Maine Clams 201: How to Cook & Eat Maine Steamer Clams - Pine Tree Seafood

Maine Clams 201: How to Cook & Eat Maine Steamer Clams

Maine Clams 201: How to Cook & Eat Maine Steamer Clams

If you’re looking for a delicious seafood dish to make this weekend, why not try steamer clams? Maine steamer clams are mildly flavored and easy to cook, making them perfect for amateur chefs. 

In this post, we’ll teach you how to prepare steamer clams for cooking and provide some tips on how to eat them. Put on your chef’s hat and enjoy some fresh Maine clams!


Steamer clams are one of the most delectable dishes that you can find in New England. These clams are steamed to perfection, and served with their steaming broth and a generous helping of warm butter for dipping. 

Eating steamer clams can be a messy affair, but it’s always worth it for the rich, savory flavors that you can’t get anywhere else. Whether you enjoy steamer clams on their own or alongside some fresh crusty bread, there is no denying the joy of digging into a heaping bowl of this succulent seafood. 


Steamers are a type of clam commonly found in sand and mudflats. Since they are often harvested from these areas, it’s not uncommon for them to have some sand and grit on their shells. 

Before cooking steamer clams, purging them of this sand and grit is important. This can be done by soaking the clams in a saltwater solution for about an hour. (Some cooks also add a tablespoon of cornmeal to the saltwater mixture.) 

This process helps to break down any debris stuck to the clams’ shells. After purging, cook the clams as desired. They can be steamed, boiled, or baked. (But, of course, we love them steamed!)


We get it; cooking steamers for the first time can be intimidating. So here’s a cheat sheet for cooking delicious steamer clams at home.

What makes cooking clams such a challenge? 

There’s no definitive or recommended cooking time.

This is due to the variety of factors involved in cooking mollusks, such as size and quantity, as well as the type of cookware being used. However, some critical tips for cooking steamer clams can help ensure success.

How to tell when clams are done cooking?

One crucial thing to keep in mind is to cook clams just until the shells pop open wide, which is generally the best way to tell when clams are done cooking. 

In general, this can take close to 10 minutes.

Use a small amount of liquid

Additionally, it’s essential to avoid boiling mollusks by keeping liquid at a minimum when steaming them. We recommend adding approximately 1 inch of water to a tall pot with a tight fitting lid.

Try some flavor

You don’t just have to use water to cook clams. Add a little flavor by including your favorite beer or wine, along with any seasoning and butter you desire. Lemon juice is also a great flavorful additive. 

Allow your liquid to boil

Once the liquid begins to boil, you will carefully add the clams.

Cover and steam

Cover your pot with a lid and turn the heat down to ensure that the clams are steamed and not boiled.

Wait until the shells open

When the shells begin to open wide, you know they are ready to be taken out of the pot. (Any shell that did not open needs to be discarded.)


Steamers are a deliciously indulgent treat best enjoyed during the summer months. Served steamed in a bucket with hot broth and melted butter, these tender clams are something everyone should experience at least once.

To enjoy your steamers, first, you need to know how to peel them out of their shells properly. Using only your fingers, carefully peel back the skin covering the siphon (the protruding foot-like appendage that clams use to eat), then pop the flesh out of its shell. 

Next, grab the siphon with your fingers and gently dip it in the hot broth to warm up the clam while washing away any sand or grit. Finally, dip in warm butter, take a bite of the tasty clam and savor its rich flavor and satisfying texture. 

You can choose to eat or skip the siphon (though it can be a bit rubbery). As a built-in clam holder, it makes the need for utensils unnecessary!

With these simple tips for eating steamers, you can look forward to filling your belly with this seasonal favorite all summer long!

Whether you enjoy steamer clams in New England or another coastal region, there’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into these tender morsels of sea goodness. Go ahead and dig into a steaming bowl of steamer clams — you won’t regret it!

Ready to enjoy some steamers for yourself? Order today or come into our Scarborough, Maine location to purchase fresh caught Maine steamer clams.