A Step-by-step Guideline On How To Steam Clams Properly

A Step-by-step Guideline On How To Steam Clams Properly

Many people believe that steaming clams is as simple as adding water and clams into a pot, then turning the heat on. However, it is not always the right way to do so. How to steam clams properly also depends on their species and other seasonings. In today’s blog, Fishermen’s Net is going to provide you with a step-by-step guideline on steaming clams. Let’s get started! 

 how to steam clams

How To Prepare Clams?

Pick Up Fresh Clams

For your convenience, we suggest that you should purchase clams from online seafood stores. By buying from these online stores, you can both save time and find fresh ingredients daily.

View more about clams and other seafoods from Fishermen’s Net.

When receiving the ingredients, here is how to check whether the clams are alive or not. Hard-shell clams should be tightly-closed. In case you find that any are open, gently tap the shell and wait a few seconds; the clams will close if they are still alive. On the other hand, if any of those clams have chipped or cracked shells, they should be discarded. Different from hard-shell ones, soft-shell clams commonly cannot close all the way. Therefore, you should tap or touch the side of the shell or siphon to see whether it moves.

Preliminary Treatment

 how long to steam clams

To remove grit or algae from the shells, rinse the clams under fresh water without needing to soak them. Discard any clams full of mud or are widely gaping open; as they are certainly dead. Typically, plan for 1 lb per person, and maybe more if you do not eat pasta.

Ingredients & Recipe Notes


  • 3 lbs of clams
  • Water (You can replace it with white wine)
  • 2 slices of onion
  • ¼ tsp of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 2 tbsps of lemonade
  • Unsalted butter
  • Sea salt

Recipe Notes

  • Serving: 2 - 3 people
  • Prep time: 10 - 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 - 5 minutes
  • Total time: 15 - 20 minutes

How To Steam Clams Properly?

 how to steam clams on the stove

  • Step 1: Rinse the clams under cold water, put in a bowl of fresh water and soak for about 20 minutes to let the clams release some sand. Then drain thoroughly and use a soft brush to clean the clam shell. Clams are ready to cook.
  • Step 2: Pour 1 - 2 inches of water or maybe your favorite beer in a large steamer or pot. Then, put the clams inside the pot and close it with the lid. Turn on the stove and bring water to a boil over high heat. 
  • Step 3: Reduce heat to low and remember to cover the pot tightly. "How long to steam clams?" - Steam the clams for 3 - 5 minutes until their shells open. 
  • Step 4: Remove the clams whose shell is opened and serve it immediately for the best taste. Discard any clams whose shell is not opened.

Clams Recipe Variations

Because it is a basic recipe, you can combine other ingredients according to your preferences for a more nutritious meal!

  • Shellfish: Replace clams with mussels, cockles or a combination of both (Don't forget to see the difference between mussels vs clams in "Mussels vs clams vs oysters" and "Cockles vs clams" article)
  • Meat: Add diced bacon, Spanish chorizo and pancetta
  • Beans: Stir-fry green beans or white beans
  • Vegetables: Add dill, bell pepper or thinly sliced purple onion. Or can add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes

Useful Tips On How To Steam Clams In Water Properly

Tip 1: Watch The Heat

You should only use medium heat; as slow steaming will help open all the clams’ shells. If you cook too fast, you may overcook them; which can lead the clams to be a bit tough. It is still tasty, yet, really tough.

Tip 2: Know Your Species

There are many species of clams in the seafood world. Each clam has its own features, and also has different flavours after cooked. Below are some examples of clam species. 

Manila Steamer Clam - In fact, Manilas are the most common clam eaten on the west coast. Being an important commercial species, most recipes are written for them. In general, they are fully cooked by the time they open up. If they are undercooked, they will not open. Also, if they are overcooked, their meat will be separated from the shells. 

Purple Savory Clam - Compared to Manilas, Purple Savory Clams are meatier and softer in texture. It leads to the difference in cooking, Purple Savory Clams flash open as soon as they are exposed to the heat. They do not need to be fully cooked to open their shell, so you can eat them at any point. However, if you are keen on fully cooked clams, don’t hesitate to cook them a bit longer.

Tip 3: Add Flavorings

Salty and sweet are already the features of clams; however, they definitely play well with others. Most steamed clam recipes need you to saute the extra ingredients first. You can try our following recipe or just kinda wing it. 

Mushroom, celery, and pepper will work perfectly with clams; additionally, you can add more ginger, red pepper flakes. Perhaps, you can choose tomatoes as an alternative to butter or cream. Moreover, use chorizo or salami to offer a satisfying counterpoint. Though, be careful with anything salty, especially olive oil; since the clams themselves are already salty.

Benefits Of Clams

Clams are low in calories and carbohydrates, rich in protein, so they are very suitable for healthy diets. In addition, clams are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamin B12.

For those who follow a healthy diet, you can reduce the amount of butter or replace it with olive oil because it is a good fat, good for your heart.

More recipes:

Now, with the above information, you know how to steam clams properly. Fishermen’s Net hopes this article has provided you with useful tips to have the best pot of steam clams.

Visit our blog for more useful tips related to the clam and the other seafoods. Feel free to contact us via the below contact information if you have any further questions or requests. 

  • Website: www.mualobster.com
  • Address: 36 Bath Rd, Brunswick, ME 04011, USA
  • Tel: +1 (207) 844 8343
Back to blog

Our Best Selling

Here you will find some of our most often purchases as well our specials that we are currently running