I love seafood, though my college life budget does not allow me to indulge in the cuisine under the sea as much as I would like to. However, many people, myself included, are not sure what the difference between mussels and clams is. I am aware that they are different but outside of the taste, I am not sure what else about them makes the different. Here is the lowdown on everything about mussels vs clams:

What Are They to Begin With?

shellfish, oyster, seafood, fish, clam, mussel
Emily Baxter

Both mussels and clams originate in similar mollusk (hinge-shell creatures) families but there are differences between them. Mussels come from saltwater and freshwater alike. Their shells are long and less circular than their clam counterparts. Their shells are not smooth and are commonly dark blues, browns, or black. The inside of the shell is a silver or gray color. Mussels are also securely attached to the surface they live on by tight threads.

Clams, however, are only found in freshwater. They hide under the bottom surface of the water they live in. Clams are also circular and oval like in their shape and have two equally sized halves of the shell. What makes clams unique is that they have bodily organs. Clams have a heart, parts of a digestive system, and a circulatory system.

What Does Each Taste Like?

seafood, paella, shellfish
Kara Schiaparelli

Many could describe a mussel as a "chicken of the sea" in taste, but I feel like that is a disgrace to seafood. I find that a mussel tastes like the sea and have a mild taste to them. Mussels are soft but have a tender chewiness to them when made correctly. There are many ways to prepare mussels, and with their mild taste, they can pleasantly take on the tastes of the dish you are making with them.

Clams can be eaten raw or cooked in an array of manners. They have a nice, salty taste. However, the saltiness is more of a salt-water-y kind of way. They have a fishy taste but it is not gross nor is it overpowering. Their texture is difficult to describe, but clams are chewy, and depending on how they are prepared, can come off as slightly rubbery.

What Do I Do With Them?

soup, chowder, lobster, shrimp, cream, potato, lobster bisque
Jinna Hatfield

The simple answer is that you cook with them. I find that mussels are best in a paella, but my favorite way to have them is in a seafood scampi. You can also have mussels steamed and eat them dipped in butter. I personally do not enjoy them as much that way as the butter over powers the mild flavor of the mussels.

You can eat clams raw, or some ways to cook them include classic Clam Chowder, fried, and baked. Many say that they are best to have by themselves with only lemon. Regardless of how you cook them, they will be fantastic!

seafood, shellfish, mussel, fish, vegetable, sauce
Josh Stern

A lot of people are scared to try mussels and clams because of a slight fear of shellfish. Now that you know what to expect from the differences between mussels vs clams you are more than prepared to enjoy the delicacies of seafood. These are pricey though, so I suggest enjoying them when your family treats you out to dinner when they visit!