Steamed Clams Recipe

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My Steamed Clams Recipe is simple yet elegant, perfect for any occasion. Steam clams in white wine with butter and garlic for a heavenly aroma and plenty of flavor. Make this steamer clam recipe tonight in under 30 minutes!

titled: Steamed Clams Recipe


Steamed Clams Recipe

While this may be the first steamed clams recipe I have ever posted here, I’m no stranger to seafood in general!

I also have an easy clam chowder recipe that you will love.

Nothing goes better with fresh seafood than butter and lemon — except maybe white wine! Combine all three for the best clam sauce around.

If you wanted, you could include this popular shellfish in my low country boil. Otherwise, check out this Cajun Jambalaya Pasta or my creamy lobster mac and cheese.

bowl of steamer clams with lemons, wine, and jar of minced garlic

Ingredient Notes and Substitutes

  • Steamer Clams – Always be sure clams are still alive when you purchase them — those that have already perished are prone to bacteria.

    The aroma should be clean like ocean air and not at all fishy.

    Keep them in a bag or open container with plenty of airflow, and use them within 24 hours for best results.

    And be sure to check out more helpful tips on buying and cleaning clams before you head to the market!
  • Onion & Garlic – The classic flavor makers! I like the flavor of white onion here, but a sweet Vidalia onion is a good substitute.
  • White Wine – Like with any recipe, cook with something you would love to drink by itself.

    There are so few ingredients in this recipe that the flavor really comes through.

    No need to splurge on something expensive — just whatever is in your budget and tastes good!

    Chardonnay is my favorite for cooking steamed clams in wine, but Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work as well.
  • Lemons & Parsley – These simple garnishes put the flavor of steamed clams in white wine over the top!
fresh clams in a mixing bowl

How To Clean Clams Before Steaming

Once you get home from the store, put your shellfish on ice and keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to get started.

About 30 minutes before you plan to steam clams, soak the shellfish in a big bowl of cold water. This should help to work out any sand that may still be inside.

Then, give the outside a quick scrub with a stiff bristle brush before draining and rinsing in more cold water. Discard any that opened during the soak.

sautéing onions and garlic in butter

Helpful Tips for Cooking Steamed Clams in Wine

  • Take time to prepare the wine sauce.

Sauté onion and garlic in butter until fragrant. The onions should become tender and lightly golden in color.

Then, pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. It will hiss and steam, making it easy to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Bring to a light boil with the remaining butter and shellfish before covering. This helps the flavors meld together so every bit soaks into the clams!

  • Watch carefully so they don’t overcook!

Clams will let you know when they’re done — the shells will pop right open!

That’s your sign to remove them from the pan. If you keep them in there too long, they’ll be chewy and rubbery.

  • Get creative with flavors.

Use a different variety of wine each time you make this steamed clams recipe to find your favorite.

For extra lemon flavor, include some lemon zest. Or, toss in some diced tomatoes or bacon for extra savory goodness!

Prep Ahead

  • Soak and rinse clams
  • Chop onion
  • Mince garlic
steaming clams in white wine sauce

Serving Suggestions

All you really need with this steamed clams recipe is a hunk of crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth!

You could also add some grilled asparagus or a simple green salad to round out the meal.

My favorite is pairing steamed clams in white wine with tender pasta, since the liquid from the pan can double as a light sauce. Linguine, angel hair, or even bowtie noodles would be an excellent choice.

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Deep Skillet – Higher sides make it easier to steam clams!
  • Large Bowl – This one is my go-to!
  • Wood Turner – My most used spoon or spatula in my kitchen! It’s amazing for sauteing vegetables and browning meat.

Steamer Clam FAQ

How do you eat steamed clams?

After cooking steamed clams in wine, the shells should pop open. Hold the shell with one hand and use a small fork to remove the muscle inside.

Can you eat steamed clams that don’t open?

If, for some reason, you end up with a few shells that are still closed once cooked I recommend tossing them instead of trying to force them open.

A number of things can cause this to happen, but most likely the muscle is either dead inside, or it won’t loosen from the shell. Either way, you won’t want to eat it!

What is the difference between a steamer clam and little neck clams?

The shell! Littlenecks are hard-shell clams that are smaller in size than larger mollusks. They’re just slightly bigger than countnecks and roughly half the size of quahogs (chowder clams).

Steamer clams have very thin shells that are easily broken and can be prepared in a number of ways.

To make things slightly more confusing, Pacific littleneck clams are sometimes called steamer clams on the west coast even though they have that signature hard shell. You can prepare them the same as steamers — they just take a bit longer to cook.

steamed clams, close up

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steamed clams in white wine butter sauce

Steamed Clams Recipe

Donna Elick
This Steamed Clams Recipe transforms simple ingredients into the most flavorful dish! Make this steamer clam recipe in under 30 minutes!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 30 Small Clams


  • 30 small clams
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • dash of cracked black pepper
  • Preferred bread for serving


  • Prior to cooking, be sure to rinse the clams. Place them in a large bowl with water and let them sit for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse to get rid of any sand.
  • In a deep skillet (or pot), begin to melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add minced garlic and white onion. Saute until onions are tender and fragrant.
  • Add white wine, remaining butter and clams. Bring to a gentle boil. Cover and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes (or until the clams have opened).
  • Remove from heat and top with the juice of 1 lemon, fresh parsley and pepper.
  • Serve with bread and additional lemon wedges.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 28cal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 17mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): steamed clams recipe

Originally published May 2021, updated and republished April 2024

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  1. I also add a 6oz can of diced clams with their juice and this just isn't the same without a little linguini mixed in.

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