This Baked Clam Dip features the flavors of clams casino! With buttery onions, Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan and mozzarella, it's always a hit! Make this canned clam appetizer for the holidays or when you need a delicious seafood dip.
I have to introduce you to my family's favorite appetizer, hands down. This Baked Clam Dip stole our hearts nearly two decades ago, and we can't picture life without it.
You're going to want to save this "clams casino dip" recipe, as it's sometimes called.
That's because it features buttery onions, Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan and mozzarella. If you're looking for a fabulous hot clam dip without cream cheese, you've come to the right place!
And if you need more ideas, don't miss these 63 Italian Appetizer Recipes!
Although traditional clams casino calls for bacon, this dip works better without it. We don't want it too salty.
Clams: We're using canned, chopped clams for a convenient, economical option. If you want to use fresh clams, you can make Beer-Steamed Littleneck Clams and chop the clam meat before using it in this recipe.
Clam Juice: We’re using this in place of the liquid from the canned clams. Bottled clam juice has less salt and no additives (check the label.) Look for it near the canned clams at the grocery store.
Bread Crumbs: Start with plain bread crumbs (storebought or homemade) and turn them into Italian bread crumbs by adding garlic powder, dried basil, salt and pepper.
Mozzarella: The cheese melts better if you start with a chunk of mozzarella and shred it yourself. But, I've made it in the past with pre-shredded mozzarella.
If you've only got store-bought Italian bread crumbs (already mixed), you won't need to add all of the seasonings.
How to make it
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
- Cook the onions in melted butter.
- Add the clams, clam juice, bread crumbs, cheeses, lemon juice and seasonings to a pie dish (affiliate link) and stir to combine.
- Add the buttery, cooked onions to the pie dish.
- Stir to combine and spread the dip evenly. Sprinkle with mozzarella and paprika.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Draining and rinsing canned clams gets rid of excess sodium and unwanted chemicals. Bottled clam juice is a great replacement.
- For parties, you can double the recipe and bake it in a 9x13 pan. Or, prep two pie dishes of this and bake one while leaving the other covered in the refrigerator. When the first pan is almost getting low, you can bake the second one to serve when it’s hot.
What to serve with it
This Baked Clam Dip with Mozzarella works perfectly as a starter for clam bakes, Thanksgiving or an Italian Christmas Eve dinner. It's also been our go-to New Year's Eve appetizer for years.
Serve it with raw carrot sticks, red pepper strips (my favorite!), crostini (toasted baguette slices) or lightly salted crackers. You don't want anything too salty with it.
But...I have to tell you a secret. This warm clam dip makes the best Friday night meal! I make a double batch and plop that pan smack in the middle of our table with all of our dipping accessories.
It makes my hubby...wait for it...happy as a clam!! Haha!!
Frequently asked questions
Once it's cooled off, cover and refrigerate any leftover dip in the refrigerator for up to three days. It reheats well in the microwave.
Once you open a can of clams, it should be used within three days. You can prep the dip a day ahead without baking it. When you're ready to bake it, let the pan sit out on the counter for 30 minutes, then bake as directed.
I haven't tried it, but that should work. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking it as directed.
More recipes like this
- White Wine Clam Sauce for Pasta
- Creamy New England Clam Chowder
- Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta
- Gluten-Free Crab Cakes
If you try this Baked Clam Dip, please leave a comment and a rating!
Baked Clam Dip
- 4 ounces mozzarella, shredded (divided use; reserve 3 tablespoons to sprinkle on top)
- ⅓ cup chopped onion (from one small onion)
- 6 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams (drained & rinsed)
- 1 cup bottled clam juice (shake bottle before pouring)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from one lemon)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
Italian Bread Crumbs (See notes if using store-bought.)
- ⅔ cup plain bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons shredded mozzarella
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Shred or grate the mozzarella and add it to a pie dish or deep dish baker. Set aside three tablespoons of the mozzarella for later. Grate the Parmesan, if needed.
- Prepare the Italian bread crumb mixture right in the pie dish. Add the bread crumbs and seasonings and stir to combine.
- Peel and finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet or a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook them until soft, at least five minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the onions are cooking, add the clams, clam juice, Parmesan, garlic powder, hot sauce, black pepper and lemon juice to the pie dish with the mozzarella and bread crumb mixture. Stir to combine.
- Add the cooked onions and butter to the pie dish and stir to combine with the rest of the dip. Use the back of your spoon to smooth the dip evenly in the pan.
- Sprinkle the remaining three tablespoons of mozzarella on top, followed by ¼ teaspoon paprika. (You can pinch the paprika between your fingers to sprinkle it on evenly.)
- Bake the dip for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly and heated through. Let the dip cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve with carrot sticks, red pepper strips, toasted pita wedges, crostini, Melba Toast or lightly salted club crackers. It's best not to use anything salty.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days. The Baked Clam Dip reheats well in the microwave.
- Draining and rinsing the canned clams gets rid of excess sodium and unwanted chemicals. Bottled clam juice has less salt and no additives (check the label.) The juice should be located near the canned clams in the grocery store.
- If using store-bought Italian bread crumbs, you don't need to add the seasonings listed in the bread crumbs section of this recipe.
- You can double this recipe and bake it in a 9x13 pan, if you wish.
- Once you open a can of clams, it should be used within three days. You can prep the dip a day ahead without baking it. When you're ready to bake it, let the pan sit out on the counter for 30 minutes, then bake as directed.
- I haven't tried freezing the unbaked clam dip, but that should work. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and thick foil. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator, then bake uncovered, as directed.
(Recipe Source: Inspired by a hot clam dip recipe posted in an online forum years ago. Originally published here on September 17, 2014 and updated now with new photos, additional information and an improved recipe.)