New England fried clams were likely invented about one hundred years ago in Essex, Massachusetts, by Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman. Ever since then, thousands of New England eateries (especially the best clam shacks) have played with recipes and cooking methods in an attempt […]
By Katherine Keenan
Jun 27 2023
Best Fried Clams in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Theresa Lauria
New England fried clams were likely invented about one hundred years ago in Essex, Massachusetts, by Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman. Ever since then, thousands of New England eateries (especially the best clam shacks) have played with recipes and cooking methods in an attempt to come up with the best. Here are our favorite places to get the best fried clams in every New England state!
The Woodman family claims that the fried clam was invented here nearly a century ago, and the Woodmans are still cooking them up to this day. Woodman’s success and longevity in the deep-fried clam world is largely due to the lard they use in their deep fryers. The clams are sweet, tender, and crunchy, and they come from local clam beds in Essex and Ipswich, considered by many to be the best in the world.
The fried clams at Lenny and Joe’s are crispy, sweet, and perfectly fried every time — something that similarly large, longstanding seafood shacks have a more difficult time doing. Each order of fried clams is quickly immersed in a succession of two fryers for quick, clean cooking that keeps the clams crunchy and free of lingering cooking oil. These remain the fried clams of choice on the Connecticut shoreline.
Housed in a couple of snappy, dark-blue trailers by the tidal Warren River in eastern Rhode Island, Blount is known as an outstanding purveyor of clam chowder, both through its shacks and its institutional-size gourmet food operation nearby. But the fried clams at the shack are not to be missed. They’re chewy, they’re sweet, and they’re hand-selected from the voluminous amount of clams that Blount Fine Foods receives on a daily basis. Be sure to also order some award-winning chowder while you’re there.
Across from Wallis Sands Beach and just outside of the charming coastal city of Portsmouth, Petey’s Summertine Seafood in Rye is not only iconic, it’s also one of the best places to get fried seafood in New Hampshire. Their fried clams are no exception, perfectly deep fried and exactly what you need after a long day at the beautiful beaches of Rye.
Most people don’t think of fried clams when they think of New England’s only landlocked state, however, if you have a hankering for seafood in Vermont there are certainly some solid options to choose from. Namely Anchor Seafood in Wilmington, where you can find a fresh, hot plate of fried clams that’s sure to satisfy your seafood craving.
The best fried clams in Maine are some of the easiest to find. Bob’s is the first major clam shack you encounter when entering Maine from the south on I-95. Just over the border in the outlet-crazy town of Kittery, Bob’s has been serving up excellent fried fare since the mid-1950s. You may have your fried clams done either in Bob’s original recipe—breaded and fried to a crisp, golden crunch—or you may have them done “Lillian’s way” (the clams dipped in a wash before breading). Or you may have the best of both worlds and order the Clams Two Ways Plate, which features both versions.
Where is your favorite place to get fried clams in New England? Let us know in the comments below!