Steamed clams have always been one of my favorite summer snacks. While basic clams are always great, I’ve amped this recipe up with lots of butter, garlic, fresh herbs, cream, and of course, beer. Served with crunchy toasted bread, these clams will absolutely knock your socks off.
My creamy beer steamed clams almost taste like garlicky clam chowder with every bite. While the sauce is not thick, the cream will absolutely remind you of your favorite New England-inspired chowder. I was really lucky to grow up in a home where my mom was always whipping up something like this. The best part is it’s so easy to make and you can throw everything right on the grill. Need I say more?
There are numerous types of clams you can use. Littleneck, cherrystone, steamer, chowder, and manila to name a few. I prefer clams without the protruding necks for this recipe because it’s a little easier to handle and they don’t require additional work.
Before cooking clams, you’ll want to soak them in cool fresh water for about 30 minutes or so. This will actually help remove any salt/sand from inside the clams. If any of the clams do not shut or remain slightly open after tapping gently on the counter, you should discard them as they’re likely dead.
If you don’t have time to prep or are in a rush, at a minimum, give them a good rinse and discard any that do not close as previously mentioned.
How to Steam Clams
When it comes to clams or mussels, it’s as simple as simmering in a saucepan in whatever sauce or liquid you choose, for about 5-10 minutes or until the shells pop open. A large pan with a lid is usually the quickest but you can also simmer open or even in a skillet on the grill. Keeping the grill lid shut will speed speed up the process.
What Beer Should I Use?
I’m an IPA or pale ale guy but you can use any beer you like. The beer flavor is very subtle, however, a nice blonde, wheat, or pale ale is a great place to start. If you like hoppy beers, I recommend trying a New England-style IPA. It will give you a more citrusy, juicy flavor. If all else fails, sure, throw in a Bud Light.
I would avoid super dark or ultra malty beers, as they may clash with the cream. If you don’t like beer you can substitute it with water or even white wine.
Toasted (Grilled) Bread
Don’t underestimate or skip the toast. At restaurants, steamed clams or mussels are always served with slices of toasted French/Italian bread on the side for dipping. A delicious step that must not be forfeited. I like to either butter both sides or drizzle with a little olive oil. Since this recipe is all prepared right on the grill, it makes for an easy and delicious side to serve with the clams. This recipe goes exceptionally well paired with a crisp cool beer. I can’t think of a better scenario right now.
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Steamed clams made in a creamy beer sauce consisting of cream, beer, butter, garlic, fresh herbs, and cayenne pepper. Always serve with crispy grilled buttered bread.
- 2–3 pounds littleneck clams
- 2 cups ale or pale ale
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 lemon, juice squeezed
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Serve with grilled slices of French/Italian bread (oiled or buttered)
- Soak clams in cool fresh water for about 30 minutes or so. This will help remove any salt/sand from inside the clams shells. If any of the clams do not fully shut or remain slightly open after tapping gently on the counter, you should discard them as they’re likely dead.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Let the grill heat up with the cover down with a heat-safe cast iron skillet inside.
- Once skillet is warm, melt the butter and add onions. Cook for a few minutes until onions tenderize, about 3-4 minutes. Add the beer, garlic, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper and bring to a simmer. Carefully add the clams to the simmering sauce, close the grill lid and cook until the shells pop open. About 7-10 minutes. I like to stir halfway through.
- While the clams are steaming, drizzle a little olive oil over some slices of bread (both sides). Grill for 1-2 minutes per side or until golden and crunchy. You can also butter the bread.
- Once the clams are cooked, remove from the heat (SKILLET WILL BE HOT) and stir in cream and parsley. Serve clams with grilled bread.
You can also cook clams on the stovetop in a large covered saucepan. This is usually quicker but I love being outside in the summer and using the grill.
- Serving Size: 7-10 clams
- Calories: 307
- Sugar: 2.8g
- Sodium: 145mg
- Fat: 14.7g
- Saturated Fat: 8.8g
- Carbohydrates: 18.3g
- Fiber: 1.7g
- Protein: 11.2g
- Cholesterol: 61mg
Keywords: steamed clams, how to steam clams, steamers recipe