How to Cook Quahogs

by Melynda Sorrels

Quahog shells were once used as a form of currency, and their name is derived from an Indian word for wages. No longer used as a form of payment, quahogs are also referred to as hard-shelled clams or littlenecks. Measuring only an inch in diameter, these small clams pack a big taste. Enjoy them in chowders, fritters, or all by themselves. If your day of clamming as rendered a surplus of quahogs, you should cook them immediately.

Soak the quahogs in a bucket or sink full of water for 30 minutes or longer to encourage them to expel sand.

Scrub the quahogs with a medium-bristle brush to remove any sand and dirt that may be stuck to the shells. Discard any quahogs whose shells don't close when you touch them.

Shuck the quahogs with a shucking knife if desired.

Place the quahogs into a pot and cover them with a couple inches with water.

Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes for quahogs in the shell. Shucked quahogs should simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the quahogs from the pot with a slotted spoon or pour them gently into a colander. Remove and discard any that didn’t open during cooking.


  • You can fry shucked quahogs in oil heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or bake them for 10 minutes at 450 F. Shucked quahogs can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days or stored in the freezer for up to four months. You can keep live quahogs in the refrigerator for 7 to 10 days wrapped in damp newspaper.

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