They might look fancy, but they are super easy to make! Smoked Clams Casino is the perfect grilled appetizer to enjoy on a beautiful day.
Guarantee a house win with this easy Clams Casino Recipe!
These buttery half shell clams stuffed with bacon, breadcrumbs, and more make this a true jackpot in every bite.
History of Clams Casino
Clams Casino first showed up on menus in the early 1900s in the Northeastern United States. Legend has it they were first served at the little Casino in Narragansett Rhode Island.
Created as a special request of a woman who was looking to impress her guests. The recipe traditionally includes clams, bell peppers, bacon, and breadcrumbs but there are many variations.
Later, in New Orleans, Oysters Casino became and remain very popular due to the abundance of oysters in the Mississippi and nearby gulf.
What are the Different Types of Clams?
There are many different varieties of clams but the ones most commonly consumed are found in the northeastern United States.
Other varieties like Manila clams found on the west coast. These clams are small, sweet, and mainly served in pasta dishes or steamed and served with clarified butter.
You also have varieties like Atlantic and Pacific Razor Clams, along with the very peculiar-looking Geuduck clam.
East Coast Clams
The clams I grew up on all hail from the northeastern United States. Clams and other shellfish were the main sources of sustenance for the Native Americans of the Narragansett tribe.
Their name for the mollusk was poquauhock which over time morphed into the word quahog by early English settlers.
Clams are named and classified based on size, the smaller clams are sweeter and more tender while larger clams have a tougher texture often chopped up for soups and chowders.
List of Quahog Clams Smallest to Largest
- Countneck-smallest legally harvested clam
- Little neck- commonly steamed, sweet and tender
- Top Neck- medium size still tender enough to serve whole
- Cherry stone- most popular for grilling or stuffed clams
- Chowder- largest of the quahogs, Mainly chopped for soups and stews.”
Chowder clams are sometimes called Quahogs especially by northeastern natives.
How to Purge Clams
When purchasing clams you may need to do some work before cooking. Oftentimes, the outer shells will be muddy with some sand on the outside.
Always ask your fishmonger if the clams have already been cleaned and purged. If not, it’s no big deal and you’ll just need to clean them yourself.
Simply give the clams a light scrub under cold water and rinse thoroughly. Next, you’ll need to purge any sand out of the clams by soaking clams in cold water for about 2 hours.
This will make sure you don’t have gritty clams when you eat them after cooking. I prefer to purge my clams in salted water so they still have that clean saltwater flavor.
Smoked Clams Casino Ingredients
Clams: For this recipe, you will need 24 Cherrystone Clams.
Butter: This recipe definitly uses butter so be sure to have 8 oz of unsalted butter (2 sticks) on hand. If you are doubling the recipe, make sure you have enough butter!
The Filling: The filling of these mouthwatering clams calls for crispy bacon, bell peppers (red peppers, green peppers, whatever color peppers), chopped fresh garlic, Italian Pork King Good Breadcrumbs, ½ cup of chopped parsley, ½ cup of sliced scallions, and ½ tbsp of crushed red chili flakes.
How to Make Smoked Clams Casino
Clean and purge clams. Rinse and srub the outside of each clam using cold water. Once the clams are clean fill a large pot or bowl with cold water and a ¼ cup of salt. Let the clams sit in the water to purge for about 2 hours. Let butter sit out to soften while clams purge.
Preheat the grill. Preheat the pellet grill to 325 degrees F.
Prepare the filling. Cut raw bacon into 1 inch pieces and saute until crispy. Remove bacon and let coll on a paper towel and saute the scallions, diced bell pepper and garlic in the bacon fat. When done, let cool to room temperature.
Continue preparing the filling. Fold the sauteed vegies, crispy bacon and ¼ cup of the pork king good Italian breadcrumbs with the softened butter. When done, mix in remaining seasonings and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese.
Cook the clams. Once the clams are purged drain them off and pat dry and place them on the pellet grill to cook for about 25 minutes until the shells have completly opened. When done, carefully remove the clams from the grill.
Chop the clams. Once they have cooled down harvest the clams from the shells and chop them up to a medium dice. Don’t worry if they aren’t all exactly the same size, few big chunks is ok, but overal they should be evenly chopped.
Turn up the heat. Increase the temperature of the pellet grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fill the clams. Fold the chopped clams into the casino butter mixture. Then split apart the shells and rinse off any shell fragments. Scoop a heaping spoonful of the casino butter into 24 shells. Stir together the remaining pork king good breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese then sprinkle over the clams.
Cook the clams. Place the clams on a sheet pan and cook at 400 degrees in the pellet grill for 10-15 minutes until the crumbs on top are golden and the butter begins to bubble out the sides.
Recipe Tips, Tricks, and Variations
Breadcrumbs. You can use panko breadcrumbs if you don’t want to use pork rinds.
Baked Clams Casino. If you don’t have a pellet grill, you can bake them in your over. However, you won’t have that smoky flavor that I think really makes the recipe something special and brag worthy.
Be careful. Once the clams open up be careful when removing them from the grill because there will be some leftover liquid in the shell that is scalding hot.
Glass Bakeware. If you decide to bake and broil your clams, do not use glass bakeware when broiling. Please exersice caution even if the bakeware says “oven-safe” or “heat resistant.” The glass could explode and no one wants to clean that mess up.
Other seasoning. Looking to add or change your seasoning? Consider using freshly ground black pepper or sea salt.
Don’t forget the lemon. Lemon really just finishes this dish, so don’t forget to serve it up with lemon wedges on the side so who’s ever enjoying the dish can determine how much lemon juice that want on top of their clams. Really love lemon? Consider adding lemon zest as a garnish before serving.
How to Plate and Serve Clams Casino
Once those beautiful Smoked Clams Casino are cooked and ready to eat you’ll want to just put them on a plate. One problem.
They’re gonna slide everywhere and either falls off the plate or be a complete pain in the ass to eat. To fix this we’ve got 2 options.
They make plates specially for clams casino and oyster Rockefeller that have impressions to hold the shells in place. Your other option is to simply mix a cup of kosher salt with about a tablespoon of water together.
The salt will clump up and then you can spoon out dollops on the plate to set the clams in.
It’s a really nice presentation and only takes an extra second to prepare. other than that a few lemon wedges and a couple of sprigs of parsley and you’re set.
Make it a Meal!
Starving? Looking to make these smoked clams a full blown meal that is bound to impress? Have a some extra butter?
Make Spaghetti Casino or use any cut of pasta, and make Pasta Casino!
Throw some pasta into a pot of boiling water and toss it in that bacony clam butter and top with smoked clams!
This is any easy way to turn a simple appetizer into an easy dinner or easy romantic dinner on a last minute date night at home.
More Fantastic Seafood Recipes
- New Orleans Style Barbecue Shrimp
- Easy At Home Boiled Lobster w/ Drawn Butter
- Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce
- Creamy White Crab Chili
- Cedar Plank Smoked Crab Cakes
Smoked Clams Casino
- Pellet Grill- I used the Rec Tec RT-700
- Rinse and srub the outside of each clam using cold water. once the clams are clean fill a large pot or bowl with cold water and a ¼ cup of salt. let the clams sit in the water to purge for about 2 hours. let butter sit out to soften while clams purge.
- Preheat the Pelet grill to 325 degrees F.
- cut raw bacon into 1 inch pieces and saute until crispy. Remove bacon and let coll on a paper towel. saute the scallions, diced bell pepper and garlic in the bacon fat. then let cool to room temperature.
- fold the sauteed vegies, crispy bacon and ¼ cup of the pork king good breadcrumbs with the softened butter. then mix in remaining seasonings and 2 tbsp parmesan cheese.
- once the clams are purged drain them off and pat dry. place them on you pellet grill to cook for about 25 minutes until the shells have completly opened. carfully remove the clams from the grill. once cooled down harvest the clams from the shells and chop them up to a medium dice. a few big chunks is ok but overal they should be evenly chopped.
- Increase the temperature of the pellet grill to 400
- Fold the Chopped clams into the casino butter mixture. then split apart the shells and rinse off any shell fragments. Scoop a heaping spoonful of the casino butter into 24 shells. Stir together the remaining pork king good breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese then sprinkle over the clams
- place the clams on a sheet pan and cook at 400 degrees in the pellet grill for 10-15 minutes until the crumbs on top are golden and the butter begins to bubble out the sides.