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Cyndi Allison - Grill Girl

Fresh Clams on the Grill

Fresh Clams
Fresh Clams to Grill

The boys had a grand time clamming when we took a summer vacation to Cedar Island, North Carolina (on the outer banks). Gathering clams was really simple. The boys simply went out in the water and felt around with their toes. When they felt a shell, they’d dip under and pull up a clam. By the time they were done, we had a whole mess of clams.

I, of course, fired up the grill to steam grill the bounty. Grilling seafood is super easy and super quick. I’m surprised more folks don’t do seafood on the grill. I think, perhaps, a lot of people just don’t know exactly how to do seafood.
Here is a simple way to make grill steamed clams:

Clams on the Grill

  • A mess of clams (3 dozen or so)
  • ¼ pound of cornmeal
  • 1 TBS lemon juice (fresh squeezed or in the squirt bottle)
  • ½ tsp seasoning salt
  • ½ cup melted butter or margarine


Put the clams in a large baking dish or large pan that is not too deep. A bucket is also fine.

Add cold water to cover clams in the pan and sprinkle with cornmeal. The cornmeal gets absorbed into the clams and washes out the sand and grit. This is less of an issue with clams dug up by hand. They are less likely to open up and get sand if they're gathered one by one like my boys enjoy.

Let clams sit in the water for around 4 hours. Hand gathered clams are usually fine with less time - like a half hour or hour.

Pour water off clams and wash well. You can use a hose and run water over them or put them in the sink and run water.

Place clams directly on the grill gates over hot coals or high heat and let steam for around 10 minutes or until the shells pop open. To speed things up, you can place a wet dishcloth or burlap over the clams. Just be sure to watch close. If the material dries out, the cloth could scorch or even catch on fire.

While the clams are steaming, melt the butter and add seasoning salt and lemon juice.

Serve the clams around to everyone and put the bowl of lemon butter on the table to dip over the fresh steamed clams.

That’s all it takes to roast clams on a grill. As I mentioned, it’s very easy. It’s fun. The grilled clams are delicious too.

After we enjoyed grilled clams, I made a Southern Clam Chowder. It doesn't taste as clam-y as most clam chowders, because the boys weren't all that keen on the taste of clams.


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