Are you craving seafood that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside? If you’ve ever experienced chewy fried clam strips, you know how disappointing it can be. Here at NC Seafood in Raleigh, NC, we believe that every seafood lover deserves the best. That’s why we’re sharing our tried-and-true method for making perfectly crispy breaded clam strips that are never chewy. 

The Secret to Perfectly Crispy Fried Clam Strips

Tips for the Best Fried Clam Strips

Before you start cooking your fried clam strips, here are some key tips to ensure they turn out perfectly crispy every time:

Use Fresh Clams

Fresh clam strips yield the best results. However, high-quality frozen clam strips work well if you can’t find fresh clams.

Maintain Oil Temperature

Ensure your oil is at the right temperature. Too hot, and the strips will burn; too cool, and they’ll absorb too much oil and become soggy.

Don’t overcrowd

Fry the clam strips in small batches to maintain the oil temperature and ensure even cooking.


To make these delicious fried clam strips, you’ll need the following ingredients: 

  • 1 pound clam strips 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 cups cornmeal 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Oil for frying (vegetable or canola)


Prep the Clam Strips

Rinse the clam strips under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel. This ensures that the batter will stick properly.


Place the clam strips in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Let them marinate for at least 30 minutes. This step tenderizes the clams, preventing them from becoming chewy.

Set Up Your Breading Station

Prepare three bowls: one with the flour mixed with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper; a second with the beaten eggs; and a third with the cornmeal.

Bread the Clam Strips

Remove the clam strips from the buttermilk, letting any excess drip off. Dredge each strip in the flour mixture, then dip in the beaten eggs, and finally coat with cornmeal.

Fry the Clam Strips

Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F. Fry the clam strips in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Drain and Serve

Remove the clam strips with a slotted spoon and let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and your favorite dipping sauce.

Pairing Suggestions

For a complete meal, serve your crispy fried clam strips with these delicious sides from NC Seafood: 


The creamy texture and tangy flavor of coleslaw provide the perfect contrast to the crispy bite of breaded clam strips. The cool, refreshing crunch of cabbage and carrots complements the richness of the seafood, creating a balance of flavors and textures on your plate. Plus, coleslaw adds a pop of color to your meal, making it visually appealing as well as delicious.

French Fries

What’s better than fried clam strips? Crispy fried clam strips served alongside golden French fries, of course! These beloved potato treats are a classic accompaniment to seafood dishes, offering a satisfying crunch and a hint of saltiness that perfectly complements the briny flavor of the clams.

Garlic Bread

Consider serving your homemade clam strips with garlic bread for an extra indulgence. The buttery richness of the garlic bread pairs beautifully with the crispy texture of the clam strips, creating a mouthwatering combination that will leave you craving more.

Caesar Salad

If you’re looking for a lighter option to balance out the richness of the fried clam strips, a Caesar salad is the perfect choice. Crisp romaine lettuce, tangy Caesar dressing, and crunchy croutons contrast the savory seafood, adding a burst of freshness and lightness to your meal.

Macaroni and Cheese

For the ultimate comfort food experience, serve your homemade clam strips with a side of macaroni and cheese. The velvety cheese sauce and tender pasta create a creamy texture that pairs beautifully with the crispy exterior of the clam strips. The result is a rich and satisfying meal that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Why This Recipe Works

Marinating in Buttermilk

Marinating the clam strips in buttermilk before breading is a game-changer. The acidity in the buttermilk tenderizes the clams, ensuring they remain soft and juicy after frying. This step is crucial to avoid the dreaded chewiness that can sometimes ruin fried clam strips.

Double Dredging Process

The double dredging process (flour, egg, cornmeal) creates a crispy, golden crust that locks in the clam’s moisture. Each layer plays a role: the seasoned flour adds flavor, the egg wash helps the cornmeal adhere, and the cornmeal provides that satisfying crunch.

Proper Frying Technique

Frying at the right temperature (350°F) ensures that the clam strips cook quickly and evenly. Frying in small batches prevents the oil temperature from dropping, which is essential for achieving a crispy exterior without making the clams greasy.

What Inspired This Recipe

Inspired by the classic Clam Shack Style Fried Clams, our recipe ensures that you get the best fried clam strips right at home. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a seafood novice, this recipe is easy to follow and delivers fantastic results every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell when the clam strips are done? 

The clam strips should be golden brown and crispy. They only need a few minutes in the hot oil, so watch them closely to prevent overcooking. 

Can I use a different kind of flour? 

Yes, you can experiment with different flours, like rice or corn flour, for a slightly different texture and flavor. However, all-purpose flour is the most versatile and gives consistent results. 

What dipping sauces pair well with fried clam strips? 

Tartar sauce is a classic choice, but you can also try cocktail sauce, garlic aioli, or even a spicy remoulade. Lemon wedges are also great for a fresh burst of acidity. 

Can I bake the clam strips instead of frying? 

While frying gives the best crispy texture, you can bake the clam strips as a healthier alternative. Preheat your oven to 400°F, place the breaded clam strips on a baking sheet, and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, flipping halfway through.

Visit NC Seafood for Perfectly Fried Seafood in Raleigh

If cooking at home isn’t on your agenda, or if you want to complement your meal with more seafood options, visit NC Seafood Restaurant in Raleigh. Established in 1991 and located at the North Carolina State Farmers Market, we specialize in Calabash-style seafood, which includes our highly praised fried clam strips, hushpuppies, and creamy coleslaw​. Check out our menu and plan your visit today!

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