Clam Dip
Clam Dip

Clam Dip is a cream cheese and sour cream spread studded with shredded clams and spiced with Old Bay for a kick – the perfect party snack.

In this recipe

  • What is Old Bay Spice?
  • Best clams for clam dip
  • Which cream cheese to use?
  • Exchange and substitution of ingredients
  • recipe variations
  • Make Ahead Clam Dip
  • How to scale clam dip
  • serving suggestions
  • Storage Instructions
  • More party dip recipes

Clam dip is a quick and easy party appetizer you can make for a large gathering, whether it’s a backyard BBQ, sporting event, holiday, or other celebration.

This easy creamy dip with slivers of clam gets the Maryland treatment with the addition of Old Bay Seasoning. Cream cheese and sour cream form the base of the dip, while tangy and tangy prepared horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon, shallots, chives and parsley round it out for a very special party dip.

What is Old Bay Spice?

Old Bay Seasoning is a spice blend created in Baltimore by Gustav Brunn, a refugee from a German concentration camp. The spice blend was formulated for seafood, specifically crab and shrimp. It’s still particularly popular for Maryland blue crab boils and crab cakes.

The main ingredient is celery salt, followed by a secret recipe of “spices” and red pepper, black pepper, and paprika. It adds salty, warming savoryness and a tangy kick to this clam dip recipe.

This condiment shouldn’t just be limited to seafood, though — it can liven up fried foods like french fries or fried green tomatoes, mixed with butter for corn on the cob or popcorn, or added to or on the rim of drinks like a Bloody Mary.

Best clams for clam dip

I always use canned clams for this dip because they’re easier to work with than fresh clams, more convenient, and less expensive.

Canned clams are cooked and packaged either as whole clams, chopped, or chopped in either water or clam juice. Preservatives, salt and sugar are sometimes added to the clam juice.

I prefer Snow’s Bumblebee Chopped Clams for this recipe because they have a stronger clam flavor than other varieties I’ve tried. The chopped mussels are irregular in size – some chopped and some larger pieces, which gives the dip an interesting texture. Also, the recipient of a larger shell will feel like they have won a prize. Any clams deemed too large can always be chopped smaller, although I didn’t find it necessary.

If you want to know more about canned clams, how to cook with them, and how they differ from fresh clams, this guide has you covered.

Which cream cheese to use?

My favorite cream cheese is a block of Philadelphia cream cheese. Cream cheese blocks should soften within an hour at room temperature. You can speed up the softening by dicing the cheese and placing it on a plate in a single layer.

If you’re really in a hurry, you can unwrap the block and transfer it to a microwave-safe plate and microwave in short 10-second bursts until tender. I haven’t tried using already-whipped cream cheese because honestly it’s more expensive, so I never have it on hand. I imagine it would work if you have that on hand.

Exchange and substitution of ingredients

This dip is quite forgiving of substitutes, so rummage through your pantry before heading to the store. Here are some swaps and subs you may already have in your pantry:

  • If you don’t have Old Bay seasoning, you can mimic the key flavors with celery salt or a mixture of ground celery seeds and salt, crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, paprika, and black pepper.
  • Old Bay Seasoning is the main source of salt in this recipe. If you feel like it needs more salt but is getting too spicy for your palate, add kosher salt to taste.
  • Conversely, if you want more zing but it’s getting too salty, add a few squirts of hot sauce or pinches of cayenne pepper or coarsely crushed black peppercorns.
  • I prefer the freshness of the lemon for both the zest and the juice, but can substitute white wine vinegar.
  • Add garlic powder or onion powder for or in addition to shallots and chives.
  • Replace shallot with red onion.
  • Replace the chives with spring onions.
  • Substitute mayo for the sour cream, although you may want to use less mayo. While many dips substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream, I’m not a fan of this substitution unless it’s an herbal dip.
  • If you have a head of celery, chop some of the leaves for another layer of celery flavor.
  • Swap canned smoked clams for the plain ones.
  • If you’re using whipped cream cheese, you’ll get a double dose of allium and herbal flavor by using flavored cream cheese like garlic, chives, or onions.

recipe variations

If you ditch the Old Bay Seasoning and horseradish from this recipe, you have a pretty simple clam dip. You can also take out the chopped mussels here and use other seafood.

Feel free to use other clam or seafood based dishes as inspiration for variations on a dip. Ditch out the old bay leaf spice and horseradish and add the following ingredients for new twists on a dip:

  • Play with clam chowder by using grated garlic, finely chopped celery and chopped bacon.
  • Make this more like the French version of tartar sauce by adding chopped tarragon, capers and gherkins.
  • To make a shrimp dip: Remove the chopped clams and add chopped, cooked, peeled, small pink shrimp, also known as salad shrimp
  • For a smoked salmon dip, add shredded smoked salmon.

Make Ahead Clam Dip

This dip benefits from being made ahead of time to give the flavors time to blend and the dip to thicken. Make this up to 2-3 days in advance and store covered in the fridge. Garnish just before serving.

How to scale clam dip

This recipe makes a generous three cups, so you should be able to feed about 10 people, possibly more depending on how many other dishes are being served at your gathering. If you need more, you can easily double or triple the recipe.

serving suggestions

French fries! Bold, thick, ridged, or kettle chips are a classic pairing with clam dip. Crackers and crudités are also popular.

Storage Instructions

Store the dip in an airtight container for up to three days.

More party dip recipes

  • Sweet potato dip with white beans
  • Buffalo chicken dip
  • Slow Cooker Spinach Feta Dip
  • Hot Reuben dip

mussel dip

preparation time
10 hrs

cool time
2 hours

total time
12 hours

10 servings

3 cups of dip

This clam dip is best when refrigerated for several hours or a day or two to allow the flavors to blend and the dip to set. If serving the dip immediately, use half the sour cream, adding more as needed to achieve desired thickness.


  • 1 (8th Ounce) block cream cheeseroom temperature

  • 1 big shallotchopped

  • 1/4 Cup chopped parsley

  • 3 tablespoon chopped chives

  • 1 tablespoon Lemon peel

  • 1 tablespoon Freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 3 teaspoon Old Bay seasoningor to taste

  • 6 teaspoon prepared horseradishdrained

  • 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 1 Cup sour cream

  • 3 (6 1/2 ounce) cans chopped clams in clam juice, drained with 1 tbsp clam juice set aside

  • Chopped parsleyfor garnish


  • thick sliced ​​potato chips, crackeror raw food


  1. Make the clam dip:

    In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth. A whisk works well if the cream cheese is very soft.

    Add shallots, parsley, chives, lemon zest and juice, Old Bay, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and sour cream.

  2. Add the clams and clam juice:

    If any of the clams are too big for your liking, cut them smaller. It’s nice to have a mix of different sizes – it feels like you’ve won a prize if you occasionally get a larger piece of shell.

    Add the clams and 1 tablespoon reserved clam juice. The clam juice adds more clam flavor to the dip, but it’s okay if you don’t add it.

    Blend the dip on low speed until well combined.

  3. Taste and season the dip:

    Taste the dip and adjust the seasonings if necessary. The Old Bay is the main source of salt, so add more if needed, or add kosher salt if the dip is already at a good spice level for you.

  4. Chill the clam dip:

    Cover and refrigerate the dip for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

  5. Garnish and serve the dip:

    Sprinkle with the reserved parsley just before serving with chips, crackers or raw vegetables.

nutritional information (per serving)
214 calories
13g Fat
8g carbohydrates
16g protein
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