How to do a Cape Cod Clambake

There’s nothing that says “vacation” quite like a Cape Cod clambake, and it’s a lot easier to throw one than you probably think!

There are two ways to cook a Cape Cod clambake: pot-style or pit-style. Pot-style can be done anywhere and involves putting ingredients into pots and cooking them on a stovetop or grill. Another option is the one given by the venerable Howard Mitcham in The Provincetown Seafood Cookbook: Do the clambake outside but in a galvanized steel garbage can (use bicarbonate of soda and warm water to clean it first), and create “bundles” of ingredients—one bundle per guest, containing one portion of each of the ingredients.

Clambake Beach Provincetown
Fire Dunes Provincetown
We at ptownie prefer pit-style, the “real Cape way,” using rocks, seaweed and wooden boxes all steamed under a canvas tarp right on the beach. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Heat a layer of rocks under a pile of burning wood.
  2. After three or four hours, when the rocks are hot enough, add a layer of seaweed.
  3. Put your clambake (see below) in a wooden box and cover with a tarp.
  4. Steam for ¾ hour.

What this gives you is the Cape Cod clambake’s smoky, briny signature flavor.

Clam Bake Recipe
Cheers Beer Provincetown
You will need…

  • Littleneck clams (optionally add mussels, if you’d like), not the larger cherrystones (which are tougher than the littlenecks)
  • Optional: lobsters (please refer to our article “How to cook a lobster” to learn how to kill them humanely before cooking)
  • Whole ears of corn with husks and silks removed
  • Sausages (around here we use linguica, a Portuguese sausage; kielbasa also works)
  • Red bliss potatoes
  • Onions to taste
  • Seasoned salt or Old Bay seasoning
  • Cold water (or chicken/vegetable stock, beer, or white wine) if you’re doing your clambake in a pot
  • Melted butter
  • Side dishes to taste (cole slaw and potato salad are perfect)
  • Watermelon for dessert, of course!

You’ll notice we don’t give quantities here; it depends on how many people you’re feeding.

Of course, you can also spare yourself the work and have your clambake catered. Art’s Dune Tours does a fabulous clambake on the beach; all you have to do it sit back, relax, and eat up!

And then enjoy this quintessential Cape Cod experience!

There’s more where that came from! Ptownie has more to share about our special town at land’s end. Check out our Guide to Weed in Provincetown, MA!