New England Portuguese Clam Boil: A Simple Recipe

Soup Recipes

A few weeks ago I headed out to the South Coast of Massachusetts (which has a heavy Portuguese influence) to visit a friend. My first night I was treated to an old-fashioned New England Portuguese clam boil.

As someone relatively new to New England (and who also resides in land-locked western MA), I’d never heard of a clam boil before.

A New England Portuguese clam boil is kind of like the simplified version of a clam bake. Here's a simple recipe that can be made in less than a half hour.

I learned that a New England Portuguese clam boil is kinda like the quick and simplified version of a New England clam bake which is a time-intensive process that involves digging a fire pit on the beach, the use of hot stones and seaweed.

Now I’ve had a few traditional New England clam bakes in my life and they are, let’s just say… epically memorable.

But they’re not something the average Joe in middle America (or even New England) is going to whip up for dinner.

How to Make New England Portuguese Clam Boil

However, a New England Portuguese clam boil can be made in about a half hour by anyone, anywhere with just a stockpot and stove top.  You may not find fresh local steamer clams in your area but you can use any combination of seafood that you’d like – mussels, shrimp, other types of clams and lobster all work well.

As far as I’m concerned, it is equally as epic as a clam bake.

It’s also a GREAT meal for the Fourth of July or any backyard, friends and family summer gathering. As I’ll be on Cape Cod with family this weekend, I’ll be making it for third time in three weeks.

I was lucky enough to have some fish stock in my freezer which made this recipe even more fantastically fishy (I love fishy).  But if you don’t have fish stock, you can use clam juice and water instead.

And if you’re one of those weird ones that don’t like overly fishy flavors (shockingly common), use water and a bottle or two of beer instead.

My version involves drinking one while everything cooks.

New England Portugese Clam Boil

New England Portuguese Clam Boil Recipe

A New England Portuguese clam boil is kind of like the simplified version of a clam bake. Here's a simple recipe that can be made in less than a half hour.

Course Main Course
Cuisine New England, Portuguese
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Author Craig Fear


  • 2-3 quarts fish broth or 2-3 cups of clam juice and 2-3 quarts of water
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 pounds potatoes, whole or chopped
  • 2-3 yellow onions, quartered
  • 3-4 pounds steamer clams
  • 1 package hot dogs, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 3-4 links chorizo sausage, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 3-4 ears fresh corn, cut in halves or thirds
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted for dipping clams
  • Lemon wedges


  1. Rinse clams and then soak in cold water, about five to ten minutes. Drain, rinse and soak a few times more to remove sand and dirt.
  2. Add stock to stock pot along with garlic, potatoes and onions and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked through. Add corn at this step or boil in a separate pot.

  3. Add sausage and hot dogs and cook til done, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the steamer clams, raise heat and boil until the shells open, about 5-7 minutes. Discard any clams that don't open.

  5. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.
  6. Ladle into separate bowls, with broth or serve broth on the side for dipping.
  7. Enjoy!


A New England Portuguese clam boil is kind of like the simplified version of a clam bake. Here's a simple recipe that can be made in less than a half hour.

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About the Author

Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.

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