Easy Grilled Clams with Garlic Parmesan Basil Butter is the summer dinner your family will rave about. Tender littleneck clams cooked in a foil packet with garlic parmesan compound butter yields a flavorful broth that’s fantastic for dipping crusty bread. Easy clean up, too!

Grilled Clams with basil and lemons in a white ramekin from Thesuburbansoapbox.com

Grilled Clams 

Summer is winding down and I am not thrilled about it. Summer is my jam. Barefeet, sandy hair, sun kissed skin….it’s really the best time of year besides Christmas. And the fresh seafood that is easy to find just minutes from my door makes it even that much sweeter.

My entire family feasts on shellfish basically all summer long, it’s lean, healthy and loaded with flavor. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see bushel upon bushel of steamed clams and crabs just about every single week. When I’m home in the suburbs, I still try to have some type of seafood for dinner about once a week and these easy to make Grilled Clams in foil with Garlic Parmesan Basil Butter are my new obsession.

Overhead shot of grilled clams in foil with garlic butter in a foil packet and ramekins.

Grilled clams are so easy to make, you can do it a variety of ways but this recipe in a foil packet is my favorite way because you don’t have to worry about cross contamination if you have a guest with a seafood allergy. And you’re not dirtying a pan because the foil packet is a grill to table way to minimize dishes.

If you want, you can certainly toss the clams right onto the grill grate and cook until they open. The clams steam themselves in the shells without much else but the heat to coax them open. The same thing with the foil packets for these Grilled Clams except you’re capturing all the juices from the clams in the foil packet….and THAT’s flavor heaven right there.

Close up of grilled clams with lemon and basil from TheSuburbanSoapbox.com

How do you get the sand out of clams?

If you skip the step of getting the sand out of your clams, you will end up with gritty, sandy broth which is not good eats. To get your clams to spit out all the sand from the shell, simply soak the clams in cold water for 20-30 minutes. The clams will filter the water as they breath and push out the sand/salt water from the shell.

I like to place my clams in a mesh strainer inside a large bowl so I can lift them right out of the water leaving the sandy water behind. One last quick rinse will ensure that you will be left with sand free clams.

Clams soaking in a glass bowl with water.

How long does it take to cook clams on the grill?

Cooking clams on the grill doesn’t take long at all. Once they are heated through and their juices begin to steam, they will pop open. This process only takes about 5-7 minutes. Any shells that don’t open need to be discarded because the clam may have been dead to begin with.

Also, be sure to discard any shells that may be broken because they may no longer be safe to eat.

Ingredients for Garlic Parmesan Basil Butter.

How do you know if a clam is cooked?

This is so easy….clams are made with their own built in timer….the shell. Once the shell has popped open, they are ready to eat. It’s just like that little plastic timer that comes with your thanksgiving turkey.

How do you know if a clam is bad?

Before steaming the clams, all the shells should be tightly closed. If there are any that are open, give them a light tap….the shell should then close on it’s own. If the shell doesn’t close, the clam is bad and should be removed from that batch.

After steaming clams, any shells that have remained closed or are broken are also not safe to eat and should be removed from the batch.

Clams in foil with compound butter.

Grilled Clams in foil can be eaten any way you like…you can skip the Garlic Parmesan Basil butter altogether if you like but…..don’t do that. It’s fantastic. We also eat our clams just dipped in regular melted butter. But since the Garlic Parmesan Basil butter is so easy to make you should just take the extra step and be exponentially happier.

Grilled clams with grilled bread and lemons.

More Easy Clam Recipes

If you’re not really into the whole steamed clams in foil thing then you should definitely try this super easy to make Clam Chowder, it’s lighter than restaurant clam chowder but just as tasty.

Or you might like these Clams Casino…..it’s really the BEST EVER Clams Casino recipe ever made. Seriously.

Better yet, make it simpler still with these easy, lemon-y Steamed Clams!

Overhead shot of grilled clams with parmesan, basil and grilled bread on a blue background.

This red clams sauce is super fast and easy, too. Or if you’re looking for a full on shellfish extravaganza……this Grilled Seafood Paella is simply magical. So good.

For more family favorites, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Grilled clams with lemon wedges in a white ramekin. From TheSuburbanSoapbox.com

Get the Recipe: Grilled Clams with Garlic Parmesan Basil Butter Recipe

Perfectly portioned, Grilled Clams in foil packets with a garlic parmesan basil butter is the ultimate cookout meal.
5 from 2 votes


  • 5 pounds littleneck clams
  • 8 tbsp salted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp basil, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 8 lemon wedges


  • Place the clams in a bowl with cold water and allow to soak for 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse the remaining sand from the shells.
  • Shape four large pieces of heavy duty foil into a bowl and divide the shells evenly among the four foil bowls. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the butter, cheese, basil, garlic and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. 
  • Divide the butter into four equal pieces. Place one piece of butter into each of the four packets and then fold the edges of the foil together to seal.
  • Place the foil packets on the grill over high heat and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the clams have opened. (You can check by peeking inside the foil packet but be careful because the steam is VERY HOT.)
  • Once the clams are cooked, remove the foil packets from the grill and serve with lemon wedges and grilled bread, if desired.
Calories: 369kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 814mg, Potassium: 337mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1170IU, Vitamin C: 117.2mg, Calcium: 172mg, Iron: 2.8mg