Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Carne Diem
Protein: Seafood, Shellfish
Origin: North American, American Northeast
Method: Grill or SmokerJump to Recipe
These perfectly grilled clams make for a great seafood appetizer for your summer BBQ and have become one of our favorite shellfish recipes to make on our BBQ grill. These grilled clams are super easy to make and super delicious.
Table of contents
What are Clams Casino?
Clams Casino are a New England staple and are believed to have been invented in Rhode Island in the early 1900s. While there can be variations, this dish typically consists of clams on the half shell, topped with bacon, red peppers and breadcrumbs, and then baked. For our version we use panko bread crumbs which hold there crunch better than standard breadcrumbs and use hot Peppadew peppers to add a little spice to the dish. We then cook the clams on the grill, for a perfect grilled seafood appetizer.
How to Make Grilled Clams Casino
These Grilled Clams Casino are super easy to make and only require a few ingredients. A lot of the prep can also be done ahead of time which makes for a great appetizer on the grill so you can focus your time on the main dish.
What are the Best Clams for Making Clams Casino?
Traditionally this New England clam recipe is made with little neck clams. Little neck clams are the smallest of the quahog clam species. Cherrystone clams are the same species and are the next largest in size. We like to use the largest little neck clams that we can find or some of the smaller cherrystone clams. We find that as the clams get much bigger than moderate sized cherrystones, the meat can become tougher, and it is not as flavorful. When we can find them, we like use Manila little neck clams, also known as Japanese little neck clams. Manila clams are prized for their sweet flavor and tend to be meatier than clams of equivocal size. You can usually find these fantastic clams at Asian markets if you have any near you.
Use fresh clams
Whenever possible we recommend cooking the clams the same day that you get them. If you need to put off cooking, you can store them in the refrigerator for a day. Store them in a mesh bag with some ice if possible. Do not keep them submerged and never store them wrapped in a plastic bag our anything else that is not breathable. Discard any clams that do not close when you tap them, as they are likely dead or sick.
Prep and purge the clams
Clean any debris from the outside of the clams and then purge them by placing the clams in cold water, with a generous amount of salt. This will cause them to purge any sand or debris from their system. Leave them there for about 15 minutes and repeat the process if they are expelling a lot of debris. This is more important with fresh caught clams, but we use this process even with clams from the store.
Preparing the topping for the clams
To make the topping for Clam Casino you will need Panko breadcrumbs, Peppadew peppers (or other type of red pepper), oregano, cooking Sherry (or white wine) a small shallot, parsley, bacon, and shredded parmesan cheese.
First, cook the bacon until crispy in a frying pan. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve the bacon grease. Finely chop the bacon.
Next, add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and sauté the diced shallot over medium heat. Add the diced peppers and wine and reduce until the liquid is nearly gone. Remove from the heat.
While the veggies are cooking, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease over the panko and stir to combine. Combine the pepper and shallot mixture with the bacon bits, oregano, parsley and parmesan in a bowl.
Cooking Clams Casino on the grill
Preheat your grill to 450 degrees. Cook the clams for 5 minutes or until all of the clams have opened. Remove the clams from the grill. For this recipe we grilled the clams on a Big Green Egg. The recipe works great with any grill including pellet grills, but we prefer the wood fired flavor given by wood and charcoal grills as it is such a short cooking time.
When cool enough to handle remove the tops from the clams. Top each clam with 1 teaspoon of the pepper and bacon mix then top with the panko breadcrumbs.
Grill the Clams Casino for 7 minutes or until the panko breading is golden.
For more great grilled seafood recipes, be sure to check out some of our favorite seafood recipes to make on our BBQ grill:
- Drago's Inspired Chargrilled Oysters
- Wood Fired Croatian Mussels: Dagnje na Buzaru
- Wood-Fired Seafood Paella
- Grilled Feta and Orzo Stuffed Branzino
- Fried Lump Crab Cakes with Sriracha Mayonnaise
- Shrimp Mozambique: Spicy Portuguese Shrimp
- Spicy, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp: Bottle Rocket Shrimp
- New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp
- Maple Bourbon Hot Smoked Salmon
Serve the Grilled Clams Casino while hot as a classy appetizer for a grilled steak like our Ancho Espresso Steak or an elegant Filet Mignon with Goat Cheese Sauce and Grand Marnier Sautéed Peppers.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use a variety of clams for grilling. Little neck clams are the smallest of the quahog clam species and work great for cooking on your grill. Cherrystone clams are the same species and are the next largest in size and also grill up well. When we can find them, we like use Manila little neck clams, also known as Japanese little neck clams. Manila clams are prized for their sweet flavor and tend to be meatier than clams of equivocal size. You can usually find these fantastic clams at Asian markets if you have any near you.
Traditionally, Clam Casino consists of clams baked on the half shell that are topped with breadcrumbs, bacon, peppers, and onion. Additional ingredients are also common in different variations throughout New England.
Clams Casino originated in New England, where it remains a popular appetizer today. It is believed to have been created at the Narragansett Pier Casino in Rhode Island, by Julius Keller who wanted an elegant appetizer to serve her guests.
Clams Oreganta is a much simpler version of baked clams on the half shell, typically consisting of just breadcrumbs and some seasoning. Clams Casino is a more elegant version typically adding bacon, green peppers, and onion to the breaded clams.
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Grilled Clams Casino
- 2 pounds Little Neck Clams about 18-24
- 4 Slices Bacon
- ½ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- ¼ Cup Hot Peppadew Peppers diced
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
- ¼ teaspoon Oregano
- 1 Shallot diced. About ¼ cup.
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- ¼ Cup Sherry or white wine
- ¼ Cup Shredded Parmesan
- Cook the bacon until crispy, in a frying pan. Remove from the pan and reserve the bacon grease. Finely chop the bacon.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and sauté the diced shallot over medium heat. Add the diced peppers and wine and reduce until the liquid is nearly gone. Remove from the heat.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease over the panko and stir to combine.
- Combine the pepper and shallot mixture with the bacon bits, oregano, parsley and parmesan in a bowl.
- Preheat your grill to 450 degrees.
- Cook the clams for 5 minutes or until all of the clams have opened. Remove the clams from the grill.
- When cool enough to handle remove the tops from the clams.
- Top each clam with 1 teaspoon of the pepper and bacon mix then top with the panko bread crumbs.
- Grill the Calms Casino for 7 minutes or until the panko breading is golden.
- Serve warm.