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Classic New England Clambake

If there is one thing that really screams summer in New England, it's a classic New England clambake with friends and family. Learn how to cook a clambake in your own backyard.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Soaking Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: new england clambake
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 478kcal
Author: Grow a Good Life


For the Seasoning Pouch:

For the Clambake:

  • 2 pounds small red potatoes about 16
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme about 50 sprigs
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary about 25 sprigs
  • 3 pounds littleneck or cherrystone clams cleaned
  • 2 pounds steamers cleaned
  • 2 pounds mussels cleaned
  • 8 ears corn on the cob cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 6 live lobsters about 1 1/4 pounds each
  • 4 lemons sliced into wedges
  • Plenty of fresh water
  • Plenty of melted butter for serving


  • Get the lobster pot setup on the burner. Add about 5 inches of water and bring the pot to a boil over high heat.
  • White the water is heating, add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, sea salt and peppercorns, to the center of a large square of cheesecloth. Gather the four corners to form a pouch, and tie with kitchen twine. Drop the pouch into the boiling water.
  • While the seasoning is infusing, gather the cleaned clams, steamers, and mussels loosely into large squares of cheesecloth, and tie the corners to form pouches. Set aside.
  • Add the potatoes to the steamer basket, and scatter about half the herbs on top of the potatoes (if you have seaweed from the market, include some here as well).
  • Insert the steamer basket into the pot. The potatoes should be submerged in the water. If not, add more water until the potatoes are covered. Cover and boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes are partially cooked, add the corn and remaining herbs to the steamer. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Snip off the elastic bands from the claws, and add the lobsters to the pot.
  • Layer the clams, steamers, and mussel pouches on top, cover and steam until the lobsters are bright red, and the clams and mussels open, about 7 to 9 minutes for 1 1/4-pound lobsters (see notes for other sizes).
  • To check, stick an instant read thermometer into the area where the tail meets the body. Lobster meat is fully cooked when it reaches 140ºF. If you don't have a thermometer, cut the shell where the tail meets the body. If the meat is white, the lobster is fully cooked. If it is still translucent, return it to the pot.
  • Turn off the heat, uncover the pot, and pull out the pouches of clams, steamers, and mussels. Open the pouches and dump into serving bowls. Discard any that have not opened.
  • Remove the lobsters using kitchen tongs. Snip the tips of each claw with kitchen shears and hold the lobster upside down to let the liquid drain back into the pot. Place the lobster into serving bowls.
  • Lift the steaming basket, let the broth drain back into the pot, and transfer corn and potatoes to serving bowls.
  • Ladle broth over the lobsters and clams, and into several small bowls for rinsing the meat after extracting from the shells.
  • Serve warm with lemon wedges, melted butter, and the rest of your side dishes. Serves 6 people.


Steaming time is based on lobsters that weigh 1 1/4 pounds each. Adjust the timing for other sizes. Add your lobsters to the pot, and start timing when the steaming water returns to a boil.
  • 1 to 1 1/4-pound 7 to 9 minutes
  • 1 1/2 pound 9 to 11 minutes
  • 2 pound 11 to 12 minutes
  • 3 pound 12 to 14 minutes
Save the cooking liquid left in the pot and the shells for making a delicious seafood stock. Once your guests leave, pile the shells back into the pot, add plenty of water, extra onions, garlic, carrots, and simmer for about an hour. Let cool, strain, and store in freezer containers. Use for making chowders.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 478kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 450mg | Sodium: 1821mg | Potassium: 901mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Calcium: 312mg | Iron: 7mg