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If you can’t find your way to a beach this summer, you can make the beach come to you with this sheet pan clam bake, loaded with fresh shrimp, littleneck clams, potatoes, chorizo, and corn. Even better, it all bakes up in one pan for minimal cleanup. Spread a blanket out in the backyard—it’s time for a clam bake!
Clam bakes at the beach have been around for generations. They’ve been cooked in garbage cans, paint cans, you name it! This recipe is festive and easy to transport to any party—just wrap up the sheet pan and go. Pop it in the oven when you arrive. The best part of all? No sand in your dinner.
What is a clam bake?
Traditionally, a clambake is an outdoor gathering where clams, shrimp, and other seafood are baked in a pit, over heated stones and topped with seaweed. Sometimes chicken, corn and potatoes are added, too. This version skips the seaweed, but by all means, if you have it….add it!
Do shrimp need to be peeled for a clambake?
If you have shrimp in the shell, go ahead and throw them in. A little peel never hurt anybody.
What else can you add to a clambake?
As you may imagine, a clam bake leaves a lot of room for improvisation. If you have access to regional shellfish, or even if the fish market has something extra special (I’m looking at you, lobster!) add that to the sheet pan. Feel free to add crabs, prawns, white wine, a cut up bulb of fennel—this is your party, after all!
What can be used in place of Old Bay?
Truthfully, Old Bay seasoning is such a classic blend of so many things, that there isn’t any one thing that can be substituted for it. Making your own gets pretty involved, too, so I’d recommend hunting down the Old Bay. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find at grocery stores.
What is dried chorizo?
Unlike Mexican fresh chorizo, dried chorizo is a delicious, intensely seasoned, harder Spanish pork sausage. Dried chorizo is flavored with smoked paprika, garlic, and salt and comes in sweet and spicy varieties, which can be sliced and eaten right out of the package. This one is my favorite brand.
What can you use in place of dried chorizo?
In case you’d like to use a different kind of sausage, substitute kielbasa, andouille sausage, or any spicy smoked sausage in place of dried chorizo.
What are the best clams for a clambake?
My favorite clams are littlenecks, but pasta necks or really any fresh clam that you can find will do splendidly.
How do you store clams?
When you buy shellfish, they will sometimes be packaged in a plastic bag. Raw clams must be kept alive before cooking, so keep the top of the bag open while you’re transporting them so they can breathe. When you get home, move them into an open container. Then, place them in a colander set over a shallow dish, cover with a damp towel, and store in the coldest part of your refridgerator. Do not store the clams in water or in ice. Right before cooking scrub the shells under cold water to remove any debris.
How long do raw clams last in the fridge?
After you buy the clams, they can be refrigerated for 1-2 days.
How do I know if clams are okay to eat?
First, you should smell them. If they smell fresh like the sea, they are good. If they are stinky, toss them. Get rid of any shellfish with broken or damaged shells.
Next, if you find some of your clams have opened, give them a little squeeze. If they try to close on their own, they are still alive. If they spring open, throw them away.
Finally, when cooking the clams, discard any shellfish that do not open on their own when they are cooked. Also, don’t eat the ones that don’t open!
What are the best side dishes for a clambake?
This recipe is sort of a one stop shop, but if you want to go all out, how about a big bowl of Cowboy Caviar, or Cornbread? No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake for dessert, and you have quite a party!
Sheet Pan Clam Bake
For the flavored butter:
- 1/4 cup butter melted and cooled
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the clam bake:
- 1 pound small red or yellow potatoes scrubbed
- 3 ears corn cut crosswise into 6 pieces
- 1 pound hot dried chorizo thinly sliced
- 1 pound mussels debearded and scrubbed
- 24 littleneck clams scrubbed
- 8 ounces large shrimp peeled and deveined (U19 per pound or larger)
- 1 red onion peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 lemons halved
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Crusty bread for serving
To make the flavored butter:
- In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, Old Bay seasoning and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the clam bake:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil for easy cleanup and coat with nonstick spray.
- In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add potatoes and cook until par-boiled and just tender, about 10 to 13 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, stir in corn. Remove from heat and drain well.
- On prepared baking sheet, combine potatoes, corn, chorizo, mussels, clams, shrimp, red onion, and lemons. Drizzle with butter mixture and toss until evenly coated. Press into a single layer.
- Bake until all mussels and clams have opened and shrimp are opaque, about 12 to 15 minutes. Squeeze lemon halves over baking sheet and garnish with chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.
So refreshing to find a cool sheet pan recipe using seafood. This was an instant hit at my wine club dinner. Easy cleanup, too!
I love this! I’ve never tried finishing off a low country boil on a sheet pan before but I like the idea of getting a little oven crispiness in with the boil. Definitely trying this one out!