Small, sweet clams are cooked are simply steamed in butter, garlic, white wine, and cream to create the best sauce for crusty bread dipping.
Two byproducts of my time at Market Street Grill are: 1) I met my husband, and 2) We adopted several of their recipes that have now become our own. Our renditions of their famous clam chowder and their stuffed pasilla peppers will always be faves at our house. But these Steamed Clams…oh, these clams.
Clams are one of my favorite types of shellfish, and recipes like my favorite clam dip, easy linguine con vongole, and of course these simple steamed clams are some of my favorite ways to enjoy these briny bivalves.
Sometimes I love serving these up over linguine or fettuccine, but however you serve these clams, crusty slices of sourdough bread are a must! The bread is as essential to this dish as the clams themselves because the broth is truly that good, and you need good bread to properly sop it up with. The cooking liquid is loaded with so many great flavors thanks to the savory chicken broth, white wine, lemon, and garlic, and of course the salty clams themselves.
What’s in These Steamed Clams
You only need a few ingredients to make these flavorful steamed clams. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Green onion
- Small clams or cockles (Cockles-a bivalve cousin to the clam can be tricky to find, so if you can’t find any, look for the smallest clams available for the most tender, sweet bite, such as littleneck clams.)
- White wine (ideally a dry white wine—nothing fancy, but one you’d drink)
- Chicken bouillon cubes or chicken broth
- Lemon juice
- Cream or half and half
Tip: For a bit of heat, add some red pepper flakes.
How to Make Steamed Clams
Saute the garlic and green onion. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the garlic and green onion for 3-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.
Steam the clams. Add the cockles and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the white wine and bouillon cubes with water or the chicken broth (these are the perfect base for these saucy clams). Bring to a boil then reduce to a rolling simmer and cook until the clams open up, stirring occasionally.
Make the creamy sauce. Remove the clams from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Gently fold in the remaining pat of butter, along with the cream, and stir. Top with parsley. Adding the cream OFF the heat ensures the cream will not break or separate.
How Long Does it Take to Steam Clams
These steamed clams don’t take long at all. Once simmering, they typically open up in 7-10 minutes, depending on how big they are.
Is it Better to Steam or Boil Clams
I don’t recommend boiling clams—they’ll end up tough and overcooked. Nobody wants rubbery clams! Steaming is the best way to cook them and maintain a tender texture, and 7-10 minutes at a simmer is a good time frame. Smaller clams won’t take as long to cook.
What do You Soak Clams in Before Steaming
Clams are bottom dwellers, living rooted in sand and they get their nourishment from sucking in itty bitties of water and sand along with it. Thus, they have a tendency to be sandy or gritty if not soaked thoroughly before cooking. While soaking, the clams will siphon in the fresh water and spit out the sand. Here’s what I do:
Keep them in the netted bag they come in. (This will make it easier to submerge and remove them.)
Submerge and soak. Drop the bag into a bowl of cold water and let the clams soak for 5 minutes.
Rinse and repeat. Drain the bowl, refill it with water, and let the clams soak again. Do this 2-3 more times to ensure all of the grit is removed from the clam shells.
Inspect for duds. After you’ve soaked the clams, remove them from their bag and pick through for any half-open clams (you’ll want to discard those as they are no longer fresh and aren’t safe to eat).
What to Serve with Steamed Clams
- The BEST Garlic Bread
- Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo
- Easy Linguine with Clam Sauce
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
How to Make the Best Steamed Clams
- 3 tablespoons butter , divided
- ¼ cup minced garlic
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- 2 pounds small clams or cockles
- 1 ½ cups white wine
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes with 1 ½ cups water or 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup cream or half and half
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the garlic and green onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the cockles and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the white wine and bouillon cubes with water or the chicken broth. Bring to a boil then reduce to a rolling simmer and cook until the clams open up, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the cream and stir. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Serve with sourdough bread.
More Clam Recipes You’ll Love
- The Best Clam Chowder
- Cioppino Seafood Stew Recipe
- The Best Clam Dip Recipe EVER
- Easy Linguine with Clam Sauce (Linguine con Vongole)
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