Steamed Clams with Italian Sausage

Steamed clams are fantastic for sharing as an appetizer. Serve with some crusty bread to dunk in the broth and scoop up the Italian sausage.

Steamed littleneck clams and sausage on a white plate, with glasses of white wine.

Steamed clams is one of my favorite appetizers to share with others. If they’re on a restaurant menu, I’m ordering them! And if no one at the table wants to share them with me, I’m more than happy to enjoy the clams as my main meal, often with a green salad on the side. The dose of greens balances out the copious amounts of bread I dip into the broth.

If you’ve never made steamed clams at home, you’ll be shocked at how easy it is. Each time I make them, I wonder why I don’t pull out this recipe on a weekly basis.

While I adore the taste of steamed clams, it’s the broth, a combination of white wine and the juices from the clams, that is the real star of the show. The best way to enjoy it is by dunking toasted pieces of baguette into the broth, scooping up pieces of Italian sausage and red bell pepper with each bite. That being said, I have been known to slurp up the broth with a spoon if there is no bread in sight.

Ingredients this steamed clams recipe

  • CLAMS: You’ll need a couple of pounds of littleneck clams, sometimes called steamer clams. As your fishmonger to avoid clams that are cracked or have already opened.
  • SAUSAGE: Any type of Italian, either sweet or spicy, will do. I prefer spicy chicken Italian sausage. It lends a bit of “zip” to the recipe, but boasts a lower fat content.
  • WINE: Use a dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
  • VEGETABLES: Shallots and red bell pepper add a good base of flavor to the steaming liquid.
  • OLIVE OIL: Use a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for sautéing the vegetables.
  • GARNISH: Garnish the dish with minced flat-leaf parsley. Thinly sliced green onions are a good substitute.

See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.

Cooked Italian sausage, red pepper and wine in a large orange Dutch oven.

How to steam clams

SOAK THE CLAMS: Before steaming clams, it’s a good idea to soak them in cold water for 30 to 60 minutes to allow the clams to spit out any sand.

RINSE AND PICK THROUGH: Rinse the clams well and discard any that are cracked or open. If there is an open clam, try tapping it on the counter. If it closes, it’s okay to use. Otherwise, pitch it in the garbage.

COOK THE EXTRAS: Cook any aromatics in a saucepan. In this recipe, that’s sausage, red bell pepper and shallots.

ADD THE LIQUID: Add about ¾ cup of liquid (for 2 pounds of clams) to the saucepan and bring to a boil. White wine imparts fantastic flavor in this recipe!

COOK THE CLAMS: Place the clams in the saucepan, cover and allow to steam for 7 or 8 minutes. Discard any clams that don’t open.

SERVE: Serve the clams with any accumulated liquid. It’s fantastic for dipping in pieces of toasted baguette!

What to serve with steamed clams

As an appetizer

If you’re steaming clams as an appetizer, serve it with a pieces of baguette. I like to toast the baguette pieces in the oven (350 degrees F) for about 5 minutes. To really elevate the bread, brush it with olive oil and rub it with garlic first.

As a main course

If you’re serving clams as a main dish, pair them with a salad, such as Strawberry Arugula Salad or Warm Kale Salad with Caramelized Onions.

Or turn them into an amazing clam pasta. Cook your favorite pasta, then toss with the clams, sausage, peppers and the cooking liquid. My favorite type of pasta with clams is something long, such as bucatini, fettucine or spaghetti.

Steamed clams, sausage and red pepper in a white bowl, with glasses of wine in background.

How to eat steamed clams

Three things you need to serve clams: Forks, an empty bowl and crusty bread.

Scoop the clams out of the shells with a fork and enjoy. Empty shells can be discarded into the empty bowl while you enjoy the rest of the clams.

And the best part? Well, it’s my favorite anyways. Once the clams are finished, dip pieces of crusty bread (I like to toast mine a little) into the broth and enjoy the delicious flavors!

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long to steam clams?

Clams take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to steam. The telltale sign that they’re done? The clams should be open wide after steaming. Discard any clams that didn’t open.

Can this recipe be made ahead of time?

The clams should not be steamed ahead of time. They are best – and safest to eat – when served immediately after cooking.

However, if you like to work ahead, cook the Italian sausage. Once cooled, refrigerate it in an airtight container. In addition, chop the shallots and red bell pepper so that they’re ready to go once you’re ready to steam the clams.

Is this recipe spicy?

The only spice is from the Italian sausage. If you prefer a recipe with very little spice, use sweet Italian sausage instead of the spicy version.

If you prefer more spice, or can’t find spicy Italian chicken sausage, add a dash of red pepper flakes to the shallots and red bell pepper.

Other healthy seafood recipes

Steamed clams, sausage and red pepper in a white bowl.

Steamed Clams with Italian Sausage

Steamed clams are fantastic for sharing as an appetizer. Serve with some toasted baguette pieces to dunk in the broth and scoop up the Italian sausage.