Rhode Island Stuffed Clams

4.86 from 7 votes
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Stuffed clams is what this recipe is called officially, but in our household, they’ve been known as “clam things” for at least two generations.

Four stuffed clams on a platter.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

My mom named them that, and even had pretty green ceramic clam shell bowls strictly for the purpose of making clam things. I didn’t even know that she was making a variant of Rhode Island “stuffies” until I saw it on a menu in Rhode Island when I was a twentysomething.

What are stuffies? Basically chopped clams, usually but not always quahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria), mixed with breadcrumbs or crushed crackers, with sautéed onion, celery and green pepper, sometimes bits of bacon, and often hot sauce and/or Worcestershire.

You stuff the mixture into large, clean clam shells, ramekins, or, if you happen to have the clam shell bowls, those would do nicely.

The main difference between stuffed clams and the better-known clams casino is that stuffed clams are generally made with larger clams that are ground or chopped. Clams casino is normally made with smaller, bite-sized clams like littlenecks.

Mom’s recipe demands a particular ingredient I would never have in the house otherwise: Ritz crackers. Sure, you could use breadcrumbs, but it’s just not the same. I buy the packages of Ritz that have several small sleeves of crackers, because, well, I never eat them as-is, and want them to be fresh for the next batch of stuffed clams.

Mom also uses butter, lots of it. But another perfectly good option is to fry some bacon, chop it up and add it to the mix, and use the bacon fat instead.

I do deviate in one place from Mom’s recipe: I roast my green peppers where she does not. I also prefer to roast Anaheim or poblanos instead of regular green peppers. You can do either.

Well, to be perfectly honest, I deviate from Mom’s clam things in another way: I use the clams available to me, which are horseneck or butter clams, which are also called Washington clams. They are large, open-shelled clams of the Pacific Coast I dig every year.

Any clam will work for stuffed clams, though. My preference would be ground sea clams, butter clams, horseneck clams or a big chowder-sized quahog. Stuffed clams doesn’t need pretty little topnecks or Manila clams.

If you have those, you’ll want to make New England fried clams, or Spanish clams and chorizo. If you really want to do a New England clam feast, my mom’s Maine clam chowder will do well as the soup course. 

And yes, you can make stuffed clams with canned clams, but I don’t.

Close up of Rhode Island stuffed clams in their shells.
4.86 from 7 votes

Stuffed Clams

These are baked, stuffed clams served either in their shell or a ramekin. It's a fantastic appetizer or starter for a seafood feast.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 Anaheim, poblano or green bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (You'll need 3 tablespoons melted)
  • 1 1/2 cups minced yellow or white onion
  • 1 1/2 cups minced celery
  • Salt
  • 3 cups chopped or ground clams, or 3 cans of clams
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 sleeve crushed Ritz crackers (or Saltines), or 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Once you have your green peppers ready and your clams ground or chopped, preheat your oven to 350°F. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and sauté the onion and celery until softened and translucent, but not browned. Salt them as they cook.
  • Remove the vegetables to a bowl to cool. When they are cooled, mix well with the clams, the chopped green pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire, cheese and half of the crushed Ritz crackers. Stir in enough of the clam juices to make a thick paste.
  • Stuff the mixture into clam shells or ramekins or small, oven-proof bowls. Top with the remaining crushed crackers and drizzle the remaining butter over them. Grind black pepper over them.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes. I like to put the clam shells on a baking sheet so I can take them all out at once. Serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

You can make these either with large clams with the meat chopped, or as individual clams if you use small clams like cherrystones. If you do that, no need to chop the clams. 

Nutrition

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 227mg | Potassium: 132mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 478IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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18 Comments

  1. I am going to make your stuffed clams, but I was wondering, have you ever made them with whole baby clams from a can.

  2. This looks delicious! We’re planning a vacation on Block Island and my husband has his clamming license ready to go. Can’t wait to try your recipe. You listed hot sauce and worcester sauce to taste. What would you recommend starting with – I don’t want to overdo it! Thanks

  3. There’s just something about they way they do things in Rhode Island! I highly recommend trying clam cakes!

  4. Dear Hank, So is your mother from Rhode Island? And, would you ever consider coming here to give a presentation?? There are quite a few gatherers, hunters, gardeners, and cooks in RI who I think would be really thrilled to hear you speak. If so, let me know and I can see who I can contact to organize a venue for you – it is Rhode Island after all, and everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows someone, who knows someone…Seriously though, please consider our state as a destination for an upcoming tour. And thank you, for all of your great recipes and ideas!

    1. Hope: My mother is from Ipswich, Massachusetts. I’ve been to Little Rhody before for events and had a good time! I am not doing any public events in 2019, however. Maybe when my next book comes out, though!

  5. Hank, thanks for a trip down memory lane. I spent my pre-teen summers on the beaches off Galilee, RI watching/helping my mother dig large sea clams to make chowder. She didn’t tackle
    “Stuffies” very often, we usually got them out to eat. Will definitely give this one a go. Love your stuff, keep it coming!

  6. I have been trying to find ceramic clam shell bowls for baked clams for a long time, to no avail. Quahogs are just not common in the stores.

  7. As A Rhode Islander I add Chourico and Portuguese fresh red pepper and instead of ritz I prefer Portuguese rolls, but so gd.

    1. Frank: I really do love the addition of chourico, but it’s not my mom’s recipe. Next time!

  8. have not tried your recipe, but just see the stuffed clams brought back a flood of memories. I grew up in Connecticut and my mom made these every year around the holidays. Will give your recipe a try in the near future. Thanks!!!

  9. In our household, they were called “crispy clams,” one of my son’s favorite things. We’ve also swapped in shrimp and even mushrooms, but they are always prepared in clamshells, regardless of the stuffing. I’ve never had them with Ritz crackers for the crumbs, must try!

  10. Yes, Hank these are yummy and the only recipe that calls for clams that I will eat. Maybe that is why I called them “clam things”. Don’t really remember though.
    Love,
    Mum

  11. so delicious I will definitely make again and they will be front and center at parties