New Haven Clam Pizza Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 20 min.
Transport yourself to New Haven, Connecticut, with this white clam pizza recipe. The combination of smoky bacon, briny clams and bold garlic is nothing short of perfection!

Updated: Dec. 12, 2023

For a well-balanced pizza that melds the familiar with the unfamiliar, don’t miss this clam pizza. It’s an easy pizza recipe for a weeknight dinner or a party appetizer.

Mollusks may sound like an odd addition to pizza, but clam pizza is as delicious as it is unique. Briny clams take on a beautiful sweetness as they roast in the oven, and a white pizza base lets the rich flavors shine. You don’t need any tomatoes or sauce on this pizza. Instead, garlic, bacon, cheese and oregano come together to create a smoky, robust pizza base.

Origins of White Clam Pizza

White clam pizza was born at Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut. The city of New Haven has its own regional pizza style, known as “apizza,” which features a thin crust that’s both crispy and chewy. It’s cooked in a very hot pizza oven (like Neapolitan pizza), where it develops charred edges that some might say look burnt. As the story goes, sometime in the 1960s Pepe’s started putting littleneck clams atop their New Haven-style pizza pies, and the rest is history: White clam pizza became famous.

Ingredients for Clam Pizza

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  • Homemade pizza dough: We make a quick pizza dough with active dry yeast, warm water, sugar, all-purpose flour, salt and canola oil. It’s the perfect amount to fit a 14-inch pizza pan.
  • Canned clams: Drain the clams so the excess liquid doesn’t make the pizza soggy. Save the juice for the next time you make clam chowder or creamy clam linguine.
  • Bacon: Bacon isn’t a traditional clam pizza topping, but we love how it pairs with clams. The salty, smoky bacon accentuates the clam’s natural sweetness. Cook the bacon ahead of time (and consider baking bacon in the oven to prevent all that greasy stovetop splatter).
  • Garlic: This robust, aromatic ingredient enhances the pizza, making it more complex and savory.
  • Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses: The Parmesan is sharp and nutty, and the mozzarella melts perfectly to make every bite rich and creamy.

Directions

Step 1: Make the pizza dough

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, and let stand for five minutes. Add the flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Cover the dough, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, 15 to 20 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: If you substitute quick-rise or instant-rise yeast, you don’t need to proof the yeast in water. The tiny granules can be mixed directly into the flour. However, you will want to increase the water’s temperature to between 120° and 130°.

Step 2: Shape the dough

Punch the dough down. Press it into the bottom and up the sides of a greased 14-inch pizza pan. Build up the edges slightly. Prick the dough several times with a fork.

Step 3: Bake the dough

Bake the dough for six to eight minutes.

Step 4: Add the toppings

Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the crust in the following order: clams, bacon crumbles, garlic, grated Parmesan, oregano and shredded mozzarella.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted. Cut into wedges.

Editor’s Tip: Drizzle the pizza with olive oil before baking to boost its richness. You can also finish clam pizza with fresh chopped parsley and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Recipe Variations

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  • Use different cheeses: The original clam pizza contained no Parmesan or mozzarella cheeses—just 100% freshly grated pecorino Romano. You can also substitute other hard cheeses, such as Grana Padano.
  • Skip the bacon: The bacon complements the flavors nicely, but you can skip it to make a pescatarian-friendly pizza.
  • Top with greens: Give the pizza a vibrant color and slightly bitter finish by topping it with baby arugula after it bakes. You can also add sauteed leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli rabe, kale or spinach. Add the cooked greens to the pizza before it goes into the oven.

How to Store Clam Pizza

Leftover clam pizza is good for up to four days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can reheat leftover pizza on a preheated baking sheet in the oven or in a skillet on the stovetop.

Can you freeze clam pizza?

We don’t recommend freezing cooked clam pizza. However, when stored in an airtight container, you can freeze the pizza dough for up to one month. To use, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight. Then bake the pizza as directed.

Clam Pizza Tips

What type of clams should you use to make clam pizza?

Littleneck clams are the traditional choice for clam pizza. Our recipe uses two cans (6-1/2 ounces each) of chopped clams, drained of excess liquid. You can substitute frozen clams, but drain them well to avoid a soggy pizza. If you’re starting with fresh clams, cook the clams first (the method used in our crumb-topped clams recipe would work well). Remove the cooked clams from the shells, give them a rough chop, and add them to the pizza.

What do you serve with white clam pizza?

An easy side salad pairs best with white clam pizza. Caesar salad or Mediterranean salads with tomatoes and olives are crowd-pleasing options.

Clam Pizza

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 20 min
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cans (6-1/2 ounces each) chopped clams, drained
  • 4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt and oil; beat until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Punch dough down. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 14-in. pizza pan; build up edges slightly. Prick dough several times with a fork.
  3. Bake at 425° for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over crust in order listed. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. Cut into wedges.

Nutrition Facts

1 piece: 268 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated fat), 33mg cholesterol, 716mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 13g protein.

This appetizer is the perfect start to any meal. It's always been a big hit with our family and friends. —Susan Seymour, Valatie, New York
Recipe Creator