Grilled clams are a great way to enjoy fresh seafood in the summer without heating up the house. These Grilled Garlic Butter Clams are always a hit.
New England summers have always meant copious amounts of seafood for me. And this year is no different — so as soon as the temperatures hit that comfortable level where grilling outside can be accompanied with eating outside, we picked up some littleneck clams to grill.
Our local butcher shop, which also features a nice selection of fresh fish, had piles of clams in the display case when the kids and I stopped in after soccer practice on a recent Saturday. We were buying burgers for dinner, and house-made hot dogs for lunch. But when the kids said, “Mommy, can’t we get some clams too?” I didn’t hesitate for a second. It’s seafood time!
I love making clams on the grill — it reminds me of summers in Connecticut. My grandfather taught me how to grill clams, so I associate the technique with New England cuisine (or maybe it’s just a family thing?).
Making this recipe is simple: You heat the grill up, and put the scrubbed-clean clams directly on the grates (always remember to wash your clams to remove sand and grit from the shells!). Sometimes, I will also put a pan of beer to infuse them with a little steamy ale, but you don’t have to. Then you wait for them to cook. It’s so incredibly simple and when the clams open, they are ready to be removed to a serving plate.
As they near completion, you can also whip up a quick garlic butter sauce that’s amazing with the salty, meaty littleneck clams we prefer. It’s magical.
My kids are huge clam fans too. They are the first in line to swipe a fried clam from my plate when we head to a favorite seafood shack in the summer. And if you put a plate of clams out, they will both reach for them instantly.
It’s good. I love that they enjoy seafood as much as I do.
Are you a fan of clams?
- 1 dozen littleneck clams
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Preheat your grill to its medium setting or prepare charcoals for grilling.
- While the grill is heating up, scrub all the clams to remove any sand or grit from the shells.
- Place the clams directly on the grates of the grill and close the lid. Cook, checking occasionally, until all the shells have opened (about 5-7 minutes). Discard any unopened clams.
- As the clams are opening, place a small cast iron skillet on the grill and add the butter. Melt until bubbly and golden. Add the garlic and stir. Cook for about 1 minute – or until softened and translucent. Spoon the garlic butter over the clams (inside the shell!). But be careful, the pan will be extremely hot – make sure to use a potholder whenever handling it.
- Sprinkle the clams with kosher salt. Devour.
Be extremely careful handling the cast iron pan. It will be HOT -- always take proper precautions and use pot holders.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.