Steamed Clams With Spring Herbs Recipe (2024)



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Cooking Notes

Will Hoover

If you have access to seawater (or bay water that connects to the ocean), then get a bucket of it, place all your clams in it, and pour in some corn meal. The clammies love the cornmeal, and suck it in like crazy, eliminating any sand that may be in their gut, while also stuffing them with cornmeal. Delicious, no matter what you do with the clammies!


I have made this several times before with mussels. Today there were no mussels to be had, even for ready money, so I used clams. Where I live clams cost three times as much per pound than mussels. Not worth it. The fabulous flavor of this dish is in the sauce. And note that clams put much more salt into the sauce than mussels do. Be sure to add a quarter cup of white wine to the steaming and to have lots of crusty for sopping.


I switched out the tarragon for oregano, and chives for green onions, and added some white wine to increase the steam factor. These were amazing, and the best recipe for steamed clams I've had.

J. David Nelson

For those backing away from tarragon, please re-consider.


You need to add a liquid to the pot before cooking the clams or they will not open. Add some water or wine or both.


Cooked easily (~5-6 minutes needed, I can't imagine how overcooked they'd be if you went the full 10 min range), but since I didn't have any decent fresh bread on hand, I didn't eat with any -- that was an error. The lime and taragon and chives mixed very well, but were definitely on the strong side. Next time, fresh french bread and 50% as much tarragon.


like others I found the idea of tarragon overpowering so chose to omit. I used local Manila clams & although it's a change to the traditional wine & shallots approach to cooking clams, it's a delicious one. The lime adds a less acidic note to the flavour than lemon. Will be my new go to recipe for cooking clams

Dick Blumenthal

Made it today, 5/2/015 , as directed. At 5 minutes Thought the clams would never open, and suddenly they did. The end result, with the butter, chives, lime juice and zest were sensational.

Marnie Olena

Was very excited about this dish but it ended up with a really bitter taste - any ideas why?


Really easy and delicious. I think tarragon is too strong so I left it out and it was still great.


I am in agreement regarding the saltiness of this recipe made with littleneck clams. My fishmonger is able to procure "New England steamers" or soft shell clams which have a flavor unsurpassed (imo) for summertime steamed clams. Yeah, yeah - peeling the "sock" is a hassle but the sweetness is well worth a little work!


Loved the recipe as is. Made this last night and it was amazing. No need to add water to it to steam clams. The clams themselves make there own juice. A few mins in I was worried about that too. But a few mins later the pot had its own broth at the bottom. Will be making this again.


I love steamed clams, and often vary the steaming liquid. Sometimes I find tarragon overpowering so I use other fresh herbs. Regardless, a pot of steamed Seattle butter clams (I find them smaller, sweeter, less chewy than Littlenecks) always brings a smile to my guests -- everyone is "happy as a clam."


Thanks. Not a tarragon fan. Was wondering what would be good for a switch out.


Superb! We added a finely chopped plum tomato for color/acid and a spot of white wine. Great recipe.

M Aksut

Fantastic recipe! This was my first time making clams and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. They were delicious. I followed the recipe exactly. I thought the clams even tasted amazing without the butter sauce. Both ways were delicious. I didn’t need any extra liquid. The clams released plenty to make the sauce. And mine took about 12 min. To fully open. I served some plain pasta on the side and we all enjoyed spooning the sauce over the noodles. Enjoy!


First-time clam-steamers here! We dialed back the tarragon based on other chefs’ suggestions and were glad we did. We need to tinker with salt- and fresh-water soaks, as our clams were pretty salty in the end. And the lime was really overpowering, in our opinion, so won’t be repeating this recipe. But we’re inspired to add fresh clams to our regular rotation!!


I see a few comments saying you need to add liquid to get the clams to open. You do not. Hot pot, olive oil, liquid inside the clams already. You get a bit of a smoky flavor following this recipe. Use a pot, not a pan, to hold the heat in. I made this dish 3 times this past summer and it was so perfect & easy as is. Add wine & other herbs if you want different flavors but not necessary to the recipe.


I did mine with parsley instead of tarragon because some of the other comments scared me, but otherwise followed the recipe. The lime was an interesting variation from the lemon that I'm used to, and the chives were maybe not as aromatic as the traditional shallots, but overall I really did like it. I may advise unsalted butter, turns out clams taste like the ocean and the ocean is salty. The bread is absolutely essential, the broth is the best part.

Alison S

Delicious! I know clams release a lot of liquid, but we were looking for some extra juice for dunking crusty bread. After sautéing the garlic and tarragon, I added 1/2 cup of wine wine and let it simmer for about a minute before adding the clams. Otherwise cooked as directed and it was an absolute hit. Will be on repeat.


Terrific! Followed the recipe exactly but used homemade pasta—thanks to my Phillips pasta extruder—instead of a baguette.


After saute of the garlic, tarragon, add a nice IPA about half a bottle. Then steam the clams. After they open Remove all the clams to a nice big pasta bowl. still in the lime and red pepper for 20 seconds. Then wish in the butter and the lime juice...than pour all the goodness all over your waiting clams...make sure to have lots of toasted garlic bread for dipping


I’ve made this several times with littlenecks from Costco. It is delicious. I’ve tried it with and without a fresh jalapeño (sautéed with the garlic); with wine, without wine… it’s a flexible recipe. BUT agree with other reviewers ZERO salt is needed. The clams are plenty salty. Some crusty bread to dip. Mmm so good. Thanks, Melissa!

Kathleen L

Agreed this recipe needs liquid—a splash of white wine added after the garlic and tarragon did the trick. Subbed a scallion for the chives. No salt needed, as the clams are briny. Perfect! Have bread on hand to sop up the broth.

leslie j

Agree that clams are very salty , so be careful about how long and far your reduce the broth .


Didn't have tarragon, so I used a teaspoon of fennel seed along with the garlics. Worked out nicely.


Well, another hit from Melissa Clark. We are in the PNW, so we used clams from the Hood Canal area. Had fresh tarragon and chives. Funny, because before I saw this I told my husband that a splash of Pernod would be great, but tarragon added a similar light licorice flavor. Lime zest was a nice shot of zing. Did add a bit of white wine to the clams. With some fresh garlic toast, this a nice twist on steamed clams that was heaven in a bowl.

Debbie Wight

I cook clam dishes all the time, and I do not like tarragon, but tried it, because, well why not? Served it with the crusty bread, although pasta would have worked too. Really tasty, but oh so salty. I love salt. I eat things just for the salt, but this was distracting. What could I have done to lessen the overwhelming salt taste?


Although I was a little skeptical about the combination of tarragon and lime juice with clams, I tried this recipe as written. It was beyond delightful! Tarragon can be overpowering in some dishes, but it's perfect in this one. I added a splash of dry white wine, too, just in case the clams didn't have enough liquid (they vary), and it was still quite salty, so was glad I had diluted it a bit with that. The flavor of this dish was so zesty and vibrant; very springlike! Thanks again, Melissa!

Paula Munch

This dish is fantastic - did exactly as written. Easy - and incredible delicious!

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Steamed Clams With Spring Herbs Recipe (2024)


What do you put in the water when steaming clams? ›

Steaming Clams

Add one to two inches of water or your favorite beer (this adds bite) in a large steamer or pot and add clams. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover tightly. Steam clams for 3 to 5 minutes, until their shells open.

How many minutes do you steam clams? ›

Steam the clams.

Cover and let cook over medium heat until they open up (This will take anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes). Clams will let you know when they're ready; their shells will simply open. Watch for that and do not overcook them or they're turn too chewy and rubbery.

How many steamers per person? ›

You will need about ½-1 lb/person as an appetizer or 1-2 lbs/person if it's the main course. One pound will get you about 12-15 clams. The best way to clear the grit out of steamer clams is to put them into a large bowl or basin and add ⅓ cup sea salt to 1 gallon of cold water ratio.

How many clams for one person? ›

Clams are done when they open up, so whether you are steaming, grilling or baking it is easy to know when they are ready to eat. Plan on one to two dozen per person for your party. This is usually a good gauge for estimating how many clams you need to buy.

How much salt do you add to water to soak clams? ›

To purge clams, they must be submerged in a saltwater solution of 1/3 cup salt mixed with 1 gallon water for 30 minutes, after which the water should be changed. This should be repeated two or three times. Alternatively, the clams can be left in a large amount of water overnight.

What happens if you don't soak clams? ›

The importance of soaking clams

The line is clearly drawn in the sand. AllRecipes says you do want to soak your clams. The outlet suggests soaking clams in fresh water for 20 minutes to help the clam filter out any sand or whatever is in the clam's digestive system.

Can you soak clams too long? ›

Leave your clams too long, and they suffocate and die. Overnight is what I normally do with a 50-clam limit of Western littlenecks and 4 to 10 horseneck or Washington clams.

How do you know when steamed clams are ready? ›

Cooking Steamer Clams

Cook just until shells pop open wide, that's the best way to tell when they're done. When steaming, keep liquid at a minimum so the mollusks aren't boiled.

Are clams good for you? ›

For those looking to maintain a healthy weight without compromising on protein intake, clams are a fantastic option. They offer a substantial amount of protein with relatively low-calorie content, making them a smart choice for those focused on weight management and overall well-being.

What is the difference between steamers and clams? ›

Unlike hard-shell clams (known here as quahogs, cherry stones, or little necks, depending on their size), steamers have rather thin, brittle shells, so you have to be gentle with them. The two sides of the shell don't close all the way. Instead, protruding from the shell is a long foot, or siphon.

When should you not cook clams? ›

Eating clams that haven't opened during cooking is risky because it may indicate they were dead before cooking or are contaminated, leading to food poisoning. Always discard unopened clams to ensure safety. When it comes to preparing and enjoying shellfish, safety and quality are paramount.

Why are my clams rubbery? ›

While this method itself is super simple, clams can be extremely delicate and overcook easily, which will result in the chewy, rubbery texture that can give these mollusks a bad name.

Can you over boil clams? ›

Cooking slowly will help all the clams open. Cook them too fast, and you risk overcooking them, which can cause them to be a bit tough and fall out of their shells.

Why do you soak clams in salt water? ›

Soaking the Clams

Saltwater is often considered to be the more effective method as it mimics the clams' natural habitat for cleaning.

Can you put clams in tap water? ›

At home, quickly wash every clam under cold tap water to remove mud or grit on the outside of the shell.

How do you keep steamer clams alive? ›

Because clams must be allowed to breathe to stay alive, store them in a single layer, covered with a damp cloth in the fridge (40ºF), and use them as soon as possible—definitely within two days. Never store clams covered or sealed in plastic. Any clams that die before being cooked should be discarded.

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