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7 Clam Alternatives

A collage of clam alternatives.

Clams are invertebrate animals which means they do not have a spine. They are a type of shellfish that falls under the invertebrate class Bivalvia. They are mollusks that have a bivalved shell which means they have one shell with two separate sections to it.

A bunch of vongole clams on a hot plate with slices of lemon.

Many people enjoy eating clams or dishes that contain clams or clam juice but what happens when you do not have any clams or other clam-based products on hand? Check out our detailed list below for an array of clam alternatives that you can use instead.

Related: Clams vs. Mussels | Clams vs. Oysters | Types of Clams | What to Serve with Steamed Clams | How to Clean Clams | How to Store Clams


From oysters and mussels to crab meat or shrimp, there are several clam alternatives you can use in a variety of dishes since fresh clams can be hard to find at many smaller grocery stores and of course, depending on your location as well.

Clam Chowder

A close look at a cup of clam chowder.

If you are making clam chowder but cannot find any clams to use in your recipe, do not fret because you can use mussels or oysters instead. You can also use chicken if need be or chicken stock in the cream base for your chowder. If your local store has canned clams but no fresh ones on hand, you can certainly opt for those instead.

A close look at a bowl of chowder with mussels and lemon.

Once you throw in your celery or celery salt, potato, and other delicious goodies, your chowder will still taste great and no one will miss the fresh clams or steamed clams they are used to tasting in your delicious chowder. You can also top off this dish with some delectable oyster crackers and old bay seasoning to make this dish taste amazing.

Linguine with Clams but Mussels Instead

You can replace clams in your linguine sauce with mussels and it is still delicious. A mussel is the closest in taste for clams but you can also try oysters. You will still get that seafood flavor you are striving for in this dish.

A linguine pasta dish with mussels.

You can also do this for other dishes that normally call for clams to be used. It will still taste great and your dinner guests will be just as satisfied.

Also, if your linguine recipe calls for a certain type of clams, such as palourde clams which are sometimes referred to as carpet shell clams and or manila clams, you can swap them out for a different small or medium-sized clam that you can find at a local store to you, including cherrystone clams, littleneck clams or small ark clams.

You can use these alternatives when you cook in any recipe that calls for a fish sauce.

Clam Base

A bowl of clam base clear soup with sides.

You will need to create a clam base for clam chowder and soup but if you are fresh out of clams for your base, you can use vegetable stock in place of the clam juice. If you want to create a vegan version, you can also use king oyster mushrooms as they are the best substitute you can use for clams while keeping on track for your vegan lifestyle.

Clam Juice Alternatives

This is a close look at a bowl of shellfish clam juice.

Clam juice can be a tasty addition to several different types of pastries, fish dishes, and cocktails but what if you are out of it and your local grocery store does not have it? This versatile juice can definitely be hard to find at many stores so you will have to understand what you can use to substitute for it.

But since it is hard to find a substitute for clam juice that has the same taste, using the original is always recommended. Nonetheless, there are a handful of alternatives that can help you reach very similar flavors.

Fish Stock or fumet

Fish soup with vegetables cooking in a pot.

You can make a fish stock, also known as fumet, to use in place of clam juice. You can create this by simmering bones from many different types of fish that you may have available to you. You should use the spines, heads, tails, or ribs of a white-fleshed fish, such as halibut, cod, bass, snapper, or tilefish.

You should avoid using oily fish or fish with darker flesh, including tuna fish, salmon, or mackerel since they boast a stronger flavor and may overwhelm the dish you are cooking that calls for clam juice in the first place. The most popular veggies to use when you are creating your fish stock are onions, parsley, fennel, and celery. You can try carrots if need be but they will make your broth an orange color.

Chicken Stock

This is a close look at chicken stock cooking in a pot.

Chicken stock is another great alternative to clam juice. It is easy to make by simply boiling chicken, bones and all, along with some delicious veggies, water, and herbs. Chicken stock does have a milder flavor than clam juice so the dish you are making may taste a little different but it will still be delicious so this is a viable clam alternative.

Vegetable Stock

This is a close look at vegetable stock cooking in a pot.

Vegetable stock is also a great clam juice alternative. Simply brown some celery, carrots, onions, and fennels before placing them in a pot of water to boil. Toss in some herbs and spices and allow the mixture to caramelize and you will have a wonderful alternative to clam juice for the dish you are making.

If you are making a clam base, simply add in some heavy cream or cashew cream to make a delicious chowder or another recipe. You should also add some rehydrated dry mushrooms and a dash of tomato paste to your vegetable stock to give it more flavor. While the vegetable stock is not as good of a clam juice alternative as fish or chicken stock, it will work when it is the only option available to you at that time.

Keep in mind that vegetable stock is different than making vegetable broth and that you can add in some lemon juice to give your vegetable stock a more tangy flavor.


A close look at a pot of Japanese Dashi soup.

Dashi is another option you can use in place of clam juice. It is a Japanese word that refers to a group of broths and in this case, it combines dried tuna fish flakes with dried kelp which is also known as katsuobushi. Dashi has an umami flavor that comes from the higher salt content of the flakes that are used to create it.

So basically, dashi is the Japanese version of fish stock and it works well as a clam juice substitute. It tastes good to use it, also, as a substitute for clam juice in chowders and different types of seafood soup. You can also add it to fish stock to add in some more flavor.

FAQs About Clams and Clam Alternatives

Is a clam a fish?

Clams are considered to be an animal without a backbone but are a type of shellfish.

How do you substitute bacon for chowder?

Smoked brisket or beef bacon would make good substitutes along with smoked poultry, including duck, chicken, or turkey.

What is Chowder?

Chowder is a very hearty and rich type of soup that is usually made with clams or other seafood or chicken. It begins with a base that is created with salt pork or bacon and a combination of several veggies, such as celery, onions, and potatoes. Most chowders have a heavy cream type base but some, such as Manhattan Chowder, boast a tomato paste base.