for dinners, holiday parties, and more. With cleaned clams on hand and the following ingredients gathered, you’re ready to get cooking! 

Ingredients for Baked Clams: 

  • 1 lb. Clams
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter (for steaming)
  • 1/4 cup White Wine (for steaming)
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 
  • Fresh Lemon (for serving)
  • Fresh herbs (for serving)
  1. The first step to preparing baked clams is actually to steam them. Follow the method outlined above on how to steam clams. Once steamed, you’ll combine the cooked clams with a flavorful filling and bake. 
  2. With steamed clams on hand, remove the clam meat from the shell. Split the shells, keeping half for stuffing. You can discard the remaining. 
  3. Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare your filling.  
  4. Combine breadcrumbs, melted butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Once combined, spoon the mixture onto each clam, making sure they are well stuffed. 
  5. Bake the clams for about 15 minutes, until golden. 
  6. Serve with fresh lemon and a sprinkle of herbs, if desired. Enjoy! 

No matter which cooking method you choose, mastering how to cook clams will provide you with great options for appetizers or dinners – sure to be savored by any dinner guests. For more ways to prepare seafood like shrimp, scallops, and more browse our Seafood University today.