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Steamed Clams

Steamed Clams
10 votes, 4.80 avg. rating (94% score)
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The New England seashore is known for its fresh food, and shellfish is an enticing treat for locals and vacationers alike. One of the region’s best dishes is steamed clams, and when prepared with this butter and broth combination, it is all the more desirable. Many of our readers recommend the seafood be steamed with beer, but even if you choose to use the traditional method of water, these steamed clams will burst with the taste of a New England summer.

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steamed clams


  • 6 dozen clams
  • water
  • butter, melted


One hour before serving, scrub 6 dozen softshell clams with vegetable brush in cold water; rinse with water until free of sand. Place clams in steamer or on rack in large kettle with 1 cup boiling water (or enough to cover bottom). Cover kettle with tight-fitting lid and steam over low heat just until clams open, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve steamed clams in soup bowls with individual cups of butter. Pour broth into mugs and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley. To eat: With fingers, pull clams from shells by the neck; dip first in broth to remove any sand, then into butter. Everything except the tough skin of the neck may be eaten. The broth can be drunk when the sand settles to the bottom.
Updated Saturday, August 30th, 2014

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9 Responses to Steamed Clams

  1. Anonymous January 1, 2003 at 8:21 pm #

    This is the way I always steamed clams until one day someone suggested that I steam them in beer. I have never used water to steam them since.

  2. betty mackenzie January 29, 2003 at 10:02 am #

    If you have never had clams steamed in beer, you have to try it. 1 can of beer will steam a lot of clams. You don’t taste the beer, but it makes the clams so tender and sweet tasting. I will never use water again.

  3. Paul Luu May 28, 2003 at 10:15 pm #

    I suggest you don’t use water. The clams become dry and lack much taste. Use 1 can of beer and you will have the best tasting clams yet!

  4. Anonymous June 5, 2003 at 11:07 am #

    I agree with using the beer. I also soak the steamers in water with corn meal for about 2 hours to remove the sand.

  5. Anonymous September 18, 2003 at 5:07 pm #

    I also soak the clams in water and cornmeal to remove the sand. I normally soak for about 6 hours. I have never tried beer to steam the clams with, but will try that tomorrow! I also add sliced onions and dried onion soup mix to the liquid for a great dipping broth!

  6. monica buck June 27, 2005 at 10:37 am #

    I also use water and cornmeal to clean. I have used beer to flavor, and have found the lighter beers do nothing. I started using dark beer, like a stout, and it gives GREAT flavor.

  7. Ed Harris May 11, 2006 at 1:20 pm #

    I try to keep my New England style steamed clams just that, with some Samuel Adams Boston Lager instead of water. I agree with a previous review, light beer does nothing for this recipe.

  8. Leslie July 13, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    You must have Maine clams! Or… if you are in Canada…Digby clams are awesome. Get a large bucket of clean, cold seawater, fill with lots and lots of ice cubes….place the clams in the bucket for a number of hours the longer the better, clams love cold water and will suck it in and spit out every bit of sand. This works much better than the old story of cornmeal. Steam the clams in seawater, add some seaweed if you want the real taste of Maine …the broth will be rich and flavorful and yummy. Lots of good quality metled butter on the side….simple yet elegant. Drink beer and/or white wine while eating the clams…..ENJOY By the way, the attached photo appears to be of mussels not clams!!!!!

    • Brenda Darroch July 15, 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Those are great tips, Leslie! Thanks for sharing. I had never heard about saltwater and ice method of getting rid of the sand. The attached photo does look a bit like mussels, but those are actually clams.

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