Pot of Littleneck Clams

I come from a family of cooks, fishermen, sailors and singers who all grew up on the ocean. There are a lot of us — my dad was one of twelve, my mom was one of five and most of my forty-eight first cousins still live within the region. The simple pot of clams is a staple beach recipe: it’s two ingredients, best eaten with your hands, and easily scalable to feed a crowd. Serve it alongside a big bowl of salad and a board of bread and butter. (Please dip a hunk of bread in that bottom-of-the-pot clam broth.)

Serves 4.


  • 3 pounds littleneck clams
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter


Step 1

Scrub the littlenecks under cold water to remove any sand or grit. Drain excess water. Discard any clams that are already open.

Step 2

Add butter to the bottom of a large pot with a fitted lid; add clams. Place pot over medium-high heat. Cook, covered, until the clams have opened (pretty wide, like they’re stretching and yawning), 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 3

Using a spider, slotted spoon or tongs, add the clams to a large serving bowl. Divide the broth that remains at the bottom of the pot (liquid gold) into a few smaller bowls for dipping clam bodies. Set the clams and broth on the table next to a bowl for shells.

Cook Notes

Note: This recipe works well with unsalted butter, too – use what you have and don’t sweat it either way. Littlenecks are naturally briny and saline.