What Is the Different Between Clams, Mussels, and Oysters?

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There aren’t many foods that taste even nearly as good as fish. There’s nothing quite like it, whether you’re eating canned tuna or sushi.

If you’ve never had mussels or clams that melt in your lips, let’s just say you’re losing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Apart from that, many seafood aficionados get oysters, mussels, and clams mixed up. Although most individuals are aware that they taste different, they are unsure of what additional differences exist beyond their unique flavor characteristics.

Without further ado, here’s all you need to know about oysters, mussels, and clams.

What Are Oysters?

Oyster refers to various groups of bivalve mollusks that live in seawater. The word bivalve refers to a mollusc with a compressed body contained in a hinged shell.

Humans either adore or despise oysters. They seldom get mehs.

Apart from the assumption that they should be enjoyed raw with a bottle of champagne and that pregnant women should avoid them, there is a lot about these mollusks that may surprise you.

Types of Oysters

To begin, there are five distinct species of oysters and over 100 kinds that come from them. The Olympia Oyster, Atlantic Oyster, European Flat Oyster, Kumamoto Oyster, and Pacific (or Japanese) Oyster are all available. Apart from the water in which they develop, the shells of these five diverse types of bivalves are what distinguishes them.

Olympia oysters feature tiny, round, smooth shells with a hint of iridescence. Kumamotos resemble Olympias, but their shells are paler. Atlantic oysters are often teardrop or comma shaped and extremely huge.

The European flat, on the other hand, is similarly big and has a straight shell with fine ridges. The Pacific oyster resembles the European type, but with smaller, more wavy casings.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about oysters. These mollusks each filter between 30 and 50 liters of ocean water every day. Consider how much water a whole bed of them can purify. This makes them not only delicious but also good for the environment.

Health Benefits

You’ve undoubtedly heard that oysters are excellent for increasing your sexual desire. Although this may be accurate, it does not give the whole story.

These delectable mollusks are high in zinc, which not only improves reproductive health but also strengthens your immune system and bones. It may also be used to treat rashes and acne.


Have you ever wondered why people say you shouldn’t eat oysters in months that don’t begin with the letter r? Consider the months of May, June, July, and August. It’s because it’s much more difficult to keep them fresh in the summer heat, especially before you refrigerate them.

There’s also the fact that bivalves spawn at this time, giving them a weak and watery taste. Not to add that oysters taste better in cooler water. That’s when they really flourish.

If you thought the flavor of champagne with oysters was out of this world, wait till you try them with absinthe. There’s something really intriguing about pairing these saline, mineral-rich mollusks with absinthe’s soft mint and fennel, which breathes fresh life into each taste in a distinctive manner.

What Are Clams?

A clam is a species of bivalve mollusc that dwells on the ocean bottom, however they may also be found in freshwater. Clams are a terrific way to ease into the mollusc family of shellfish if you are taking small steps.

While you may eat them raw and should be aware of the hazards involved with doing so, they are excellent candidates for breading, frying, and grilling.

Types of Clams

There are over 150 distinct varieties of edible clams, but only a few of them are commercially accessible. These are some of the most frequent ones you’ll find at your local farmers market.

Geoduck Clams

They are quite popular in the Northwest Pacific and Asia, and are pronounced gooey-ducks. They’re chewy, almost crunchy, and have a great briny taste. The two most prevalent geoduck clam species are Pacific geoducks and Atlantic geoducks.

With shells ranging in length from seven to nine inches and siphons reaching four feet in length, the two are practically indistinguishable. This makes them the world’s biggest burrowing clams.

Hard Clams

There are two primary types of quahogs. Northern quahogs reside on the Atlantic coast’s intertidal zones between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They feature shells that range in size from 1.5 to 3.5 inches.

Southern quahogs may also be found in the intertidal zones between the West Indies and the Chesapeake Bay. They may reach a length of six inches.

Raw, grilled, filled, or broiled hard clams are all options.

Mahogany Clams

These clams, sometimes known as ocean quahogs, are found in the North Atlantic area, mainly near Maine. Its shells are round and dark brown or black in color.

They mature after six years and may live for up to 100 years. They have a significantly richer taste than their hard clam siblings and are ideal for pasta preparations.

Manila Clams

These mollusks, sometimes known as steamer clams on the West Coast, are a species of tiny, hard-shell clam found in the Pacific Ocean. As compared to other clam kinds, they have a sweeter flavor and are less briny.

You may eat them raw, steamed, or in a variety of pasta preparations.

Razor Clams

The shells of these creatures are fragile and gape open. The shells of Pacific razor clams are oval in form and contain long, projecting siphons. They are soft and delicious, and may be eaten uncooked.

Atlantic razors, on the other hand, have a softer taste than Pacific razors and shells that may be up to eight inches long. They work best when grilled or cooked.

Soft-Shell Clams

They feature grayish-white shells that are thin and fragile, with lengthy siphons. They may grow to be six inches long and are finest eaten steamed or deep-fried with butter. The bigger clams are ideal for soup.

Surf Clams

Surf clams account for about 33% of all clams collected in the United States. They like deep water and may be found mostly off the coast of New Jersey. They may grow up to six inches long and are ideal for clam chowder.

Washington Clams

These mollusks, often known as butter clams, are most recognized for their melt-in-your-mouth texture. There are two varieties of Washington clams that you may encounter.

The Northern butter clam may be found in the seas between San Francisco and Alaska. It has a diameter of up to four inches.

The bigger Southern butter clam may grow to be seven inches long and has purple lines within its shell. They are regularly caught in the seas between Northern California’s Humboldt Bay and Baja California, Mexico.

What Are Mussels?

Mussels are another kind of bivalve mollusc that lives in saltwater. They may be found along the open Atlantic coast between Virginia and the Arctic Ocean. They feature navy blue-black hinged shells that are long and oval-shaped.

Freshwater mussel species exist and have a similar look to saltwater mussels, although they are seldom eaten. The vast majority of mussels accessible today are cultivated commercially.

If you see a gleaming pile of shells at your local grocery store or seafood market, they are most likely live mussels. The ones with firmly enclosed shells are the finest to purchase. Before cooking, always eliminate those that have missing or gaping shells.

Types of Mussels

Depending on where you reside and the season, mussels come in a variety of varieties. These are some examples of common ones.

  • Mussels from the Mediterranean They are often available in the summer and autumn. Its shells are fairly broad and their flesh is quite fat.
  • Mussels in the color blue These are available throughout the winter and spring seasons. Although they are much smaller in size than their Mediterranean counterparts, the rich richness of their taste more than compensates for this deficit.
  • Mussels with green lips They have huge shells with a green tint around the edges. They are widely grown in New Zealand and other regions of Asia.

Similarities Between Oysters, Mussels vs Clams

Once we’ve discussed how clams, mussels, and oysters vary, here’s a list of the characteristics they share.

  • Their bodies are soft and unstructured.
  • These are mollusks that may be eaten.
  • They function as filter feeders.
  • They are classified as invertebrates.
  • Their bodies are protected by hinged shells.
  • Pearls are produced by certain species.

Nutritional Benefits of Oysters, Mussels vs Clams

Here’s why eating these delectable mollusks is beneficial to your health.

  • They are abundant in protein and zinc, both of which help to stimulate the immune system and build bone structure.
  • They are a good source of iron, which is beneficial in the prevention of anemia.
  • They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which enhance heart health.
  • They are minimal in calories, making them ideal for weight reduction.


It is the distinction between oysters, mussels, and clams. Yet, there is one word of warning. Before indulging in these delectable mollusks, be sure you don’t have any shellfish allergies. They are more prevalent than you would believe, and they can be fatal.

If you are concerned about the mercury concentration of these shellfish, you should avoid them altogether, particularly if you are pregnant. Apart from that, try including them into your normal seafood diet.

Meanwhile, if you’re craving Asian food, check out our list of the top 10 best sushi making kits.


Are clams and mussels the same thing?

Mussels have a smooth, black-blue or brownish, elongated shell, while clams have a rounded, gray or beige, ridged shell. Both mussels and clams are bivalve mollusks, which means they have a hinged shell that divides into two sections, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

What is the difference between mussels and oysters?

Mussels have shells that are deeper blue or black, more oblong in form, and sometimes have an iridescent shine to them. Oyster shells are tougher than mussel shells and may be brown, white, or gray in color. Oyster shells are also somewhat more uneven in form than clam or mussel shells.

What is the difference between clams oysters mussels and scallops?

The auricles are absent in the clam, cockle, and oyster. Auricles are triangular features near the hinge of a scallop. Clams, cockles, and scallops are not linked to any creature or substrate. The mussel and oyster are creatures that live connected to a substrate, such as a rock.

What is the difference between oyster and clam?

Overall appearance: Although clams and oysters might be about the same size depending on the variety, the shells that they live in are aesthetically distinct. Clam shells are often smoother and more rounded, but oyster shells are rough, ridged, and have either smooth or sharp edges.

Do mussels or clams taste better?

The biggest distinction between clams and mussels is their flavor. Clams have a strong, fishy taste, but mussels are moderate and fairly bland. What exactly is this? Because of this flavor variation, mussels are regarded more adaptable in the kitchen since they can adapt to any flavor.

Are mussels or clams better tasting?

Clams vs. Mussels: Which Is Better?

While both are chewy, clams have a stronger taste evocative of the sea that is salty or fishy, but mussels have a gentler, delicate flavor that is fairly bland, therefore they are often served with a sauce or in a stew.

Do mussels taste like clams or oysters?

What’s the distinction? The flavor is the most evident. Clams and oysters taste fishy, however mussels have a more natural ocean flavor without the lip-curling slap of fish. This makes the mussel an excellent complement to sauces and extremely flexible to diverse flavors.

Which part of mussel is not edible?

The only edible element of a mussel is the flesh within its shell; the shell is inedible, and any foreign particles contained inside it are not to be consumed. Chefs employ both freshwater and saltwater mussels in their recipes, but eating freshwater mussels offers certain health dangers.

Are pearls from oysters or mussels?

Marine oysters and freshwater mussels produce pearls as a natural defense against an irritant such as a parasite penetrating their shell or injury to their delicate body. The oyster or mussel secretes layers of aragonite and conchiolin, which help form the shell.

Do clams taste better than oysters?

Oysters have a buttery, smoother flavor than clams and are generally served with a mignonette sauce. Oysters are high in zinc and phosphorus, yet low in calories and fat. If you’ve heard the expression “only eat oysters in months ending in R.,” we’re here to inform you that it’s a myth.

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