Tender clams on the half-shell, stuffed with toasted breadcrumbs, bacon, and finely chopped peppers, shallots and garlic, this classic clams casino recipe is a favorite appetizer!
It’s a beloved New England recipe: Clams Casino. Originating in Rhode Island which is right around the corner from me, I’ve had my fair share of clams casino! This recipe is pretty traditional, with fresh littleneck clams topped with butter toasted breadcrumbs, smoky bits of bacon and some finely chopped veggies to add crunch and complementary sweetness.
What’s the trick to keeping your clams juicy and tender? Place the clams under the broiler on a baking sheet with a very thin layer of wine. As the clams open, they’re going to stay happy, basking in the steam from the pan (which also flavors the clams too!).
Need to make clams casino ahead? Not an issue. Make the breadcrumb mixture ahead (which is half the work). For a seafood feast, pair with Fresh Salmon Croquettes that are also crispy, little bites of heaven.
Watch Me Make This Clams Casino Recipe!
How to Make Clams Casino
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Cook bacon until crispy, then remove, and set aside. Drain fat, and set pan aside too.
Preheat oven to broil. Rinse clams, and discard cracked or open ones. Soak in salted water for 20 minutes.
Make breadcrumb mixture by melting butter, and then toasting panko in the butter until light golden.
Add bacon, shallots, garlic, red pepper, scallions, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Toss until just warm. Set aside.
Remove clams from the salted bath, and rinse them again.
Add wine to the baking sheet until it has a very thin layer, and place clams in a single layer on the sheet.
Broil clams until they open which should start around 5 minutes. As they open, remove clams from the oven with tongs, placing on a separate baking sheet.
Remove wine-covered sheet from the oven, set aside, and toss unopened clams.
Cool clams, remove top shells, and loosen the clam inside with a fork. Place half-shells with clams back on wine-covered sheet.
Add heaping teaspoon of breadcrumb mixture to each clam.
- Broil again.
Broil for 2-5 minutes until golden brown.
Serve clams casino with wine-soaked sheet breadcrumbs and lemon wedges if desired.
Expert Tips for Classic Clams Casino
- Fresh clams are key: Start with the freshest clams possible. Discard any that are open or chipped. Littleneck clams are the best for clams casino. They are bite-sized, sweet, and largely accessible. If you can’t find them, you can use cherrystone clams but they are larger, so you will likely only be able to stuff 3 dozen.
- Clean clams: Clean and soak the clams in a salted water bath to remove sand and grit. Rinse them thoroughly under cold running water after soaking.
- Toast the breadcrumb mixture: Toast the breadcrumbs in butter for rich flavor. Toss the other ingredients into the breadcrumbs just until warm, not fully cooked, to retain texture when the clams casino are baked.
- Use wine: Adding wine to the baking sheet creates steam, helping the clams to stay tender and juicy – and adds flavor! The best white wine to use is sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. You can use bottled clam juice, vegetable broth, or water instead of the wine if desired.
- Keep an eye out while broiling: Keep a close eye on the clams while broiling to prevent overcooking or the breadcrumbs from burning. Remove each clam individually as they open to avoid overcooking some while waiting for others.
- Handle with caution: The broiled clams are hot and the wine-soaked baking sheet is even hotter!
- Portion appropriately: You can halve or double the recipe if needed!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Littleneck clams are the best option because they are widely accessible, sweet, small and tender. If you can’t find them, use cherrystone clams (but you likely will only be able to stuff 3 dozen since they are bigger).
If a few clams don’t open under the broiler in about 15 minutes, there is likely something wrong with the clams (they could be dead), and you should not eat them.
Fresh clams often have a decent amount of sand and grit in them. Cleaning them helps flush out any sand which can be quite unpleasant to eat.
Clean clams by inspecting them for damage, rinsing them under cold water, and then placing them in a salted cold water bath for about 20 minutes, to flush out any sand. Rinse them once more, and they’re ready to use!
Making clams casino fully ahead and reheating them isn’t recommend (the clams can get tough). However you can make the breadcrumb mixture ahead, let cool, and then refrigerate for up to 4 days in advance. Then broil the clams, stuff them with the premade breadcrumbs, and re-broil them until hot and crispy.
More Seafood Recipes You’ll Love!
- Buttered Lobster Roll Recipe
- Fresh Salmon Croquettes
- BEST Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- Amazing Lobster Mac and Cheese
- Large baking sheet
- 4 dozen littleneck clams
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup dry white wine (roughly) for the baking sheet
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
- ½ pound bacon finely diced
- ½ red bell pepper seeded and finely chopped
- ½ lemon zested, plus lemon wedges for serving
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small bunch scallions trimmed and finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook finely diced bacon in a large, dry pan over medium heat until crispy, about 10-15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon bits from the pan to set aside in a separate bowl. Drain bacon fat from the pan and set pan aside too.
- Preheat oven to broil. Clean clams by adding about a ½ tablespoon of salt to a large bowl of cold water. Stir. Inspect clams for any cracked shells (cracked or open clams should be discarded). Rinse the clams under cold running water. Place them in the salted water bath for 20 minutes, which will cause them to expel any sand and grit.
- While the clams are soaking, make the breadcrumb mixture in the large pan. Add butter over medium-high heat and let melt. Add panko and toast for 4-6 minutes, tossing often, until light golden.
- Turn heat to low and add bacon, shallots, garlic, red pepper, scallions, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Toss ingredients until just warm (1-2 minutes), not cooked. Turn heat off and set aside.
- After 20 minutes, remove clams from salted bath and rinse them again under cold running water.
- Add about a cup of wine to a large baking sheet. The pan should be coated in a very thin layer of wine. Add the rinsed clams in a single layer.
- Carefully place clams under the broiler on the middle rack. Clams will start to open after about 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the clams individually as they open, placing them on a separate baking sheet out of the oven.
- Once all clams have opened, carefully remove the wine-covered baking sheet from the oven. Set aside. Toss any clams that have not opened.
- Once the clams have cooled enough to touch, twist and remove the top shells. Use a fork to loosen the clams from the bottom shells. Place clams on the half-shell, back on the wine-covered baking sheet.
- Add a heaping teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture to each clam. It’s okay if some of the mixture falls onto the baking sheet.
- Broil the clams again for 2-5 minutes, watching carefully, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy.
- Serve clams casino right away, with some of the wine-soaked sheet breadcrumbs and lemon wedges on the side if desired!
- Be careful! The broiled clams are hot and the wine-soaked baking sheet is even hotter!
- Littleneck clams are the best for clams casino. They are bite-sized, sweet, and largely accessible. If you can’t find them, you can use cherrystone clams but since they are larger, you will likely only be able to stuff 3 dozen.
- You can halve or double the recipe if desired!
- The best dry white wine to use is sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
- Don’t want to use wine? You can use bottled clam juice, vegetable broth, or water instead of the wine.