How to Cook Gaper Clams

Updated February 21, 2017

A gaper clam gets its nickname from the gaping hole at one end of its thin, brittle shell. A soft-shell clam, the gaper also goes by the names long-neck clam or mud clam. The rubbery siphon sticking out of one end is used to draw in water and prohibits the clam from completely closing its shell. This clam possesses a sweet, slightly briny flavour, making it a poor choice for eating it raw on the half shell. Steamed in water, though, the gaper clam will delight most seafood lovers.

Mix 1 gallon of water with 1/3 cup salt in a large bowl. Soak the gaper clams in this saltwater for about an hour to remove the sand from inside the shells. Keep the container in the refrigerator during this time.

Examine the gaper clams and discard the ones that have broken shells. Discard any clams that appear to be dead. To test this, touch the siphon at the end, or tap the top of the shell. If the shell clamps shut, it is still alive. If the clam does not respond, it is dead.

Bring 2 cups of water, 1 cup of wine, 4 tbsp chopped parsley and 2 tbsp garlic powder to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium, drop the clams into the water and put a lid on the pot. Steam the clams for about five to 10 minutes or until they open up. Do not overcook them or they could become rubbery.

Drain the clams into a colander and discard any that didn't open up. Put 1/2 cup of butter into a small saucepan and melt it over medium heat.

Serve the gaper clams immediately with melted butter in a small dipping bowl.


Cook gaper clams the same day they are purchased. Store them in a bowl covered with a damp towel and place them in the refrigerator. Substitute the wine with 1 cup of chicken broth, if desired.


Keep the clams in the refrigerator uncovered or they may die.

Things You'll Need

  • 12 gaper clams
  • Large bowl
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Large saucepan
  • 1 cup wine
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Small dipping bowls
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About the Author

Donna Tinus has been a writer since 2005. She has a background in medical terminology and has written articles for various websites on topics such as family, finance, medicine, health, pets, gardening, beauty and relationships. Tinus holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Centenary College.