How Many Clams in a Bushel? (Plus Costs)

There is nothing like eating a clam appetizer on a hot summer day. While clams are a popular vacation meal, it is possible to buy clams to make at home. But how many clams come …

clams on a seafood market

There is nothing like eating a clam appetizer on a hot summer day. While clams are a popular vacation meal, it is possible to buy clams to make at home. But how many clams come in the standard bushel, and how much does it cost?

A bushel of clams is 32 dry quarts. This measurement translates to roughly 400 smaller clams or 100 large clams. The price of a bushel of clams can range from $200 to $500 depending on the clam type, your location, and how the clams are sold. 

This article will discuss how many of the most common clams come in a bushel. I will also discuss the average cost for a bushel of clams, so be sure to read until the end!

How Many Clams in a Bushel, on Average?

You will find between 100 and 400 clams in a single bushel. The exact number of clams will depend on the type and size. You can expect to have about 100 Little Neck clams in a bushel, whereas you will only find about 100 Chowder clams in a single bushel.

soft-shell clams

While a bushel may not be a familiar measurement, it is a common term in agriculture and farming (Source: Britannica). 

The bushel measurement can be tricky to understand because it is a measurement of dry goods and isn’t one that we are used to hearing.

Below is a quick reference table that describes a bushel of average-sized clams compared to various other measurements you may be more familiar with (Source: Reference).

Average ClamPounds in a BushelGrams in a BushelQuarts in a BushelCubic Inches in a Bushel
Soft-Shell4821,772.40322,150.42
Hard-Shell6027,215.50322,150.42

As you can tell from the table, a bushel of hard-shell clams weighs more than a bushel of soft-shell clams. This is because hard-shell clams (often called quahogs) typically weigh more than those with soft shells.

We usually think of hard-shell clams when ordering clams in a store or restaurant. The soft-shell clams have a brittle shell and are often sandier. Therefore, hard shell clams are more popular.

The bushel measurement is not one of weight, so it can be confusing when determining how many clams are in a single bushel since it depends on the size of the clams. Clams come in various sizes and can be as small as 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) or as big as 6 inches (15.24 cm) (Source: Britannica). 

Though soft-shell or “steamer” clams are famous for steaming, hard-shell clams are the most common. 

Below is a table of common hard-shell clams, their typical size at harvest, and approximately how many come in a bushel (Sources: Barnegat Bay Shellfish and Parade).

NameSizeNumber in a Bushel
Little Neck1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5.1 cm)400
Top Neck2.5 to 3 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm)200
Cherrystone3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm)150
Chowder4 to 6 inches (10.2 to 15.2 cm)100
hard-shell clams in a sky blue basket

Though there are more than 150 edible species of clams, the ones mentioned above are what you will typically find in a grocery store or restaurant in the U.S. Here is a little more detail about each of these different clams (Source: Martha Stewart):

  • Little Neck: The Little Neck clams are the most desirable and popular. Though they are the smallest quahog, they are the most tender and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. 
  • Top Neck: Top Necks are the smaller version of Cherrystones and are usually enjoyed raw.
  • Cherrystone: The Cherrystone is a medium-sized quahog and is best served steamed or grilled. 
  • Chowder: The Chowder clam is the largest and oldest hard-shell clam. It is too tough to eat raw and is popular for chowders or stuffed clam recipes. 

How Many Clams in a Half Bushel?

If you are looking for only a half bushel of clams, you can expect to buy 50 to 200 clams, depending on the type. There are about 50 Chowder clams in a half bushel and about 200 Little Neck clams in a half bushel. 

Depending on the number of people you are feeding, a half bushel may be the right size. You can expect to need about ten clams per person for your meal. Therefore, if you have a smaller party, a half bushel may be the way to go.

How Much Does a Bushel of Clams Cost?

You can expect to pay between $200 and $500 for a bushel of clams. The exact price will depend on the type of clams you buy, where you live, and the condition in which you purchase them.

Because you can expect to purchase between 100 and 400 clams in a bushel, the average price of a bushel is around $212. However, there are other factors to consider when purchasing clams.

clams on a seafood market

Here are some common considerations that may affect the price of your clams:

  • Where you live. Location is a significant factor when thinking about the cost of clams. If you live in a landlocked state, buying fresh clams will be more expensive than living in a coastal area.
  • Clam type purchased. Some clam types are more expensive than others. For example, Little Neck clams, the most delectable of the quahog clams, will cost more than the Chowder clams.
  • Preparation needed. The price also accounts for the preparation required before buying the clam. For example, a pound of clams that are already shucked and cleaned will cost more than raw clams in their shell.

These factors are evident when looking to purchase clams online. For example, a bushel of Little Neck clams can range from ~$360 for fresh shell clams to ~$583 for shucked clams (Sources: Fisherman’s Market Seafood Outlet and Citarella).

The number of clams in a bushel will vary depending on the type of clam, and the prices are similarly varied. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand more about purchasing clams for your future meals.