I've been searching all over the stores in my area for clam juice so I can make some gumbo or clam chowder, and can't find a single can of it anywhere.

What's the closest replacement to clam juice that would keep roughly the same flavor?

  • Gumbo most certainly doesn't need clam juice. Not sure about your chowder though.
    – NadjaCS
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:19
  • There's a recipe for Gumbo I saw online that used clam juice and it was from some restaurant, so it's why i mentioned the clam juice for gumbo
    – yuritsuki
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:21
  • 1
    When I get home I'll look in my New Orleans cookbooks, but you could start here for some authentic gumbo recipes. nola.com/food/gumbo
    – NadjaCS
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:41
  • 1
    As a note, the stuff I've bought comes in a glass jar, not a can.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 7:20
  • 2
    As someone born and mostly raised in New Orleans, I'm still quite sure that an authentic gumbo doesn't need clam juice. Of course, trying to match a specific recipe is a different thing, and the actual substitution can be useful for other recipes. But gumbo really can be made of a lot of things, just needs a roux, trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper) and okra and/or file powder to be gumbo. The rest is up to the cook's tastes and what is available.
    – NadjaCS
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 17:09

3 Answers 3


Cook's Thesaurus recommends fish stock or 50:50 chicken stock & water.

As I don't tend to make fish stock, I'd probably either use shrimp stock (take the shells and heads, simmer in water for about an hour), or crab stock (just use the shells, and maybe the smaller legs if you didn't extract the meat from them)

If you can find it, some stores will carry 'seafood bullion' or 'shrimp bullion'. As they tend to be salty, I'd probably only use them at half strength, like the recommendation for substituting chicken stock.

In a real pinch, you might be able to use water + fish sauce, but I have no idea what the proportions would be. (I'd probably compare sodium levels, and try to match that. So 1400mg/TB vs. 120-280mg/2oz ... so averages 800mg/cup, so about 1.5tsp fish sauce + water to replace a cup of clam juice).


Most likely a fish stock will do.

But you can also just make it yourself if you want, and have the ingredients (i.e.: clams) available to you: As far as I know, it's just the strained liquid (to remove sand and other particles) from steamed or cooked clams, without the flesh of the clams.

Buy yourself some clams (about a kilogram a person, unshelled1), prepare them, remove clams, safe liquid, eat clams that night, eat gumbo the next :)

1The amount given is for mussels, you may need more or less for clams, but I would guess it's about the same


This is not an alternative ingredient, but an alternative product to buy to get the ingredient.

Minced clams

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