How to Grill Clams

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I suppose I have to admit that I’ll be subjecting you to a series of beachy, New England-style summer recipes for a week or two.  Not that you have to live anywhere near New England to make these recipes, but you can certainly pretend that you’re lounging on a Cape Cod beach, book plopped in front of you and a chilly beverage in hand.  That’s a nice visual, isn’t it?  Here’s another nice visual:  learning How To Grill Clams!

I’ve never been much for taking these little shellfish home and trying to figure out what to do with them.  But grilling them is simply a no-brainer way to whip them up, and you’ll want to do it again and again and again! (even if you live in Nebraska or Kansas or Wisconsin)

I picked up clams and a bunch of tiny mussels too.  They are both grilled the same way.  We went all old-fashioned and used a charcoal grill for these.  You can use a gas grill if you’d like.  Just get the coals or the grill nice and hot, and add your clams/mussels to the grate.

It takes between 5 and 10 minutes until you begin to see them open.  When your clams have completely opened (like this one on the right), remove them carefully to a large bowl (carefully… because you want to be able to take the clam juice with you that will be in the shell).  This guy on the left here isn’t quite done, so give clams like that a few more minutes until they have opened up wide.  Mussels will pop open too, but they won’t open nearly as wide.

Once you’ve gathered up all of your clams (and maybe mussels too), pour this fabulous garlic-butter-shallot-wine sauce over the top.

And have some baguette ready for dunking!

Here’s the part where you get to pretend that you’re on the beach.  See how that works?  V.I.S.U.A.L.I.Z.E.

We enjoyed these for a summer weeknight happy hour at the beach earlier this week… my husband, my sister and me!

And we can’t wait to make them again!

How to Grill Clams

Same goes for mussels in this recipe- grill them the same way. Mix with the clams if you'd like.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 10 min


4 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
(1 pound per person)
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1 large shallot, chopped finely
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 baguette, sliced


1. Preheat your grill to medium or get a charcoal fire going.

2. While the grill is preheating, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic- cook and stir until the shallot is softened. Add wine, lemon and red pepper flakes, and continue to cook until heated throughout. Keep warm.

3. Add clams to the grill. The clams will begin to open up between 5 and 10 minutes on the grill. Carefully pull each clam off individually as they open up wide, taking the clam juice in the shell with you. Place the cooked clams in a large bowl. Continue pulling clams off the grill until all have opened up.

4. Pour the Garlic-Shallot-Wine Sauce over the top of the clams. Serve immediately with baguette slices for dunking into the sauce. Serve with forks and a large empty bowl for gathering the empty shells.


*Make sure your seafood person gives you clams that are all completely closed up. Clams that are open when you buy them are no good, and you'll need to toss those.
*For cleaning your clams: At your market, the clams are usually sold pretty well clean (ask to make sure!) I always give them a good rinse at home too and inevitably find some extra sand hiding. *For fresh dug clams, online sources share the following method for cleaning: place them in a pot with cold water, and add 1/2 cup of corn meal. Refrigerate with this mixture for 4 hours. This allows the clams to filter out sand.
*Some folks like to grill clams in a foil pan so you can be sure to catch all of the juices and make the sauce right in the pan. I wasn't into grilling with a foil pan, so I just made sure I grabbed them as soon as they popped open, juices and all.


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  • Theona S wrote:

    Can’t wait to try this… do you leave the lid to your grill open or closed? If closed how do you spot them when they open up!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      closed– give a little peek now and then until they open!

  • Dom wrote:

    Made this recipe last night. Substituted butter for olive oil. We also added cubes of pork in the sauce for a surf and turf edge. I also substituted white wine for a strong ale.

    It worked out well but I regret not using a foil pan for the clams; picking them from the griddle without dumping all the juice is a balancing act. I poured what juice I had left into the sauce. Also remember that the mussels cook in 2-3 minutes. It’s safe to only put them on the grill when you start removing the first clams. Otherwise they’ll be overcooked or you’ll have to worry about keeping them warm off the grill.

    This goes perfectly with corn on the cob, also cooked on the grill.

    Overall great recipe!

  • Kristen wrote:

    These were awesome! So simple and sooooo delicious! We like to slather bread with a garlic olive oil spread and grill it.

  • Melissa M wrote:

    Sounds delicious! My family’s all time favorite summer clam recipe is stuffed clams, yum!

  • Vicky wrote:

    WOw I never even knew you could grill clams! Got to try this next time I’m home in New England visiting my parents! Love the photos of the clams by the beach! Wish I was there now instead of stuck in an office doing accounting!

  • Laura @ Family Spice wrote:

    Okay, next year I’m joining you on your vacation! Move over, Recipe Boy!

  • Terra wrote:

    We are grilling mussels this weekend, they are delicious for sure! I love your wine, butter, Shallot, garlicky goodness, it looks DELISH! I remember having mussels with bacon and blue cheese, that was pretty amazing:-) Hugs, Terra

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspective wrote:

    Oh Lori, I SO wish I was your next door neighbor!!

  • Cathy @ Noble Pig wrote:

    This reminds of a trip to a seaside Rhode Island home where we had fabulous grilled clams…they are just so good…especially the sauce….with the bread!

  • JulieD wrote:

    These look amazing! I have never grilled clams or mussels before…a must try now. Thanks, Lori!

  • Liz – Meal Makeover Mom wrote:

    Well, you certainly picked the best week of the summer to be in New England. Love your post! So delish… Now I’m excited for my upcoming long weekend trip to Nantucket!

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious wrote:

    I don’t have a grill yet but I’ll definitely be saving this post when I finally invest in one!

  • Lisa wrote:

    We just did this in KS this weekend! Funny you mention that… We purchased the mussels, clams and shrimp (we added that) at The Fresh Market in Wichita KS. Ours looked a little too “saucy” compared to yours. What was interesting, that these are alive so – transport from store to home in over 100 degree weather was a challenge – but the store came to the rescue and helped make an open air and ice home for them. Super easy light dinner! Thanks for sharing ( I will add red pepper next time)

  • RecipeGirl’s Mom wrote:

    Very interesting post and enticing photos. I;ve never tasted mussels. Grandpa J. trapped them, brought them home, boiled them and ate them all by himself. Grandma wouldn’t get near a mussel and we followed her lead. Bad choice. These look good.

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks wrote:

    Oh haaaayell yeah!

  • Barbara wrote:

    Fun post, Lori. And your shallot/wine sauce sound delicious!

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet wrote:

    We made grilled clams recently for the first time and I loved how easy it was! This sauce sounds delicious! I made a hot dipping sauce for ours.