from my Kitchen to Yours

Retro Clam Dip

Retro Clam Dip

This Retro Clam Dip recipe is so retro, I think it’s time for it to come back. With a few “modifications”.


 The making of – Retro Clam Dip

A printer-friendly recipe card is located at the bottom of this post


Retro Clam Dip


Really, Lindy – you are going to take us back to the days of clam dip? I mean, really?

Yes, yes I am. And I’m going to tell you why.

Because I had forgotten how good clam dip is.

Until I made it…

It was a long long week of travel – with a wedding thrown in at the tail end as we were driving home from our second of three different events.

To say BB and me were both tired would be an understatement. We were beyond. But we had promised to show up for the wedding and while we declined to stay for the dinner and dancing (can you say asleep at the wheel?) we did show up for their celebration of marriage. We arrived home, a little hungry.

I don’t want to go out, but I’m too tired to make a huge effort at dinner – so I decide on a simple Garlic Clam Spaghetti. I had just bought a new “gourmet” jar of clams at our little Italian deli and thought that would be nice. Dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Sounds great.

Well, after I borrowed a head of garlic from my neighbor.

It’s hard to make Garlic Clam Spaghetti without garlic.

There were a lot of clams in that jar of clams, and I only needed about half to get my pasta on the table. So now I have half a jar of clams, with little to no liquid, sitting in my refrigerator, daring me to think of something delicious to make with them.

Clam what?


Retro Clam Dip


Taking the Way-Back Machine to Retro Clam Dip

My brain jumped back into the way-back machine – just like Mr. Peabody and Sherman, I was back in the 1960’s – the days of my youth – and everybody had clam dip at their party.

I mean EVERYBODY. It was so popular in the day that once it was highlighted on an NYC radio station and the stores sold out of canned clams in less than 24 hours.

It was that popular.

As I was only a young child at the time, I couldn’t really remember exactly what was in it. I’m standing in the grocery store making it up in my head I grab sour cream as my base.  I didn’t look up any recipe until after the fact. So this recipe is my modified, from memory, more or less, authentic Retro Clam Dip recipe.

Most recipes for Clam Dip use Cream cheese.  I think the original might have been a Philadelphia cream cheese recipe.

But my switch out to sour cream makes it so much more “dippable”.


The Ingredients 

  • Canned Clams –  As I said, I had some left-over clams with just a smattering of juice. Most recipes I found used 1 or more teaspoons of the clam juice, but then again, they were using it to thin the cream cheese to a dipping constancy. As I was using sour cream, it was already pretty dippable so the scant 1/2 teaspoon I had worked. Use more if you want more clam flavor. The clams should be minced clams. Smaller is better for dipping. Go ahead and give them a chop if so desired.
  • Grated Onion – This, in my mind, gives the dish a great zing of fresh flavor. Grating an onion is not a particularly pleasant task. If you hate chopping them, imagine grating them. I used my fine cheese grater and highly recommend you throw the onion into the freezer for 10 minutes or more to minimize the amount of onion spray. You could also use the rough side (those outward protruding holes) of a box grater.
  • Worcheshire Sauce, Tabasco, and Lemon Juice – Use to your taste. They all add great elements of flavor, it just depends on how much of each you want. Worcheshire adds a deepness, Tabasco heat (duh), and lemon juice fresh acid.
  • Smoked Paprika – Rounds out the hard edges and adds, well, smokiness. You could also try some Chipotle chili.

Zing and pizazz.

Tips and Storage

  • Kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container, it only gets better after a day.
  • But don’t keep it more than 3. As you know, neither fish nor company is good for more than 3 days.


retro clam dip


So take a step back into the time machine, when life was kinder, and gentler in some ways, and harder in others. But a party is a party, so party on…

Enjoy this dip with:

Homemade Baked Potato Chips

3-Way Bean Dip with Crudites


Yield: 1 cup

Retro Clam Dip

Retro Clam Dip

This recipe for Retro Clam Dip will take you back to the days of old. 1960's old that is.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 8 ounces sour cream (regular or low-fat)
  • 1/2 cup (about 1 small can) minced clams (juice reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon Worcheshire Sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 lemon, juiced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon reserved clam juice, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dash smoked paprika, (optional)


Step 1

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together. Taste and adjust flavors. Best if allowed to sit, refrigerated, for at least an hour or so to allow the flavors to mingle. Serve with potato chips, Ritz crackers or fresh cut veggies.


Best if left in the refrigerator for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.

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