For most people, the mention of a traditional New England clambake conjures quintessential images of a coastal summer with an empty beach, rolling waves, a smoky fire, and an abundance of fresh lobsters and clams.
Fortunately, you don’t need to live near the beach to experience those great flavors when you follow our guidelines for preparing a clambake on top of the stove. It’s easy to do, surprisingly quick and a great casual meal to enjoy with friends.
How to Make a Stovetop Clambake
Our stovetop clambake includes all the elements of a classic seaside version; mussels, clams, smoked sausage, potatoes, and fresh corn, and it only takes 30 minutes to cook.
Read on to find a quick overview of how to prepare a clambake properly. The details on ingredient quantities and the simple, step-by-step instructions you need to cook all this delicious seafood to perfection can be found in the printable recipe below.
Ingredients You’ll Need
This recipe below serves six people but you can easily adjust it to fit your guest list. Here is the per-person quantity of food that you’ll need.
- Live lobsters (1-1/4 lbs) – 1 per person
- Mussels – 1/2 lb per person
- Littleneck clams – 1 lb per person
- Fresh corn – 1 ear per person
- Red potatoes – 1/4 lb per person
- Smoked sausage – 2 to 3 ounces per person
- Butter – 3 tablespoons per person
- Lemons – 1/2 per person
Equipment You’ll Need
- One or two large stockpots with tight-fitting lids
- Nut crackers
- Seafood picks and seafood forks
- Small dipping bowls for melted butter
Prepare the Ingredients
To begin preparing your clambake:
- Remove the husks from the corn
- Cut the potatoes into chunks and par-cook them for 5 minutes
- Cut the smoked sausage into rounds
- Rinse the clams
- Rinse the mussels and trim away any “beards”
- Wrap and tie the mussels and clams in cheesecloth
Add the Seafood to the Stockpot
Next, layer the ingredients into the stockpot in the following order:
- Smoked sausage: Putting the sausage on the bottom of the pot helps to infuse all the other ingredients with a hint of smoky flavor.
- Mussels and clams: Mussels and clams will give off liquid that will steam the ingredients above them.
- Potatoes: Par cooking ensures will be tender when your seafood is finished cooking.
- Corn: Ears of corn serve as a shelf to rest the lobsters on.
- Lobsters: When the lobsters are done you can be sure everything else is properly cooked.
Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until the lobsters turn bright red and you’re ready to serve.
What to Drink With Your Clambake
Our favorite wine to serve with this meal is a dry Rosé, but other good choices include food-friendly whites like Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
If you prefer beer, go with a summer shandy, your favorite summer ale, or an all-around classic like Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
- 6 lobsters, 1 to 1-1/4 lbs each
- 3 lbs mussels
- 6 lbs littleneck clams
- 6 ears fresh corn, husked
- 1-1/2 lbs red potatoes
- 1 lb smoked sausage
- 1/2 lb butter
- 3 lemons, cut into wedges
- 1 or 2 large stockpots with tight-fitting lids
- 6 Nutcrackers
- 6 Seafood picks
- 6 Seafood forks
- Scrub the potatoes and depending on their size, either halve or quarter them to make 1-1/2-inch chunks.
- Place them in one of the stock pots and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt, bring the water to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Slice the sausage into 3/8-inch thick rounds and scatter in the bottom of the stockpots.
- Rinse the mussels under cool running water and trim any "beards" with a sharp knife. Rinse and inspect the clams in the same manner.
- Lay out 2 large squares of cheesecloth and divide a combination of mussels and clams between them. Gather up the ends of the cheesecloth and tie to form a loose-fitting "bag."
- Lay the "bags" on top of the sausage rounds, then scatter the potatoes on top. Add the corn next, then lay the lobsters on top.
- Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lobsters turn bright red. Note: It is not necessary to add water.
- While the seafood cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan and keep warm.
- To serve, transfer the seafood and corn to a large platter and the sausage and potatoes to a bowl.
- Set out the lemon wedges, and pour the butter into individual ramekins for dipping. Enjoy!