Italian Steamed Clams

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5 from 3 votes

Master perfect steamed clams served in a white wine and garlic broth, with fresh corn and tomatoes, and bits of Italian salami. You’ll want crusty bread on the side to soak up all that sauce!

Have you ever wanted to steam fresh clams but didn’t even know where to start? You’re not the only one! Clams can be intimidating to make at home but this recipe for steamed clams is so easy; I promise! I’m blessed to live in New England where fresh clams are sold like potatoes…they’re everywhere. And because clams are so accessible here, I’ve steamed a lot of clams in my days! This is my favorite method, and my favorite preparation: Italian-style. 

These steamed clams are served simply with white wine, garlic, just-blistered tomatoes, sweet corn and little wisps of spicy salami. Chop up some fresh parsley for a garnish and you’re almost complete! The key is to always serve with crusty bread. Why? You absolutely have to soak up all of the juices, and there’s no better vessel to do that than crusty bread. One of my favorites is this French Baguette. It’s crispy, yet light and airy at the same time. Perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce! 

One could say this recipe will transform you from being “clammy” about the whole process to being happy as a clam! Yikes… HA! I digress.

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Steamed Clam Ingredients

  • Littleneck clams – littleneck clams are small, tender, sweet and a little briny. They’re also widely available. Use Steamers, Cherrystone, or Manila clams if preferred. The cooking time may differ slightly, but the best rule of thumb is once the clams open fully, they are ready to eat!
  • Dry white wine – dry white wines are crisp, clean and refreshing, which creates the perfect base for a clam broth. Look for a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. 
  • Cherry tomatoes – these tomatoes offer bite-sized bursts of sweet juiciness. 
  • Fresh corn – fresh corn is always best, but frozen corn works when fresh isn’t available!
  • Parsley – parsley adds a pop of green and freshness. 
  • Salami – Calabrese salami refers to a type of spicy Italian pork sausage from the Calabria region of Italy. It is known for its fiery flavor! Sub with a teaspoon or tablespoon of nduja if preferred, or simple genoa salami for a non-spicy option.
  • Garlic clove – a garlicky wine broth is a classic base for steamed clams.
  • Shallot – shallots are a little sweet, pungent, and have a beautiful pink color. 
  • Butter – butter adds a touch of creaminess and richness.
  • Crusty bread (optional) – for dipping, of course!

What Kind Of Clams Are Best For Steaming?

Steamers, Manila, Cherrystone, or littleneck clams are the best for steaming and can be found at your local grocery store. I like littleneck clams the best! Here are a few differences between the types of clams: 

  • Steamers: steamers, also known as “soft-shell clams”, have a softer shell but chewier consistency than littleneck and Manila clams. They’re also larger. Steamers are native to the Atlantic Ocean, so East Coast friends, these are easy to find.
  • Manilas: Manila clams are slightly larger than littlenecks and have a sweet, delicate flavor and tender texture. They’re native to the Pacific Ocean, so if you’re on the West Coast, these clams will be easiest to find. 
  • Cherrystones: These Atlantic Ocean native clams are larger than littlenecks and manilas and have a strong briny flavor. 
  • Littlenecks: littlenecks are small, tender, sweet and briny. Littlenecks are my favorite kind of clam to use for steaming! They’re native to the Atlantic Ocean, so if you’re on the East Coast, these will be easier to find.

Do You Soak Clams Before Steaming?

Yes! Clams have a tendency to retain some sand or dirt in their shells, so the extra step of soaking helps release any grit that may be inside. Unless you’re craving some sand in between your teeth, the soaking step is definitely worth the time! All you need is a large bowl to hold the clams, cold water, and salt. With only 15-20 minutes of soaking in salt water, you’ll get cleaner and more enjoyable clams to eat. Totally worth it!

How Long Does It Take To Steam Clams?

This steamed clams recipe doesn’t take long at all! Once at a steady boil, the clams will steam in a closed pot for 5-10 minutes until clams fully open. The time may be a touch longer if you use steamers or larger clams. Regardless, once the clams open fully, they are ready to eat!

How To Steam Clams

Learn how to make steamed clams! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Soak.

    Clean clams by adding about a ½ tablespoon of salt to a large bowl of cold water. Stir. Inspect clams for any cracked shells. Rinse clams under cold running water. Place them in the salted water bath for 20 minutes.

  2. Rinse.

    After 20 minutes, remove clams from salted bath and rinse them again under cold running water.

  3. Boil.

    Add white wine, garlic slivers, and clams to a large pot. Over medium-high heat, cover the pot and bring to a boil.

  4. Steam.

    Keep at a steady boil and let clams steam in a closed pot for 5-10 minutes. Clams should fully open. When open, they are ready! Discard any that don’t open.

  5. Add more.

    While clams are steaming, add butter, shallot, corn, and salami to a medium pot.

  6. Sauté.

    Sauté mixture over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until shallots are soft and corn is just cooked.

  7. Sauté more.

    Add tomatoes and parsley and sauté for about 2 minutes, just until tomatoes are warm.

  8. Serve.

    Place clams in a serving bowl. Spoon tomato-corn sauté on top of clams. Then spoon garlicky wine on top of everything.

  9. Garnish.

    Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with an extra bowl for shells, and of course, crusty bread!

What To Serve With Steamed Clams

Steamed clams can be served as a standalone dish or included in a larger meal. Here are a few of my favorite ways of serving them!

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Italian Steamed Clams

Master perfect steamed clams served in a white wine and garlic broth, with fresh corn and tomatoes, and bits of Italian salami. You’ll want crusty bread on the side to soak up all that sauce!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, New England
Keyword: spring, summer
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 240kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ pounds littleneck clams roughly
  • 1 cup dry white wine like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 ears of fresh corn about 1 ½ cups
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley chopped (plus more to garnish)
  • 4-6 slices calabrese or other salami sliced into ribbons
  • 1 large garlic clove slivered
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Crusty bread to serve (optional)

Instructions

  • Clean clams by adding about a ½ tablespoon of salt to a large bowl of cold water. Stir. Inspect clams for any cracked shells. Rinse clams under cold running water. Place them in the salted water bath for 20 minutes.
  • In a large pot, add wine, garlic slivers, and clams. Over medium-high heat, cover pot and bring wine to a boil.
  • Keep wine at a steady boil and let clams steam in closed pot for 5-10 minutes until clams fully open. When clams are open, they are ready!
  • While clams are steaming, in a separate medium pot, add butter, shallot, corn, and salami. Over medium-high heat, sauté mixture for about 5 minutes until shallots are soft and corn is just cooked.
  • Add tomatoes and parsley and sauté for about 2 minutes, just until tomatoes are warm but still intact.
  • Use tongs to place clams in a serving bowl. Spoon tomato-corn sauté on top of clams. Ladle a spoonful or two of the garlicky wine on top of everything.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with crusty bread and an extra bowl for shells.

Video

Notes

  • You can use steamers or larger clams but the cooking time may differ slightly. The rule of thumb is when the clams open fully, they are ready to eat!
  • I always prefer fresh corn but frozen corn also works.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 240kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 308mg | Potassium: 353mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 936IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
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