• Alex Griggs

Fried Clams (the Right Way)

Updated: May 24

The first, last, and only recipe you'll ever need for trussing up these tasty mollusks to serve as your go-to summertime appetizer.

tattooed man holding a tray of fried clams
Deep fried clams, bellies and all

The only thing New Englanders take more seriously than sports is #seafood. There's something so grounding about going into nature, foraging for food, and cooking it fresh. There's a stronger sense of pride. You've done the work and you've earned the meal. If you have access to wild clams, I highly suggest you try and farm them yourself. If you can't splash around in a salty bay like a wild person, this recipe will still produce some kick ass fried store-bought clams. Welcome to the right way to make #friedclams.

blue bucket full of fresh clams
If you are going to catch your own clams, don't forget your license
Serves: 5-6 for an appetizer (2-3 if a meal) Total calories: with this recipe, who cares?


  • Any number of clams, we usually do 3 dozen

  • large bucket

  • ice water

  • 2 1/4 cup corn meal

  • 1 cup sea salt

I believe I can fry:

  • 1 Tbsp black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder

  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • dash cayenne

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 cup flour (we use gluten free for my stomach issues, otherwise all-purpose is fine)

  • 3/4 cup corn meal

  • 3 eggs (1 egg per dozen clams)

  • 2% or whole milk

  • 1 quart peanut oil (canola if you have allergies)

Make your own cocktail sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 4 Tbsp horseradish

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Or tarter sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 3 Tbsp sweet relish

  • salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste


Clams come out of the mud in the ocean and they don't come clean, especially if you get them yourself. So you'll need to clear out all that gunk before you can eat. #dirtyjobs

  1. Place your clams in a 5 gallon bucket, stacked flat on top of each other, and cover with ice cold water with a 1/2 inch of clearance above the last line of clams

  2. Add half the salt and corn meal to the bucket and mix

  3. Place bucket with clams and mixture in a cool, dark area, covered, for 2 hours

  4. Dump out water mixture, rise the clams and repeat steps 1-3

  5. Heat grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place freshly rinsed clams evenly spaced and flat on the grill and close lid

  6. Wait 5 minutes before removing the clams that have opened up with tongs and place them back into your bucket

  7. Once all clams have been grilled into relaxing and opening up, fill the bucket with ice cold water again until they are all cool to the touch

  8. Remove meat using a clam, oyster, or butter knife by holding clams flat in one palm and scooping the meat out with the knife (don't worry about any tearing that might occur, it's all going to be delicious)

  9. With a pairing knife, locate the green color on the side of the clam belly, slice open, and squeeze all the green color out under cool running tap water then set aside

  10. In two shallow bowls, prep your wet and dry frying ingredients

  11. Mix milk, eggs, juice of half a lemon together and pour into one of the shallow bowls, adding more milk if the mixture is looking too "eggy" - you're aiming for a light yellow color

  12. In the other bowl, integrate flour and corn meal with your spices

  13. Using one hand for wet and one hand for dry, dip clam meat into the egg mixture before rolling in the dry spices (if you don't keep your hands assigned to separate bowls, everything will become a goopy, battered mess)

  14. Heat peanut oil in large pot (at least 10") until bubbles form around the bottom edge when you can test the oil by dropping in a bit of batter to see if it pops and sizzles

  15. Cook clams for 2-3 minutes or until a light golden color spreads evenly across the batter and they look crunchy

  16. Place fried clams on a large plate covered with paper towels and wait until they cool

  17. Mix together ingredients for either cocktail sauce or tarter sauce for your dipping pleasure (or eat them without because they are that good) and enjoy!

two children and adult cooking clams over a camping stove
Meet Dry Hand, Wet Hand, and Clam Chef

There you have it. Our definitive recipe for the best fried clams you'll ever taste. It's quite a lot of work, from harvesting the clams all the way to frying them, but it's such a wonderful activity for those long #summer evenings filled with friends or family.

Thanks for reading and see you out on the road!

Want to see more of our adventures? Follow us on Instagram @theadventuringgriggs

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