Can you guys tell I love seafood yet? There’s clearly been a shellfish trend happening on the site the past few recipes. Now, part of this was due to our recent clam and oyster harvest of epic proportions; we’ve been up to our elbows in shellfish here! Naturally, some of it made its way into a recipe or four… it’s what I love to do! But the other reason I’ve focused on keto shellfish recipes has more to do with people worrying about the carbs in clams and oysters than what I have stocked in my fridge. So today, I’ve got a killer keto steamed clams recipe paired with the reassurance that you can enjoy shellfish on a very low carb diet.
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Carbs in clams
Clams have carbs in them. Does that mean you can’t eat them on a keto diet? No. Eggs have carbs in them. Vegetables have carbs in them. A lot of things have carbs in them. We just need a little context!
In 100 grams of raw clams (that’s 100 grams of the flesh, without the shell), there are only 3.57 grams of carbohydrates.
That’s a lot of clams! Especially if you’re looking at the smaller, steamer clam variety. According to the USDA nutrient database, an entire pound of clams with the shell equates to only 68 grams of edible clam once the shell is removed. And that’s just 2.43 grams of carbs! Now we’re cookin’.
Let’s say you were aiming to stay under 20 grams of carbs per day. You would need to eat 8.23 pounds of clams with the shell on, or 1.23 pounds (559.67 grams) with the shell off, to reach your carb limit. Clams come in all shapes and sizes, but I think we can agree that unless you’re a competitive geoduck eater, you’d be hard-pressed to eat that much clam meat in one day.
Are you looking for more low carb clam recipes? Check out my dairy-free keto clam chowder recipe!
Keto Steamed Clams Recipe
One of the absolute easiest ways to prepare clams is to steam them. If you want to stick with the basics, you could only use water to steam and enjoy the clams au naturel. I like to infuse a little extra flavor and love, love, love seafood with garlic butter.
Seafood + Garlic butter = Match made in heaven
The only thing that could make it better is adding some fresh herbs. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do!
Grab a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and melt the butter down over medium heat. Toss in your minced garlic, basil leaves, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add in your clams, cover, and let steam for about 7-8 minutes.
Shake the pan to coat the clams and evenly distribute heat, but don’t open the lid to stir. We’re steaming for Crissakes! Don’t peek and keep the top shut. Your goal is for all the shells to pop wide open; a transparent lid really helps get the timing right (and ease your burning curiosity)!
If you’ve done your due diligence, aka waited out the 7-8 minutes with the lid closed, most of the clams will pop right open. If any stragglers haven't opened, you can toss those out. Some people keep them and pry them open; I give them the ol’ heave-ho into the trash bin. As with literally everything on the internet, there is heated debate and good arguments for both sides about what to do with unopened clams. It’s not that deep; do whatever feels right to you.
Now serve those delicious keto steamed clams and enjoy your shellfish!
- 1 pound steamer-sized clams in shell small, ~68g without shell
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 10 fresh basil leaves whole
- ½ cup chicken broth
- Melt butter in large saucepan, one with a tight fitting lid, over medium heat.
- Add garlic, basil leaves, and chicken broth to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Mix in clams and cover with tight fitting lid, leaving heat on medium-high.
- Steam for 7-8 minutes without removing the lid.
- While clams are steaming, shake pan over heat to evenly coat the shellfish.
- Remove lid; if sauce looks thin, leave pan over heat without lid until sauce is desired consistency. Optional: add an additional tablespoon of butter to the pan if desired and fits your macros.
- Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency.
- Discard any clams that have not opened and serve immediately.
Hi, I'm Tasha–nutritionist, recipe developer, and multi-published author dedicated to helping people thrive and succeed using low carb and keto dietary patterns.