How to Make Homemade Clam Fritters with Fresh Clams
Clam fritters may not be the healthiest food, at least not how I make them, but they are so good it makes cheating on a diet less shameful. I grew up on seafood and clam fritters were one of the first seafood recipes I learned. Today I’m sharing the best clam fritters with fresh clams.
What Are Clam Fritters?
Clam fritters are a seafood dish where minced or chopped clams are mixed into a batter, usually containing flour and eggs, then deep-fried until crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
Clam fritters can be served as an appetizer, snack, or even a main dish with some sides.
Clam Fritters With Fresh Clams
First, let’s start with the main ingredient: fresh clams.
Clam fritters taste best with fresh clams, not canned or frozen ones. The type of clam you use is up to you, but I prefer littleneck clams for their smaller size and sweeter taste.
Different Types Of Clams
Here are the most popular types of clams.
Littleneck Clams: small and sweet, great for fritters.
Cherrystone Clams: large with a slightly bolder taste, good for stuffing.
Quahog Clams: larger size, meatier taste.
Manila Clams: smaller size, firm texture.
Razor Clams: long and thin, briny taste.
Longneck Clams: larger and tougher, better for steaming.
Best Clam Fritters Recipe
It’s super easy to make homemade clam fritters, and there are a few secrets to getting them just right! I’ll share my tips for making clam fritters the best way!
Ingredients For Fresh Clam Fritters
Here are the ingredients needed to make clam fritters using fresh clams.
- 1 Pint of Shucked Clams (about 18 clams)
- ½ Cup Reserved Clam Juice
- 2 Teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¾ Cups Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Teaspoons Minced Onion
- 1 Teaspoon Old Bay
- 1⁄8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 4 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil (for frying)
How To Shuk A Clam
Here are my top tips for how to shuck clams:
The first secret to getting the clams open is a trick my grandmother taught me. It’s great for keeping the mess down too!
Just put the clams on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer for about an hour. Slip a knife through the slit and tap the end with a small hammer if it’s not popping open.
Once the clam is open you can use a spoon to scoop everything out. Since the clams are frozen there’s no juice to fly around everywhere, which is a major bonus.
How To Chop Clams
The second tip for a great clam fritter is chopping up the clams.
Doing this by hand is time-consuming so I like to use a manual food chopper. I found this manual food chopper on Amazon and it has been perfect for so many things. It chops clams perfectly and does a lot of other things too like mixing, slicing and shredding.
You just pull the handle repeatedly until you get the results you want. I LOVE it, and it’s super easy to use. You want minced clams, with as few large pieces as possible. This helps to distribute the flavor of your clam fritters evenly.
Making The Perfect Clam Fritter Batter
The final tip I have for the perfect homemade clam fritters is baking powder. It gives the fritters a beautiful puff that takes them from flat and floppy to fluffy and crisp.
How To Make Clam Fritters
Here are the step for making the best clam fritters:
Step One: Preheat Your Oil.
In a large skillet reheat your oil to 360°F
Step Two: Mix Flour And Seasonings
Mix the flour and seasonings together in a large bowl.
Step Three: Mix Fritter Batter
Add the reserved clam juice, minced onions and remaining ingredients and whisk together to form a batter.
Step Four: Fry Your Clam Fritters
Use a ladle to drop the batter into the hot oil like pancakes. Be sure to make sure that the clam fritters are not too big. Form patties about 2-3 inches in diameter.
Step Five: Cook Your Fresh Clam Fritters
Cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until golden brown on each side.
Step Six: Drain Clam Fritters
Remove the fritters to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil and repeat until you use up all of the batter.
Paper towels are better than a wire rack because they absorb more of the excess oil from the fritters.
Step Seven: Garnish and Serve Clam Fritters
Garnish with diced parsley and serve hot with tartar sauce or your favorite seafood dip.
Enjoy your homemade clam fritters!
Can I Add Other Ingredients To These Clam Fritters
The best part about making homemade clam fritters is that you can customize them with your favorite seasonings and toppings.
Try experimenting with adding herbs like dill or cilantro, or add some diced bell pepper for extra texture and flavor. You could add different seasonings such as garlic powder or onion powder to your dry ingredients to make the fritters.
Do I Have To Use Vegetable Oil?
You can use any type of oil that has a high smoke point for frying the fritters. Some alternatives include canola oil or peanut oil. Experiment with different oils to find your favorite flavor and texture in your clam fritters.
Minced V’s Chopped Clams
When making Clam fritters, some people prefer using minced clams while others prefer chopped clams. It really just comes down to personal preference.
Minced clams will have a smoother texture, while chopped clams will give your fritters more of a bite. Feel free to mix it up and try both versions!
Can I Bake Clam Fritters Instead Of Frying Them
While frying these clam fritters will give them a crisp outer layer, you can definitely bake them as well.
Simply preheat your oven to 350°F and place the formed fritter patties on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
What To Serve With Clam Fritters
These clam fritters pair well with dipping sauce or sides.
Try serving them with tartar sauce, hot sauce, cocktail sauce, vinegar-based coleslaw, lime juice, or even lemon wedges for squeezing lemon juice over the top.
You could also serve your clam patties with a side salad, Macaroni salad, or potato salad. These fritters make a great addition to any seafood feast or as an appetizer at a party.
Homemade Fresh Clam Fritters
- 1 pint of shucked clams (about 18 clams)
- 1/2 cup reserved clam juice
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons minced onion
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay
- 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tbsp. vegetable oil (for frying)
Preheat your oil to 360°F
Mix flour and seasonings together in a large bowl
Add remaining ingredients and whisk together to form a batter
Use a ladle to drop the batter into the pan (carefully, the oil is hot!) like pancakes, being sure that they're not too big
Cook for 3 - 4 minutes (or until golden brown) on each side
Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil and repeat until you use up all of the batter
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1 Fritter
Amount Per Serving Calories 219Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 85mgSodium 930mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 19g
Can Clam Fritters Be Made Ahead Of Time
Yes, you can make these clam fritters ahead of time. Simply follow the recipe steps and let them cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, simply heat them up in the oven at 350°F until warmed through.
Can You Freeze Fritters?
You can also freeze these fritters for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container or bag. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating in the oven.
I hope you love this clam fritter recipe as much as I do and I’d love to hear any variation on the recipe that you have. Be sure to check out our other recipes while you’re here.
Hi Amber, just a tip I do to make the Fritters light and airer, I let them stay in the oil until there are little bubbles on top, and I turn them over, (BUT DONT MASH THEM DOWN). Take them out when done and place on wire rack to drain. However mind don’t stand a chance of draining if I’m not in the kitchen by my self .
Hello Amber! I’m from North Carolina. I’m going to try this recipe. Can I use onion powder instead of minced onions
Hi Linda, yes you can switch the onions for onion powder for sure.
Followed directions to the letter but only made half. Turned out terrible, like clam pancakes, fluffy and not crispy at all. Had to throw them out.
Oh no, I’m sorry Joan. I’m wondering if maybe the oil wasn’t hot enough; that will definitely cause a soggy clam fritter. Also, did you let them sit on a paper towel to absorb excess oil?
Also adding that my family’s clam fritters are “puffy” as opposed to flat. I will edit the post to reflect this. Again, I’m sorry the recipe didn’t stand up to your expectations but I do appreciate the feedback.
Did you pre-cook clams
No, I didn’t. I had them in the freezer so the juice was solid and just minced it all together.
I also am from the good ole Eastern Shore.Its been awhile since ive cooked clam fritters but definitely trying your recipe.
My grandmother used to make these for me. I’ve been looking for this recipe for years. I can’t wait to try it.
Hopefully, it comes close to her recipe!
Thank you. I’ve never made clam fritters and tried this with some green onion and bell pepper added and they were heavenly!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed these!
I live in Maine and dug clams for 25 years!!! 🙂
I’ve never dug clams, but I’ve sure eaten plenty!!
I also live in Maine. These look like I’ve grown up eating. I can’t wait to try them. I got about 8 large given to me. (I’m ashamed to say I’ve never made them) but I sure have eaten a lot.
Just like Mama used to make!! I want some!!
Hopefully you made these and loved them!!
I don’t see why you pre-heat the oven if you fry them.
You’re preheating the oil (that you fry in), not the oven 🙂 The oil needs to be preheated to prevent the fritters from getting mushy.
Making them as I write…What should we put on them when we eat? Lemon, seafood sauce? Can wait to try them..We get them local by us and we dig our own.
Hey Nancy! I squirt lemon juice on mine, a thin layer of cocktail sauce or maybe even tartar sauce may be a nice accompaniment too. I just slap them on bread and dig in <3 Enjoy!
Chef Nancy: Joan, definitely your oil was not hot enough. You should have dropped a tad of batter into the oil first if it sizzles, the oil hot. Put your clam mix into the oil. Crisp then flip over gently. Crisp on second side. Lower heat to cook interior. Note: You can always place brown & crispy paddies in the oven to finish the inside. Good to know when making a large batch. Hope this helps.
My mom served them with applesauce and dill pickles spears. No other pickles will do. You can add sour cream also. Great combination. Remember, never skimp on the clams.
Hi I clam in Ocean city Md and Chincoteague Va. On the Delmarva Peninsula make may clam dishes love these clam fritters
Thanks, Brian! I’m Eastern Shore born and raised, glad you love clam fritters as much as I do 🙂
These are delicious..A bit of work but worth it!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them! They’re definitely worth the effort if you ask me 😀
Used to eat these on the Eastern Shore. Glad I found the recipe !!!
That’s where I live, so you know these are good 😉
I don’t think I have ever eaten a clam fritter! If I can find some clams in our local fish shop I’d love to give this a go though. They look delicious!
These look terrific! Fritters of all kinds work for me, but clams are a favorite!