Baked Stuffed Clams

Although this recipe calls for fresh clams, you can also make this with canned minced clams (use one 6.5 ounce can, drained of all but 1 Tbsp of clam juice). Bake as directed on clam shells, or bake in a casserole dish and use as a dip with crackers.

If you've purchasing clams, keep them in the refrigerator covered with a damp, wet towel. If you have dug up your clams, keep them covered with cool sea water in a bucket. Throw away any cracked or broken clams.

  • Yield: Makes 10-12 stuffed clams. Serves 3-6.

Ingredients

  • 10-12 large chowder or quahog clams, rinsed, sand and grit removed
  • 3 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp clam juice (or cooking liquid from steaming the clams)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method

1 Fill a large pot with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water. Bring water to a boil. Add the clams to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the clams steam for approximately 6-10 minutes, until the shells open. Remove clams from the pot and let cool enough to handle. Discard any clams that have not opened (if they haven't opened it means they were dead to begin with and should not be eaten).

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2 Remove the clam meat from the clams (not the clam foot which is attached to the shell) and mince finely.

Break apart the clam shells from their hinges. Rinse. Pick 10-12 of the cleanest, nicest looking clam shells and set aside.

3 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a sauté pan, melt the butter on medium heat and add the minced onion. Once the onions have softened (2-3 minutes), add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 1 minute, then add the parsley, bread crumbs, minced clams, lemon juice, and clam juice. Stir until the stuffing mixture is completely moistened. (If too dry, add a bit more butter or clam juice; if too wet, add a bit more bread crumbs.

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4 Lay clam shells on a baking dish. Scoop a little stuffing mixture onto each clam shell. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until Parmesan is lightly browned on top.

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Variations:

Cook a few strips of bacon until fat renders but not brown or crispy, chop and mix in with the stuffing.

Use crumbled up Ritz crackers for the breadcrumbs.

Put a little piece of cheddar cheese underneath the clam mixture in each clam, that way you get a little melted cheese with each bite!

Tip:

Save your biggest, prettiest clam shells to use for future stuffed clam dishes. To clean, just rinse them off and run them through the dishwasher with your dishes.

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Comments

  • ap duffy

    Just made these again when I can home to find kind neighbor Diane left me a few Quahogs in fridge. I sent boys to convenience store for Ritz crackers (yum!) and picked first green pepper from garden to add some sweetness. This recipe is always so helpful, as I forget the steps…Thanks Elise! You, as always, are a gastronomic life-saver!!!

  • Dave Needham

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments and various recipes. My wife and I spend time on Cape Cod from April to November and quahoging is one of our favorite activities. By November we usually have 60 to75 stuffies in our freezer and enjoy one in front of the fireplae with a glass of wine during the winter. They also make a wonderful and much appreciated Christmas gift to friends and neighbors.
    Along with stuffies we also enjoy chowder year round. We find that freezing cooked quahogs in the cooking liquid works very well. We make a slight variation of the clear broth chowder by adding a small amount fat free half and half. As far as stuffies go our recipe mirrors that of many that commented. Using a combination of Ritz crackers and Italian flavored bread crumbs work well for us, We also add shrimp chopped in 1/4 inch pieces to our gift stuffies. And let us not forget other wonderful ways to enjoy these delicoius gifts from the sea. Raw on the half shell or try mixing some crumbled blue cheese with a little white wine until it becomes creamy and topping them with a dollop then put them on the grill until the cheese starts to bubble. Oh the joys of summer on the cape.

  • Linda

    If I bake in a casserole, what temperature and for how long?

  • Evo Gamboni

    Save & reuse the shells. For a quick appetizer, I use a can of minced clams (fast, easy & almost as good)

  • Laurie

    I’m a RI Native too, raised on the beaches there and though I don’t live there anymore, (I’ve been in FL for years now), reading everyone here from RI makes me home sick for Iggy’s Clamcakes & Chowder, Clams Alfonso from Marchetti’s, Fried Clams from Twin Oaks, Clam Zuppa from Crows Nest … I could go on ツ

    To me, these are Quahogs – as our Clams had necks (and are my favorite) though I love them all.

    We dug for clams at low tide on a rocky beach where “nests” of them could be found by throwing a rock on the ground hard, to see where they squirted. Then dig and dig fast. No getting wet or jelly fish required… bah!

    In any event, I could eat a clam or quahog any day of the week. I moved to a different part of FL recently where there are a lot more snowbirds and I’m finally able to get my hands on some! (Guess I’m in “Gods Waiting Room” now) ツ

    Anyway, I’m being long winded (lol) This recipe is close to how I make a “baked little neck” (quahog)” except I use crushed Ritz crackers – (also for stuffing fish, shrimp and lobster too) AND for this recipe, I use baked and crispy, crumbled bacon (I guess in place of the chourico)

    Also, we always soaked clams in fresh water and a good amount of bread crumbs for several hours to get the sand out – never used cornmeal – I prefer 4C. (shrug)

    Waves to old Neighbors! ♥

  • Tom98250

    My mother on Long Island used to make a version of this she called “Deviled Clams” – with very similar ingredients. There, the big clams were “chowder” clams, the smaller ones were cherrystones and littlenecks.

    Put some coarse salt in the bottom of the baking dish to keep the clam shells from tipping over and spilling the buttery juice.

    I’d second the notion of a little Sriracha or pepper flakes.

  • Shelli

    Just an FYI the part of the quahog that is attached to the shell is actually the muscles that the quahog uses to open and close it’s shell not the foot as you mentioned.

  • tom silva

    i’m from the cape now in florida but still make a great stuffed quahog. never heard theam called stuffie’s. I use ritz crackers as a base also leave the hole clam in the shell onion/diced carrots/red pepper flakes /1 lb diced clams and beacon on top

  • Mixxie from Rhode Island

    Very nice. You also need hot sauce, or red pepper flakes. :) Some people also add diced chourico (a staple Portuguese sausage—sort of like chorizo but not really). I personally prefer them a lot simpler. I’m glad you included the real name (stuffies) in your article. No one in Southern New England calls them ‘stuffed clams’. They are either formally, stuffed quahogs’ or, far more frequently in homes and on restaurant menus, ‘stuffies’.
    Quahoging is a way of life for some Rhode Islander’s. It amounts to a very significant supplemental income during lay-offs and hard times. My daughter’s boyfriend remembers a time his large family of 7 children lived off the quahogs is father raked for extra income.
    They also make the best clam chowder. Recently, my daughter found a lovely purple ‘pearl’ in a quahog.

  • Christina

    So as a fellow Rhode Islander who grew up on the water, I have to agree with John use the Ritz crackers you will definately taste the difference!

  • Debbie

    I have lived all my life in Fall River, MA, and make stuffed quahogs alot in the summertime. One poster’s recipe is similar to mine.

    I do soak the quahogs overnight in fresh water to rid them of sand.

    Steam the quahogs; reserve the water to soak my stale portuguese bread in. Squeeze as much water as you can from the bread, place in a bowl. I do add a little ground linquica, salt and pepper. I use my food processer to chop the clams; not grind, and add this to the bread mixture.

    I chop onion, saute it in oil; once soft, I add wet crushed pepper from the jar, freshly chopped parsley, and a little red cider vinigar.

    Then I add the bread mixture to the pan; leave on a very low flame turning over to dry up any excessive moisture in the bread. You do want it moist but not overly wet.

    Then I heartily stuff the quahog, close the shell, tie it with kitchen string, and bake for approx.30 minutes at 400 degrees. No need for butter with these babies; they are full of flavor. If you soak your bread in the quahog juice, the portuguese sausage will not overwhelm the flavor of the quahog.

  • John Ornberg

    Just a couple of points from an old RI clam digger on your stuffies recipe. You mentioned if you find a dead one in the pot after cooking, to not use it. Well, It’s probably too late to tell if it was dead before cooking at that point. Maybe the smell will make you want to throw out the whole pot!
    It’s a good idea to handle and rinse the clams when you are putting them in a pot to steam them open. That’s when you will find any dead ones. The shells of a very weak or dead quahog are usually partly open and when you tap them with a spoon or even your finger, they won’t respond. The smell will usually tell you its a goner! A healthy quahog will quickly close its shell tight.

    You mentioned not using the foot of the clam. The foot is the big muscle in the center of the quahog that it uses for digging deep into the bottom sand or mud. It is used in stuffies. I think the part you meant to mention are the two small round muscles that are attached to the shell that hold the shell closed. These are the so called “scallop” muscles of the quahog. They normally fall away from one shell and stick to the other. As far as sand being an issue. Quahogs have very little sand in their systems, most of it settles to the bottom of the steamer pot anyway and is not an issue. Soft shell clams have more sand. A lot if has to do with when they are dug. I have found that If taken on a low tide, or mostly low tide they tend to have more sand. When they are taken on an incoming tide the water is cleaner and they have less sedimentary sand in the gut.
    Another truely RI stuffie tradition is to use RITZ crackers instead of packaged bread crumbs. Try it, you will really taste the difference.

    One of your readers, Trudy, commented on quahogs not being clams. Well, they are clams. They are hard shell clams. Soft shell clams or “steamas” as we call them, are also clams. There are a lot of types of clams. The soft shell clams generally live in the tidal sand flats at 5 to 10 inches under the sand and do not propel themselves away as you try to dig them. They retract their feeding syphon back into their shell when disturbed. Bay scallops can move away, as they do not live under the sand. They hang out in the eel grass. They propel themselves away by pumping their shells and squirting water, much like a squid moves.
    Enjoy your stuffies,
    John O

    Hi John, thank you so much for the useful information on checking for dead clams, the clam foot, and the Ritz cracker tip! ~Elise

  • Gordon Mac

    Just reading the comments, saw the one from “Mark”and smiled. He’s absolutely right about using stuffing, it keeps them light instead of turning into a solid lump. I use Pepperidge Farms brand, and crush it up just enough to get the right amount of crumbs. As for linguica, where I’m from (The Vineyard) “stuffers” ain’t “stuffers” without it! Here’a couple tips for yall’, If you’re using chowder quahogs (Gaggers), you might want to discard some of the “bellies” as some of you off-islanders find the flavor too strong. I use “cherrystones”, the meat is tenderer and sweeter. For moistening the mix the broth is fine but some chicken broth adds a nice flavor. You can’t beat a meal of stuffers, chowda, and a piece of fish (or lobster) for one of the best meals you could ask for!!

  • RICK PATTERSON

    Yes sausage is great with your recipe. It’s quite like Emeril’s. I have been cooking and eating clams every way you can imagine I’m from new jersey and have great access to all types of clams. The best way to rid clams of sand and mud is to soak them in cold water the clam will clean itself by opening up and allow the sand and mud to be released. depending on how muddy the clam is it might take soaking overnight keep the water iced down and let the clam do the work.

  • Mark

    Ahhh stuffed quahogs! I’ve lived my whole life on Cape Cod – minus years in Hollywood I suppose – so I get the whole California disconect from this Atlantic summer tradition. Doing something productive at the beach on the Cape is a local tradition and reserved right! (When I lived in Santa Monica I barely knew what to do with myself at the beach!) Anyway we quahog year round in these parts so while this recipe gets used quite a bit in summer, it’s no stranger to the winter dinner table either. Oh and we do call them quahogs (co-hogs) and not clams. The big buggers in your pics are quahogs – if they were smaller they’d be little necks or cherrystones. All of them are clams of course.

    We have a strong Portugese fisherman tradition mixed in with Pilgrim and Wampanoag roots locally and I’m pretty sure the variety of stuffed quahog recipes is reflective of this fact. The inclusion of chourico or linguica to stuffed quahog recipes is more or less the accepted norm. If you’ve ever seen the store bought mush at the seafood counter that they pass off as a genuine “stuffie” then you’ve got a good example of what a stuffed quahog is NOT! The very best quahogs tend to be overstuffed and brimming with fresh peppers, onions, quahogs and stuffing!!! There are more than a few bait shops locally that also sell stuffed quahogs probably because fisherman both love them as a snack and because the shellfish are easy to come by from the clientele.

    Some of the best recipes I have ever tasted actually use plain turkey stuffing as the base! Yep – thats how you get to the overflowing stuffing part. In place of water you use the clam broth (or liquor as they sometimes call it) to wet the turkey stuffing. Doing this infuses the entire batch with a heavy and delicious shellfish taste! You can also use Portugese sweet bread (masa) which juxtaposes the spicy and the sweet. In a seperate pot you can sautee garlic, chourico (or linguica if you like a slightly less spicy taste – oh and I have tried recipes which include milder sausages such as bratwurst and polish kielbasa) and green peppers. Don’t fear trial and error with amounts because at the core, these are fun recipes which favor experimentation!!! Cut up the quahogs into chunks and in a large bowl mix the whole business together. At this point you can add a little Siracha pepper sauce or fresh cilantro to taste as well as to-taste wildcard ingredients such as garlic powder, sea salt or pepper.

    When the concoction is all mixed together it should appear chunky and varied. If its too wet or if the veggies are overcooked it will get mushy and thats not the desired effect. Take the mixture and stuff the roof off the shells and toss them in a 400 degree oven for about a half hour.

    Smear a pat of butter into the hot shells which will drip into the mixture, keep some tabasco handy for the hotheads in the bunch and watch the faces light up with the “where did you ever get this recipe???” looks.

  • Amanda

    I am from Cape Cod and have gone clam diggin more times than I can count! A few suggestions… wear sunscreen (lol) to prevent the sunburn and use a rake. You can seriously cut up your feet using your piggies!
    For a recipe suggestion… clean the clam, dip it in butter then flour with salt and pepper and fry them – SOOOO good. OR if you’re really ambitious make clam cakes – you’ll never be the same again! I don’t have a recipe for that one… do you?

  • Erica

    Stuffies! I find my self explaining these (along with clam cakes) to PA friends and co-workers quite often.

    I am heading up to my home state for a 12 day beach filled vacation & this is making my mouth water in anticipation. Although I have never been quahoging myself, my sister has. Using my grandfather’s old quahog rake of course. A great place to go is on the right side of the bridge as you head into Pt. Judith from Rte. 108.

    As for recipe preferences, I am non-sausage gal. We always, however, end up with a pat of butter and touch of hot sauce on top – regardless of the actual recipe.

    Thanks for the recipe & acknowledging a dish unique to a small part of the country.

  • trudy

    What you have posted is a picture of stuffed quahogs, not clams. Clams are what one commenter found near the holes in the sand.

    You need to have quahog rakes. Using your feet is too hard on your feet.

    There should be areas in most places where the quahogs are in shallower water.

    For clams, you use a hoe and dig down to the side of the holes, and then about a foot down undercut the hole area. That prevents the clams from digging down and escaping.

    Yes the cornstarch thing works, my Dad did that.

  • Jodi

    We always let the clams sit in fresh water in the crisper drawers of the fridge for up to a week but not so they would purge. It was more about timing, if you clammed on the weekend, steaming and cleaning clams wasn’t necessarily a weeknight process. After steaming, my mom would slice open the two sacs at the top of the clam and empty any sand, gunk and sometimes crude pearls that would still be in the digestive tract.

  • Lady Amalthea

    Unfortunately, I never did get to go clamming; by the time I was old enough, there was too much pollution out in Long Island where my family lived. My mother and her siblings used to go as children, though; I think they just used their toes, no rakes. And my uncle makes a fabulous clams casino recipe; similar to your stuffies, Elyse, but with little bits of good-quality (such as hickory or applewood-smoked) bacon. Lately we’ve done it with turkey bacon too, which was delicious.
    In terms of cleaning clams, we’ve always done the cornmeal trick–fill a bowl with cool, fresh water and pour in enough cornmeal to completely cover the bottom. Add clams and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let sit for at least an hour.

  • Marty

    Folks in Amagansett use clam rakes — more efficient than toes. Bring a clam knife and eat several of them right there in the water by “The Art Barge” on the Napeague strip — call next time you’re here and Ricky will take you clamming.

  • modus.9

    *excited* What do you know about Portuguese sausage? Sorry to stray off topic, but I cannot find any stateside since leaving home (Hawaii).

    The stuffies do look delicious; if only I could eat them.

  • [email protected] Cutting Edge of Ordinary

    As far as getting the sand out of the clams, here is what my Gram used to do. About 20 -30 mins before you cook them, dump out the salt water and fill your container with clean water. The clams should filter the clean water through and spit out the sandy water. Just make sure you strain them out of the water. Don’t pour the cleam water into your cooking vessel or you will have the sand back in your pot! Always worked for Gram. I have heard about the cornmeal trick but never had seen anyone use it.

    Enjoy your time in New England Elise! Pity you didn’t visit RI!

  • Brenda

    I enjoyed reading about your stuffing the clams and wanted to tell you an easy and also a delicious way of serving the clams. We rake the clams up from the sand with potato rakes, put them in a tub with water and when we get back to the beach house we put fresh water on them and cover them with corn meal. This will purge all the sand out. The next day they are ready to eat. We steam some but the best way we like them is to open them, throw away the top shell, and leave the clam on the other half, then put a pat of butter on the clam, sprinkle it with garlic salt and then broil until the butter melts. Then call the family and enjoy. As the saying goes, “Try it, you might like it”.

  • Laurie

    The recipe for ‘stuffies’ brings back so many memories for this Rhode Island native – thank you for posting it! If you have the chance while you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend trying Rhode Island clear-broth quahog chowder. Full disclosure – I wrote about quahog chowder for the website Leite’s Culinaria and included a recipe for it from a great local food writer, Linda Beaulieu. If you’re interested:

    http://www.leitesculinaria.com/writings/features/ri_chowder.html

    Enjoy your time in New England – and happy eating!

  • nora

    Happy Clam hunting!!!

    Do you cook the clams right away or let them sit it fresh sea water for couple hours before cooking them?

    Is there a quick way to pruge the sand out of the clams?

    What is the fastest way to get rid of the slime from Kalp/ Kubo?

    All great questions. Perhaps some of the clam diggers in our midst can take a stab at answering them. In the case of these clams, we dug them in the morning and let them sit in a bucket half filled with sea water and a little sand in the shade for several hours before cooking them. ~Elise

  • Billie

    The recipe doesn’t say what to do with the clams. Do you put them in the bottom of the shells? Mix them with the stuffing?

    Doh! Sorry about that. Mix them in with the stuffing. Recipe adjusted. ~Elise

  • Jodi

    I grew up on Long Island Sound in Connecticut and my family has been clamming as long as my grammy can remember. We, too, go out in chest deep water but use long handled clam rakes and a bushel basket tied to the inside an inner tube to hold the clams we dig. We can dig a bushel per day per person. We steam the clams open saving some of the broth. To stuff them, we grind or mince 2 cups clams with a medium to large RAW onion, half a pound RAW bacon and one sleeve of butter crackers such at Waverly or Late July. Making sure it has an even pea gravel sort of texture, no big hunks and not pureed into baby food. If it doesn’t hold together add a little broth to moisten. Refill the half clamshells so they are slightly rounded and bake covered in a 350 oven for about an hour then uncover and bake 15 minutes until golden. The filling can also be baked in a loaf pan but it won’t have the beachy flavor the shells impart. The clams freeze well either in their broth or stuffed, ready to pop into the toaster oven.

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Traditional in these Rhode Island parts is to add a bit of finely chopped chourico. Me? I skip the sausage, because I think it can overwhelm the flavor of the clams, but I like to use panko instead of regular bread crumbs, and to pile high the filling in each clam shell.