These homemade clam cakes, a southern New England specialty and one of our Favorite Clam Recipes, are a staff favorite: tender, stuffed with clams, crisp and never greasy. You’ll also find them in good company on our list of 75 Classic New England Foods. The best “how to make clam cakes” trick is to use baking soda as the leavening agent, which produces a drier exterior. A little lemon juice in the batter activates the soda, but is only barely detectable. The lemon slices served alongside do the work of flavoring the fritters with a hit of acidity.
Clam cakes also incredibly easy to make. Can you make pancakes? Then you can make these.
Here’s how to make the cakes in step-by-step photos. Just want the recipe? Head on over to the Crispy Homemade Clam Cakes Recipe.
How to Make Clam Cakes | Step-by-Step
Start by filling a large Dutch oven with enough vegetable oil to reach a depth of about 3 inches. Set it over medium high heat and bring the oil to a temperature of about 375°.
You want two cups of chopped clam meat, with the juices.
To the clams, add 1/2 cup milk, a large beaten egg, and 2 tablespoons of melted salted butter.
In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon each of baking powder and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the clam mixture to the dry mixture along with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and stir just enough to combine. Too much mixing makes the clam cakes tough.
I like to use a medium cookie dough scoop to load the batter into the oil. If anything starts to stick, I just dip the scoop in the oil to lubricate. A standard tablespoon or soup spoon will work just fine, too.
Add a batch of clam cakes to the oil, but don’t overcrowd the pan. The oil will bubble vigorously.
It took me about 4 batches to use up all the dough. When the cakes come out of the oil, let them cool and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
To serve, arrange them on a plate with plenty of lemon wedges.
And that’s it! Just be sure to have enough friends and family around to eat them while they’re fresh.
Have you ever made homemade clam cakes?
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.