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All you need to know about Quahogs - also known as Littlenecks - and how to steam them to perfection!

If you are looking for a delicious seafood appetizer featuring clams, then these steamed Littlenecks are just the ticket!

While you may not be so familiar with the name Littleneck, you may have heard them referred to as Quahogs, Topnecks and Countnecks. Before we get to cooking, let’s talk a little about what Littlenecks are and other ways in which you can use them!

Clams and Fennel Photo

What are Littlenecks?

Littlenecks are small clams that are found in muddy and sandy areas of water in the Atlantic.

Whilst other varieties of clams are larger and have a tougher texture, these divine clams are perfect for grilling and steaming as they are plump and juicy.

On average, a pound of Littlenecks yields anywhere between 7-10 clams.

Clams and Fennel Picture


Preparing your Littlenecks

It is always a good idea to chill raw clams for a few hours before trying to open them as it actually makes the job easier. This is because the muscle that typically holds the clam shut relaxes when chilled.

When preparing clams there are a few points you should note.

Always discard any clams that have broken shells or do not open when tapped; this is because the clam inside will be dead and should not be consumed.

Always scrub the shells clean and soak them in very salty water for a minimum of 20 mins to allow for any grit or sand to filter out. Afterwards, soak them in cold, unsalted water for about 10 minutes to remove excess salt they had absorbed during the first soaking process. 

Learn more about how to clean clams.

Clam Bake Image


Cooking clams

Clams can be eaten raw, but they are typically steamed. Other interesting ways to cook clams include pickling them or smoking them!

If you are cooking clams, the shells will pop open once they are done. Overcooking clams is very easy to do and, unfortunately, can turn them very rubbery. It's important to remember that they only need a few minutes before they are ready.

New England Clam Chowder Pic

Never tried clams before?

Clams are a great introduction to seafood if seafood has not been a regular part of your diet up to now. 

It can be difficult to tell them apart from scallops and oysters, although - interestingly - they are all technically clams! Oysters and scallops are simply saltwater versions of clams.

Many people describe oysters as having a briny taste, whereas scallops are more buttery. A notable difference between oysters and clams is that oysters produce pearls, whereas a clam cannot, so keep your eyes peeled if you are ever enjoying oysters! 

As clams are a wonderful accompaniment to other seafood dishes, try serving this dish prior to a seafood entree. It's so simple to make and only requires about 10 minutes of your time! 

More recipes with clams

Spicy Clams and Fennel

Clam Bake

New England Clam Chowder


    10 Servings


  • 100 medium Littleneck Clams, (3 to 4 lbs), rinsed and scrubbed
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups Your Favorite Beer, or use water


  1. In a large stockpot add all of the ingredients and bring them to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Cover and steam for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir gently to help the clams open up. Remove any clams that have not opened. 
  3. Divide between bowls and be sure to ladle some of the juice over the clams. 
Source: Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart
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Related Recipes:
Clam Recipes, Seafood Recipes, Shellfish Recipes, Appetizer Recipes
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Author: The Editors at Food Fanatic
Source: Martha Stewart
Recipe Yields: 10
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 10

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 26
Calories 131

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g
  Saturated Fat 2g
Sodium 1mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
  Dietary Fiber 0g
  Sugars 0g
Protein 10g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.