Clams Steamed in White Wine, Garlic and Herbs

There is nothing like a big bowl of garlicky steamers, crusty fresh bread for dipping and a glass of Pinot Grigio.  For my husband and I it’s a feast!  Because littlenecks, or manilla clams, are so readily available most of the year, this is one of those casual sit outside on the deck and enjoy the sunset summer meals, or sit inside by the fireplace winter meals.  No matter what the season, it’s always fun to sit in front of a huge bowl of steamers. 

These little beauties are also fabulous as a starter.  However you’d like to serve them, they’re quick to prepare and delicious.  Of course garlic is the key here.  So if you don’t like garlic, you may want to increase the herbs and maybe add some spicy chorizo to the onions for extra flavor. 

I have several different recipes for steamers, but this one is the simplest and purest.  If you’d like to change it up a bit, I’ll give a few extra options at the end of the recipe.  I actually used a local dark beer once as I forgot to purchase the white wine!  It was really good, but different.  So feel free to mix it up and use this recipe as a guide to creating your perfect steamers.

Tip: Be sure to keep your clams in the frig with the bag open to allow the clams air.  Use them the same day as purchase, or you can cook them up to one day after purchase.   Happy Cooking!


Serves 2 (can be doubled)


2-3 lbs Fresh littleneck or manilla clams, washed, scrubbed and rinsed in cool water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 small yellow onion, small diced or 2 medium leeks chopped

8-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh oregano

1 sprig fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives (optional)

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 cup dry white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Squeeze of fresh lemon


In a large stock pot heat the oil and butter over medium high heat until nice and hot.  Add the onion and saute until translucent and then add the garlic and saute a few minutes more. 

Toss in the fresh herbs, red pepper flakes, sprinkle in a little salt and pepper and then add the clams.  Coat the clams with the herb mixture and then add the white wine.  Let the wine come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. 

Let the clams steam in the broth for about 5 minutes then lift the lid to check the clams.  When all the clams have opened they are done.  It can take 5-10 minutes to cook all the clams, depending on the size of the stock pot.  Toss them around in the broth and check for seasoning.  Pour them into a large serving bowl and top with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Serve with crusty fresh bread or garlic crostini. 

Options:  Add in 1/2 lb of chorizo with the onions and garlic.  It’ll really kick up the spicy flavors so you won’t need to add the red pepper flakes.

Add in whatever fresh herbs you like.  Lemongrass would be nice, and maybe rosemary.  But be careful with rosemary as it can be overpowering to the broth. 

Recipe Idea: Another idea is to serve these clams over a spaghetti or linguini pasta.  My daughter likes to take a few tablespoons of melted butter and pan sear about 1/4 cup bread crumbs in the butter until toasty.  Then she mixes in her cooked spaghetti and pours the clams and broth over the buttered spaghetti!  Divine!!!  Top with grated parmesan and fresh chopped parsley.


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