How to Do a Clambake in the Backyard: Your Ultimate Guide

how to do a clambake in the backyard

Are you looking for a fun and delicious way to gather friends and family for a backyard get-together? Look no further than a classic clambake! With plenty of fresh seafood, tasty sides, and beverages, a clambake is the perfect way to enjoy a summer afternoon or evening.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to host a successful clambake in your own backyard. From essential tips to mouth-watering menu ideas to step-by-step instructions for cooking your clambake, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways:

  • A clambake is a great way to gather friends and family for a fun and delicious backyard get-together.
  • This ultimate guide will cover essential tips, recipes, and step-by-step instructions to ensure your clambake is a success.

Essential Backyard Clambake Tips

To ensure a successful clambake in your backyard, there are a few essential tips that you should keep in mind:

Selecting the Location

Choose a flat and open area of your backyard that is big enough to accommodate your guests and clambake equipment. You want to make sure that the area is clear of any dry grass or other flammable materials that may catch fire.

Preparing the Equipment

Before you start cooking, make sure that all of your clambake equipment is clean and in good condition. This includes your pot, tongs, and any other utensils you may need. If you’re using a portable clambake cooker, make sure that it is set up properly and in a safe location.

Ensuring Safety

Safety should always be your top priority when hosting a clambake. Make sure that you have a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby in case of an emergency. Keep children and pets away from the cooking area, and make sure that all guests are aware of any potential hazards.

By following these essential backyard clambake tips, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a successful and memorable event for your friends and family.

Clambake Recipes and Menu Ideas

Looking for creative menu ideas to make your backyard clambake a hit? With these delicious and easy-to-follow recipes, you’ll have a clambake feast that’s sure to impress your guests.

New England Clambake Recipe

For a classic New England-style clambake, gather the following ingredients:

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Ingredients Amount
Live Lobsters 2 per person
Steamers or Soft-Shell Clams 1 lb per person
Mussels 1 lb per person
Corn on the Cob 1 per person
Red Bliss Potatoes 2-3 per person
Melted Butter 1-2 cups


  1. Start by digging a pit in your backyard, about 3 feet deep and 2 feet wide. Line the bottom of the pit with rocks, bricks, or seaweed.
  2. Build a fire on top of the rocks and let it burn for about 2 hours, or until the rocks are red-hot.
  3. Layer the clams, mussels, lobsters, corn, and potatoes on top of the rocks, in that order.
  4. Cover the food with a layer of seaweed or wet burlap sacks.
  5. Spray the seaweed or burlap with water to create steam, then cover the pit with a tarp or sheet of metal to trap the heat.
  6. Let the clambake cook for about 1-2 hours, depending on the amount of food and heat of the fire.
  7. Remove the tarp or metal sheet carefully to avoid getting burned by the steam.
  8. Use tongs to remove the food from the pit and place it on a large serving platter.
  9. Serve with melted butter and enjoy!

Alternative Clambake Recipes

If you’re looking to mix things up, try these variations on the classic clambake:

  • Seafood Paella: A Spanish-inspired clambake with saffron rice, shrimp, mussels, clams, and chorizo sausage.
  • Low-Country Boil: A Southern-style clambake with shrimp, crab legs, sausage, corn, and potatoes.
  • Italian Clambake: A Mediterranean twist on the clambake with lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, and pasta in a tomato-based broth.

Pair your clambake with refreshing summer cocktails, like margaritas, mojitos, or sangria, and finish the night off with a delicious dessert, like blueberry cobbler or strawberry shortcake.

Setting Up Your Backyard Clambake

Preparing for a backyard clambake requires careful planning. The first step is to choose the location for your clambake. You’ll need a large space that’s out of the wind and away from any nearby flammable materials.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, you’ll need to prepare the equipment. You can either build a fire pit or use a portable clambake cooker. If you’re building a fire pit, dig a shallow hole and surround it with rocks. Make sure to check local regulations and fire codes before starting the fire.

Next, arrange the cooking and serving areas. Set up a table for the clambake ingredients and one for serving the food. You can also place a few chairs for guests to sit and relax while the food is cooking.

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Equipment Checklist Quantity
Fire pit or portable clambake cooker 1
Large pots or containers 2-3
Large stirring spoon 1
Firewood or charcoal As needed

With these preparations in place, you’ll be well on your way to hosting an unforgettable backyard clambake.

Cooking Your Clambake

Now that you have all your ingredients prepped and your clambake setup in place, it’s time to start cooking!

Start by lighting the fire in your fire pit or turning on your clambake cooker. Wait until the fire has turned into hot embers before proceeding.

Next, layer your ingredients in the following order: seaweed on the bottom, potatoes and corn in the middle, and seafood on top. Be sure to season each layer with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the entire clambake with a layer of dampened burlap or canvas and then top with a layer of wet seaweed. This will help to trap steam and heat, cooking your clambake to perfection.

Let the clambake cook for about an hour, or until everything is cooked through. You can check to see if it’s done by using a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the seafood has reached 145°F.

Once everything is cooked, remove the seaweed and burlap or canvas to reveal your delicious clambake. Serve with lemon wedges, melted butter, and some crusty bread for soaking up all the flavorful juices.

If you’re looking for a traditional clambake recipe, try this one:

Ingredients: Instructions:
5 lbs. seaweed Spread a thick layer on the bottom of your clambake pit or cooker.
8 small potatoes, sliced Place on top of the seaweed layer.
8 ears of corn, shucked and halved Place the halved ears of corn on top of the potatoes.
4 lobsters, cleaned and halved Place the lobster halves on top of the corn layer.
2 lbs. littleneck clams Place the clams on top of the lobsters.
2 lbs. mussels Place the mussels on top of the clams.
1 lb. shrimp Place the shrimp on top of the mussels.
Lemon wedges and melted butter Serve with lemon wedges and melted butter on the side.

With these tips and recipe ideas, you’re now equipped to host your own unforgettable backyard clambake. So gather your friends and family, fire up the grill, and enjoy a delicious seafood feast in the great outdoors!


Congratulations! You are now equipped with all the knowledge and tips necessary to host an unforgettable backyard clambake. From selecting the perfect location to cooking the clambake to perfection, this guide has covered it all.

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Remember, safety is key when setting up and cooking your clambake. Always follow instructions carefully and take precautionary measures to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your clambake recipes and menu ideas. Mix and match different flavors and seafood options to create your own unique twist on this classic dish.

Now it’s time to get started! Gather your friends and family, roll up your sleeves, and begin planning your own backyard clambake. Trust us, once you’ve experienced the magic of a clambake, you’ll want to make it an annual tradition.


Q: Can I do a clambake in my backyard if I don’t have a fire pit?

A: Absolutely! You can either build a temporary fire pit using bricks or use a portable clambake cooker for cooking your clambake in the backyard.

Q: What seafood can I use for a clambake?

A: While clams are the traditional choice for a clambake, you can also include other seafood like lobster, shrimp, mussels, and even fish in your clambake.

Q: How long does it take to cook a clambake?

A: The cooking time for a clambake can vary depending on the size of your clambake and the heat of your fire. It typically takes around 1 to 2 hours for everything to cook thoroughly.

Q: Can I make a vegetarian clambake?

A: Yes, you can create a vegetarian version of a clambake by using vegetables like corn, potatoes, onions, and carrots as the main ingredients. Just substitute the seafood with your favorite plant-based protein options.

Q: What sides go well with a clambake?

A: Traditional sides that pair well with a clambake include coleslaw, cornbread, steamed vegetables, and potato salad. You can also serve fresh salads, bread rolls, and various dips and sauces.

Q: Can I cook a clambake indoors?

A: While a clambake is traditionally cooked outdoors, you can adapt the cooking process for indoor cooking by using a large pot or Dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven. However, be cautious of the potential for strong seafood odors.

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