July 08, 2019



To fully appreciate the New England experience, you need to experience clam cakes. These clam filled fried puffs, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, are quintessential New England and a must try.

When you're craving fried food, these Smoked Bacon Hush Puppies and Shrimp Wonton Chips are going to hit the spot!

Clam Shack Clam Cakes
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This clam cake recipe was one of my oldest posts on the blog. It was published on December 27, 2013. They are so good that I think they are worthy of a repost. I have updated the content and pictures since the original publication. 

These nuggets of yumminess are dear to my heart has they are my recreation of a childhood family favorite. I lived in Massachusetts most of my life. Growing up, my family used to frequent this hole-in-the wall clam shack on one of the beaches of Cape Cod. The clams cakes were always fluffy, full of clams, crispy on the outside, and piping hot.

I played around with numerous variations and declared success when I created the recipe you see below. It has all the boxes checked: deep golden brown color, crispy exterior, tender interior, and slightly chewy chopped clams.

Clam Shack Clam Cakes

My secret ingredient for making these awesome clam cakes is instant nonfat dry milk. Although there is only a small amount used, it is an essential ingredient. Omitting is not recommended. It serves several purposes: to help keep the dough tender; to provide color (browning); and to a lesser extend in this recipe, add flavor.

Why not just use regular milk? I like to fully maximize the flavor of clams and therefore use clam juice exclusively for the liquid component. Adding regular milk would dilute the flavor of the clam juice. With that being said, if you don't want to use powdered milk, swap out 1/4 cup of the clam juice for regular milk.

Recipe Highlights:
  • Preheat oil in a skillet to 360° F.
  • Drain canned clams. Reserve liquid. Add 3/4 cup clam juice.
  • In a bowl combine: flour, cornmeal, non-fat dried milk, baking soda, Old Bay Seasoning, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  • Stir in clam and clam juice.
  • Drop by tablespoonful into hot oil.
  • Fry until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.
  • Drain on paper towels.

How To Produce Tender Clam Cakes?
Do not overmix the dough. It creates gluten which results in a dense, tough end product. Mix the batter until everything is just combined. As mentioned above, powdered milk also enhances tenderness.

How to Keep The Clam Cakes Crispy?
Once fried, drain on layers of paper towels or a cooling rack. Do not place directly of a flat cold surface. This will promote condensation at the point of contact and creates sogginess. For maximum crispiness, the clam cakes are best eaten immediately. They will lose crispiness once stored. To restore crispiness, a quick refry will provide the best result. Reheating for a few minutes in the oven will also bring back some crispiness.

How To Serve?
Many New Englanders like to dip or drizzle the clam cakes with malt vinegar. Tartar sauce is also delicious condiment. If you’re a hot and spicy fan, hot sauce is also an option. As for me, I think these clam cakes are perfect plain!

Clam Shack Clam Cakes

Summertime means seafood time! There is plenty of it to be found here in New England. You can also find clam cakes at many seafood establishments along the coast. If you are a seafood fan, I hope you whip yourself up a batch of these tasty clam cakes!

Making that batter is super quick and easy and requires only one bowl. Fry time? I think you will like that too. This recipe yields 12. At about 4 minutes per batch, they take very little time to cook!


Clam Shack Clam Cakes


2 (6.5 oz.) cans chopped clam  
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
5 tsp. non fat dried milk
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 rounded tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 rounded tsp. sugar
Oil for frying


Preheat oil in a deep fryer or skillet to 360 degrees F.

Drain clams, reserving liquid. Add 3/4 cup of clam juice to dry. Set aside

Whisk together the remaining eight ingredients. Blend in clams and clam juice until just combined. The batter should the consistency of thick pancake batter. Add more clam juice, one tablespoon at a time, if the batter is dry.
Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop batter into hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, turning halfway through. Do not crowd pan. Drain on paper towels. Yields 12-14 clam cakes.

Recipe Notes:

  1. If there isn't enough clam juice once drained, use milk to make up the difference or bottled clam juice if available.
  2. If you don't have dry milk, swap out 1/4 cup of the clam juice for 1/4 cup of regular milk.

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  1. The soup Nazi, hahah! I love Seinfeld! And I love these clam cakes. They look awesome - I want to bite into one immediately!

    1. There were many classic moments on that show!😀 I wish I could share some of these with you right now!

  2. My hubby grew up in Maine and he LOVES clam cakes. I need to make your recipe for him :)

    1. Great! I hope he likes them!! Clam cakes are one of those loves that you never forget😄

  3. These look amazing.. I could def eat a few

  4. Wow! They look so good! I have never had clams or anything made with clams, unfortunatelly, I would love to try this. I used to watch Seinfeld too, a long time ago, it was so funny. :)

    1. Seinfeld was always good for a few laughs! One of the best things about clam cakes is that if you have access to canned clams, you can make them anytime. I hope you'll get a chance to try them some day!

  5. Thao, these clam cakes are such a treat! They look so perfect with their crispy golden outsides and their light fluffy insides. I can't wait to try them!

    1. They are just that, Kelly! My family loves them. If you like clams, I think you will like these!!

  6. These look like THE most fun summer recipe! I love the flavor of clams!

    1. Thanks Inger!! You will like these if you like clams! :)