These steamed clams without wine are made in a delicious butter herb broth that is super flavorful. You won't miss the wine at all! This recipe uses littleneck clams, but mussels are an easy substitute as well.
Wine-Free Steamed Clams
Also known as the easiest dinner ever. Once I made clams for the first time, I realized I had been missing out for years. These things cook in just 7 minutes? And they let you know when they're done by opening?! It doesn't get any easier than that.
Unfortunately most of the recipes out there contain lots of citrus and wine, two potential migraine diet triggers according to Heal Your Headache. Luckily with this recipe for littleneck clams in a wine-free herbed butter broth, you'll hardly notice they're sitting this one out.
How to Pick and Wash Clams
The hardest part about clams is getting them prepared for cooking. You can typically find good littleneck clams at your local fish store or in Whole Foods. Your fishmonger should know this, but do not put them in a plastic bag that's closed up. They're alive and need to breathe. If you're not using them right away, I like to keep them in a bowl in the fridge or on ice. I also like to buy these the day of, just to make sure they're as fresh as possible.
To check if they're alive, they should either be closed or should close in a few seconds after you give them a little tap on your counter. If there is a large chip in one or if it doesn't close, just discard it to be safe. I usually only end up discarding about 2-3 at most. If you have more than that, I would let your grocery store or fish guy know and maybe they'll give you a discount next time (I've personally never had this issue with clams specifically though).
To clean them, just scrub them with a bristle brush to remove excess grit and sand. Then gently set them in a bowl of fresh, cold water. Leave them submerged for about 15-20 minutes. Then carefully pull them out (if you dump them then you'll just pour all the grit/sand they expelled back on them!), and place them on a towel. While they're submerged, you can prep your pot and start the broth. The whole thing comes together in under 30 minutes!
How Do I Know Clams Are Cooked?
Clams let you know when they're done by opening! If you find one or two aren't opening with the others, give them another minute or two to simmer with your lid on. Sometimes if I give them a tap with a spoon, they'll open. If they don't open after all of this, just discard them.
What to Serve with Steamed Clams in Broth
The obvious accompaniment to clams is something to soak up the sauce, so any bread you love will go perfectly. Clams aren't exactly a super hearty dish, but you eat them slowly so they fill you up without having a ton (I mean, and all the bread in sauce helps). I usually get about 2-2.5 pounds for a full meal and my husband usually eats 2 servings, so they serve about 2-3 total. If you want these as an appetizer, they'll serve about 4-5 people.
A light, green salad pairs perfectly with this dish. I'd use my Italian Herb Dressing with romaine or butter lettuce.
For more migraine-friendly seafood recipes, check out these other options.
Steamed Clams in (Wine Free) Herbed Butter Broth
- 2-2.5 lbs littleneck clams
- 3 tablespoon butter or ghee (for a whole30 or paleo option)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 - ¼ cup broth * See my instant pot chicken broth for an easy recipe!
- ½ cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 1 - ½ tablespoon chopped chives
- 2 teaspoon white vinegar
- Optional: ¼ cup heavy cream
- Make sure your clams are stored in a cool place and are able to breathe (so don't close the bag they're in or submerge them in water while storing). Scrub clams under water and place into a large bowl with ice cold water. Discard any with large chips or that do not close with a little "tap" on your counter. Allow them to sit for 15-20 minutes to expel any extra grit/sand. Carefully remove each one (do not dump) and place on a towel.
- While clams are sitting in water, prepare a large, heavy bottomed dutch oven or pot with cover by melting butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute for about 1 minute. Then add garlic and saute a minute longer.
- Add broth and bring to a simmer. Then carefully add in clams. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Clams will open when they're done. If one does not open, give it a little longer to simmer. Throw out if it continues to not open.
- Remove clams from the pot with a slotted spoon and place into a big bowl. Meanwhile turn the heat up a little bit to get a strong simmer going. Simmer the broth an extra 4 minutes or so, until it's reduced enough to your liking. Pour the reduced broth over the clams.
- Top with fresh herbs and vinegar, which will give it the acidity you miss from wine or citrus. DO NOT ADD SALT - the clams should be salty enough as is. You can always add more later. Serve immediately. Bread is a really great idea here (unless doing a paleo or whole30 option) to sop up all that butter broth!
- This recipe really serves 2-3 people for a full meal and 4 people as an appetizer.
- If you add the optional ¼ cup of heavy cream, do it after the clams have been removed while you reduce the leftover stock.
- Mussels can easily be substituted for clams in this recipe, they usually follow the same cleaning rules but you want to make sure they are debearded (google it). They will also open when ready and may take a little longer to steam.
chris Pelletier says
My wife and I had an unconventional thanksgiving….clams and lobster!
Thank you for the most amazing clam recipe! The broth was sooooo good!!!!
What an amazing idea!! This is giving me inspiration for next year.
Joel (hōel) G. says
Thank you so much for this recipe. I made it for my family and they all loved it. Even the kids enjoyed having clams for the first time and replied with, “We love spending time with you guys and eating clams!” I definitely will make this one again.
Thank you, Joel! That's such a great story.
Great summer recipe thank you!
Ann Brisllin says
These are a family favorite for us and we make them all the time. They’re so good for summer and I appreciate all the tips.
I don’t recommend the snooty reviewer belows comments haha. As someone who has cooked clams countless times too it’s always safer for everyone to go with fresh. They can easily die in water. That’s my two cents. 🙂
My family has had a clam bake for the last 30+ yrs.We're purists so we use an outdoor triple level steamer w/water & dip in butter but I want to try something besides water or wine broths & stumbled across your post. I added way more garlic, parsley & omitted the chives, it was good!
I will say with some experience that my 12yr old & I have went through 4-50count bags in the last 2 weeks, oh and there's another 1 hidden in the back of the fridge! 2lbs isn't even enough 4 an app!
Clams should be stored in water & ice in the fridge or a cooler, that's how 2 store them safely for a few days. Also the longer they soak in salt water, the better they are! Not 1 clam will have sand.
OH & NEVER COVER THEIR ICE BATH
This was great. I never made clams before and they came out great! I opted for adding the heavy cream and the sauce was delicious. I don't have migraines, I just wanted a recipe with no wine. Fantastic.
Thanks, Ron! I always say these recipes are great for everyone. I'm so glad you enjoyed!
Amazing! Made it two nights in a row!
I really appreciated all your detailed tips to make this less scary. They broth was flavorful and delicious. We practically drank it haha thank you!
I made the clams last night let’s say they didn’t not disappoint. This recipe is going into our menu rotation for sure
Let’s just say I knew enough to get more clams than the recipe said
There wasn’t anything left but the shells
Your added comments on getting the sand out was so helpful
My husband was funny I caught him licking the bowl
So thrilled you loved them Donna...haha we usually use some of the shells to scoop up all the sauce that's left! I always wonder if I should add more clams to the recipe - my husband and I can polish off 2 pounds no problem!
Thank you so much for this wine-free clam broth recipe - it was amazingly delicious. Made it tonight, and I can see that it's something I'll keep coming back to.
I'm glad you enjoyed it!