How To Clean Razor Clams

How To Clean Razor Clams

Razor Clams. They look pretty funny.

How funny you say? So funny that they look pretty daunting to prepare for your meal. Also, they look like they could be the subject to a lot of third grader's jokes. I admit I giggled a few times just looking at these things. Comedy aside, these things are delicious and have a lot of meat. So even though they take some work to clean, they are definitely worth the hassle.

These beauties were a gift from a friend that is a true Northwest adventurer. Oh the stories he could tell. He harvested these from Grayland Beach on the coast on Washington. He's also the one that taught me how to clean them, so you'll be in good hands.

Before we begin, I want to let you know that this won't be pretty. You've been warned.

These clams were pretty easy to separate from the shell, but I'll show you a trick to pop them open if they are more stuck.

Get a pot of hot water, and plop the clam in there. The shell will pop open and you can extract the meat. Be careful not to leave the clam in there too long, cooking it and making it tough. It should only take around 20 seconds.

Immediately drop the clam into ice water so that it doesn't cook.

I have a lot of clams here, and I like to be thorough when I'm cleaning an ingredient, so I like to put them on ice when I'm working on them. What's the point of going through all this trouble if they're gonna spoil! 

Note that, just like many things in life, there a number of ways to clean these. Also, I'm using my garbage disposal to get rid of the waste. If you want, you can toss it in the trash. Just make sure to take it out asap. Think of the worst smell you've ever smelled. It will smell like that in a few hours.

Alrighty! First step is to separate the clam meat from the shell. Shimmy your fingers in-between the meat and the shell and it should pop right off. 

Use your kitchen scissors to snip off the dark tip of the siphon. That's the skinner, longer piece.

Now, cut lengthwise starting at the thing that looks like a "zipper" all the way through the siphon.

Wash out the sand that's in there. Nothing like a bit of sand to ruin a fantastic recipe.

There's another opening that needs to be cut through because there will probably be sand in there too.

Rinse, rinse, rinse!

Let's separate the siphon from the digger! The digger is shorter.

Remove the tan gills, stomach and digger to separate the clam into two.

Look at that, you're halfway there! This piece is best for your clam chowder. Honestly, any piece will be fine for your clam recipes, but if you have options, now you know.

Pop this into some ice water while you're handling the other razor clams.

Let's deal with the digger (the second piece of the clam). Do an initial rinse to see what you're working with, you might run into a clear rod that looks like plastic. That's used as a digestive enzyme, that helps break down the food the razor clam eats. Enough science talk, get rid of it. 

Cut the gills and stomach from the digger. You might end up with the slams waste, just put on your big girl pants and rinse all of that out.

Cut open the digger lengthwise and wash out any sand and the dark vein you might see. Yea, that's poop too.

Rinse, rinse, rinse!

There will be soft material, that's totally fine, on one side and it'll be smooth on the other. This part is perfect for some fried clam strips!

Put this into some ice water. I separate the two pieces you get from the razor clams. These are now ready for your clam recipes. Freeze them, or cook immediately to preserve the freshness.

Oh yea! The shells! They're so pretty. If you've spent the time to clean the razor clams, you might as well get the gift of jeweled shells.

The razor clams say thank you for taking the time to make sure they are properly ready for your recipe and would like to gift you with their pretty homes. They know you'll take good care of it.

Oh, you'd like a recipe for these delicious things? Coming right up :)


How To Clean Razor Clams

Razor Clams
Hot water
Bowl of ice water
Kitchen Scissors


  1. If clams are tightly shut, dip them in hot water for a few seconds until the shell pops open. Quickly submerge the clam into ice water for the meat doesn't get tough. 
  2. Keep all clams in ice water so they don't spoil while you're cleaning. Separate the meat from the shell.
  3. Using kitchen scissors, cut off the dark tip of the skinnier siphon. 
  4. Cut lengthwise starting at the "zipper" all the way through the siphon. 
  5. Cut through second opening in the siphon, all the way through the siphon. Wash out any sand. 
  6. Cut around the gills and stomach to separate the digger from the rest of the clam, then cut the gills, stomach clear rod from the digger.
  7. Cut open the digger lengthwise and wash out any sand and the dark vein. These are now ready for your razor clam recipe.