Garlicky, buttery, steamed clams with white wine, shallot, fresh parsley, and lemon juice. Serve with a crusty baguette or grilled sourdough bread!
Is there anything better than a pot of tender steamed clams simmered in a bath of white wine, garlic, butter and lemon… I think not!
Steamed Clams make for a sophisticated yet easy dinner that doesn’t require too much thought. Serve them with a crusty toasted baguette for sopping up all of the delicious broth. Alternatively, you can serve them over a bed of freshly cooked pasta like linguini or pappardelle.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
Clams: Look for manilla, littlenecks, cherrystone, or steamers. When you buy fresh clams make sure that they are tightly closed, or that they close up quickly when you tap on them. Clams that are open are dead and should not be eaten.
White Wine: Use a dry white wine. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, etc.
Butter: Olive oil can be substituted for a dairy-free version.
Lemon: Adds a touch of acidity to the salty, buttery clams.
Parsley: Adds a touch of freshness to the dish.
Garlic: Fresh garlic only, never jarred!
Shallot: You can substitute onion if needed. Just be sure to chop it finely.
Step One: Purge the clams in cold water.
Step Two: In a large pot (that has a lid), melt half the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot to the pot, sauté until fragrant about 1-2 minutes.
Step Three: Add the white wine, bring to a boil. Next, add the clams and remaining butter. Cover and steam until the clams have opened (about 7-10 minutes).
Step Four: Squeeze half a lemon over the steamed clams and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with warm, toasted baguette.
Recipe FAQs and Expert Tips:
Smaller clams tend to be better for steaming. Look for manilla, littlenecks, cherrystone, or steamers.
Not for this recipe. If you want to make linguine with clam sauce canned clams are just fine for that. Should I share a linguini with clams recipe?
Soaking the clams, or “purging” them helps get rid of some of the sand or grit they may be holding onto. Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes and the clams will spit out the sand trapped in their shells.
You should steam clams until they are fully open and not a minute longer. The time this takes will vary depending on the size of your clams. This could take 5-10 minutes.
What to Serve with Steamed Clams:
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Steamed Clams with White Wine, Garlic and Butter
- 2 lbs small clams manilla, steamers, littlenecks
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 1 c dry white wine
- ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 crusty bread; baguette or country loaf for serving
- Fill a large bowl with cool tap water and place the clams in it. Let them soak for 20 minutes during which they’ll expel any sand and grit.
- In a large pot (that has a lid), melt half the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, sauté until fragrant about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the white wine, bring to a boil. Next, add the clams and remaining butter. Cover and steam until the clams have opened (about 7-10 minutes).
- Squeeze half a lemon over the steamed clams and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with warm, toasted bread.
How long should you steam clams? You should steam clams until they are fully open and not a minute longer. The time this takes will vary depending on the size of your clams. This could take 5-10 minutes.
What type of wine should you use? Use a dry white wine. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, etc.
How do you make the clams tender? The number one way to achieve tender, juicy, not-tough clams is to not overcook them.
Should you soak the clams before cooking? Soaking the clams, or “purging” them helps get rid of some of the sand or grit they may be holding onto. Soak them in cold water for 20 minutes and the clams will spit out the sand trapped in their shells.
Can you use canned clams? Not for this recipe. If you want to make linguine with clam sauce canned clams are just fine for that. Should I share a linguini with clams recipe?
A few notes that are pretty critical. When you purge / soak the clams, NEVER use tap water. The chlorine and / or chloramine will kill your clams. Also be sure to salt the purge water. Mix sea salt with distilled or filtered water to about 3% salinity and mix with a whisk to both dissolve the salt and add oxygen to your water. This will keep the clams alive while they soak in the fridge.
Also when it comes to clams, as much as I LOVE steamers, they are simply wrong for this recipe. Not only do they require an extended purge time but they will still add some sand to yur cooking liquid and need to be cleaned individually by hand after cooking. Not bowl and bread friendly. Any local hard shell clam will do the trick.
Otherwise, awesome recipe.
I am thinking of making this recipe for Christmas Eve. I have a question. Generally, when I steam clams, I do so in water and the resulting broth has sand in it although I have triple purged the clams in cold water. I try to use littlenecks or topnecks as opposed to steamers because they tend to have less sand (I use locally sourced clams; I live in Maine). I then strain the broth through cheesecloth to get rid of the sand. This recipe, however, steams the clams in the sauce, which sounds delicious, but doesn’t allow for straining . Have you ever had an issue with sand? And if so, how have you handled that? thanks.
Hi Sarah– clams purchased at a seafood market or grocery store are most likely purged already before we buy them. I find that purging them once more at home in cold water is enough to rid them of any last bit of sand and grit. Giving the shells a quick scrub with a brush to remove mud on the outside of the shell is also helpful.
Because you will be using super-fresh locally sourced clams (lucky you!) it may be wise to speak to your fishmonger who will have expert advice about the particular clams you are buying. Different clams can need longer purging times depending on many factors like seasonality and location.
If you’re still feeling apprehensive you can always steam the clams separately in the 1-cup of wine then strain the wine though cheese cloth and add it to the sautéed garlic/shallot/butter mixture along with the steamed clams, lemon and parsley – toss everything together until combined and serve.
Leigh, Thank you very much for the prompt reply. I will talk to my fishmonger. I like the idea of steaming white wine and then adding the wine to the shallot mixture. I am looking forward to making this recipe!!! I’ll let you know how it turns out
When I lived in Monterey I would go to Paradiso Restaurant on Cannery Row and get the steamed clams, a salad and a glass of wine – it was absolute heaven. When I moved out of state I begged them for the recipe and they were kind enough to give it to me. Your recipe is very similar to theirs so I know yours is delicious too!
Hi Pam, thank you for this lovely note. Clams, salad and a glass of wine sounds like my dream meal! I hope you like the recipe!
So delish! I followed the recipe exactly and it was amazing and served with toasted garlic bread.
Leigh Hyatt Anderson
I’m so glad to hear that! Thank you for trying this recipe!