Recipe: New England Clambake

By Susan Wiles 10.5.23

Feel free to steal this tradition from the Northeast since our summers last longer, and hold on to the last of the warmer weather with this festive tradition. The history of the clambake goes back as far as 2,000 years ago when Native Americans would dig pits in the sand and cook vast quantities of shellfish. Today, clambakes are a Northeastern summer rite of passage, whether they occur in a pit in the sand over a fire or at one of the many seafood shanties and restaurants that dot the shoreline from Connecticut to Maine. 

Fortunately for land-locked Texans, we can recreate this tradition at home, no beach required! For a recipe that ticks every box with plenty of shellfish, sausage, and potatoes — all cooked in one big pot on the stove — Ina Garten’s New England clambake recipe is a delicious way to keep the taste of summer going into the fall. It is a festive meal to serve at your next celebration, and it can easily be adjusted for a smaller gathering. 

Shop Fresh

Head to your local seafood market for the freshest clams, mussels, lobster, and shrimp, then a trip to the grocery store or local farmers market for staples like sausage, onions, and potatoes. Pull out your biggest lobster pot or stockpot and start cooking! (Ina Garten’s recipe calls for white wine, but briny salt water is a great substitute and will mimic the sea from which these crustacean creatures came!)


  • 1 1/2 lbs. kielbasa
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (white parts only)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. small potatoes (red or white)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 dozen steamer clams, scrubbed
  • 2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 1/2 lbs. large shrimp, in the shell
  • 3 (1 1/2 lbs.) lobster
  • 2 cups dry white wine (or briny salt water if substituting)


  • Slice sausage diagonally into 1-inch thick slices and set aside. Heat olive oil in 16-20 quart stockpot and sauté onions over medium heat for 15 minutes, until onions start to brown.
  • Layer ingredients on top of onions starting with potatoes, salt, and pepper. Then add sausage, littleneck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobster. Pour in the white wine (or briny salt water if using). Cover pot tightly and cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, until steam just begins to escape from lid.
  • Lower heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes when the clambake should be done. Ensure potatoes are tender, lobster is cooked, and clams and mussels are open. Discard any unopened shellfish; they are not fit for consumption.
  • Transfer lobster to a wooden board, de-shell, cut up the meat, and crack the claws.
  • With large slotted spoon, remove the seafood, potatoes, and sausage to a large bowl and top with lobster. Season the broth in the pot to taste, and ladle over the seafood, being careful to avoid any sediment at the bottom of the pot.

Make It Your Own

The addition of corn, sausage, and seasonings may be thought to be gilding the lily of freshly caught clams and lobster, but they all add up to a flavorful and festive feast.  

  • Chorizo: Include this spicy sausage for a smokier finish.
  • Corn on the cob: Add a little bulk with fresh, end-of-summer corn.
  • Lemon: For a zing that sings, squeeze fresh lemon over your plate when serving.
  • Herbs: Some recipes call to layer thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, and/or oregano to create an herbal essence in the steam that cooks the seafood.
  • Season: If you like some spice, add cayenne or crushed red pepper to the broth.

Round out your end-of-summer celebration with a strawberry rhubarb crumble that is a delightful combination of sweet, ripe berries and tart, earthy rhubarb.

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