Lemony Clam Dip with Shallots

published Nov 11, 2022
Clam Dip Recipe

This clam dip features a holy trinity of creamy, briny, and lemony flavors. Grab a bag of potato chips.


Makesabout 1 3/4 cups

Prep10 minutes

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closeup of bowl of clam dip on platter with ridged potato chips
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

When it comes to classic party foods that have stood the test of time, clam dip sits proudly at the top of the list. Since the 1950s, clam dip has been a fixture of dinner parties, game days, and holiday fêtes. The reason: It’s extremely simple to prepare, and yet it feels luxurious to eat.

Here, we have a clam dip that stays true to the original, marrying canned clams, softened cream cheese, and sour cream with a few notable upgrades — shallots within and chives on top for a subtle onion flavor, and plenty of lemon zest to brighten things up. I prefer Tabasco as my clam dip hot sauce of choice, but you can use your favorite. Cholula, Texas Pete, and even Sriracha would be welcome to join the party.

Should your dip run on the thick side, add a splash or two of the canned clam liquid to thin it out until you get a consistency you like, remembering that the dip will firm up a bit in the fridge. A good potato chip is essential to the experience, and I stand by the supremacy of Ruffles for such an occasion, although a Cape Cod or Kettle Chip can also get the job done.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

How Clam Dip Became Popular

Clam dip is one of those classic recipes that feels like it’s been around forever. The dip reached peak popularity in the 1950s after it was mentioned on the Kraft Music Hall Show. After the segment aired, canned minced clams sold out in New York City in 24 hours, and the dip remained a fixture of dinner parties for the next few decades.

What to Serve with Clam Dip

  • Chips: Use sturdy chips, like Ruffles or Kettle Chips to avoid breakage.
  • Crackers: You can use them for dipping, too. Or you can pile up scoops of the dip on Saltines or Ritz Crackers.
  • Crudité: For a more elegant spread, serve clam dip with endive or crudité, including celery, carrots, and bell pepper strips.

Clam Dip Recipe

This clam dip features a holy trinity of creamy, briny, and lemony flavors. Grab a bag of potato chips.

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 1 (6.5-ounce) can

    chopped clams

  • 1

    small shallot

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 8 to 10

    fresh chives

  • 1/2 cup

    sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly ground pepper

  • 2 to 3 dashes

    Tabasco hot sauce

  • Thick-cut potato or ruffled potato chips, sliced cucumber, or buttery crackers, for serving


  1. Place 8 ounces cream cheese in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened, at least 30 minutes. (Alternatively, place the cream cheese in a microwave-safe medium bowl and microwave on high until just softened, 10 to 15 seconds.)

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of cream cheese as it is completed: Drain 1 (6.5-ounce) can chopped clams. Mince 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons). Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon). Halve and juice the lemon until you have 2 teaspoons.

  3. Finely chop 8 to 10 fresh chives until you have about 1 tablespoon. Add most of the chives (refrigerate the remaining for garnish), 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and 2 to 3 dashes Tabasco to the bowl. Stir and smash with a flexible spatula until combined. Taste and season with more kosher salt, black pepper, and Tabasco as needed.

  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight before serving. Garnish with the remaining chives and serve with potato chips, cucumber slices, or buttery crackers.

Recipe Notes

Fresh clams: To use fresh clams, steam 1 pound clams, and remove the meat from the shells until you have 1/2 cup. Coarsely chop before using.

Make ahead: The dip can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.