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11 BEST Clam Juice Substitutes [Tried And Tested]

I’ve personally tried and tested a range of different clam juice substitutes to find the best one, whatever your reason for avoiding clam juice is and whatever dish you’re cooking.

Here’s the quick answer.

The best clam juice substitutes are fish stock, clam base, and oyster liquor. If you’re allergic to seafood, go with chicken stock. For plant-based options, vegetable stock or dashi will do the trick. You can also try fish sauce or oyster sauce mixed with water. And as a last resort, go with dry white wine. 

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

The Experiment

I whipped up a basic soup base to try nine substitutes for clam juice.

Clam juice is simply the liquid you get from steamed clams. It doesn’t taste fishy, but instead has a fresh, briny flavor that’ll elevate soups, sauces, and even cocktails. 

We’ve got substitute options for everyone, whether you’re on a plant-based diet, have a shellfish allergy, or you’re just looking for other options.

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdict:

Substitute1 cup clam juice for?Verdict
Fish stock1 cup10/10
Clam base1 tablespoon + 1 cup water10/10
Chicken stock½  cup + ½ cup water9/10
Vegetable broth1 cup9/10
Shrimp shell stock1 cup9/10
Dashi1 cup9/10
Oyster liquor1 cup8/10
Fish sauce2 tablespoon + water8/10
Oyster sauce2 tablespoon + water6/10
White wine3/4  cup + water6/10

Fish stock and clam base mixed with water are basically identical to clam juice. So is oyster water, but that’s hard to get!

Vegetable broth or dashi are perfect plant-based alternatives.

Common dishes that use clam juice and the best substitutes

Clam juice is a versatile ingredient, but it’s most commonly used in clam chowders and in a cocktail drink called the Caesar. 

The best substitute for clam juice in soups (like clam chowder), stews, or sauce are clam base, dashi, or stock. Fish stock is best if you can find it, but chicken or vegetable stock will work too.

The best substitute for clam juice in cocktails or drinks is oyster liquor, fish sauce, or oyster sauce.

Fish stock

If you have a shellfish allergy but you’re not plant-based, fish stock is the best clam juice substitute you can use in terms of flavor.

Like clam juice, it’s not fishy. Instead, it has a delicate ocean flavor that’ll give your savory dishes that extra oomph. 

You can find fish stock in liquid broth form or bouillon cubes in most grocery stores, or you can make your own from scratch with fish bones and aromatics (if you have the patience!). 

I’ve had success using fish stock in clam chowders, soups, and stews, but I don’t recommend trying to use it in a drink or a cocktail!

The flavor is too briny.

Taste and texture
The soup base make with fish stock was very similar in terms of flavor and consistency to the one made with clam juice
1 cup clam juice = 1 cup fish stock

Clam base

If you don’t have dietary restrictions, clam base is the next best thing you can get to clam juice. It’s clams in bouillon paste form!

Delighted Cooking claims that some people actually prefer using clam base to clam juice because it has a more concentrated flavor.

A little goes a long way with this substitute – I tasted a pea-sized amount, and my face scrunched up with how salty it is! 

You’ll also need to mix in water if you’re making a soup that needs the extra liquid.

Taste and texture
The soup base made with clam juice tasted so close to the clam juice version I couldn’t really tell the difference
1 cup clam juice = 1 tablespoon clam base + 1 cup water

Chicken stock

If you’re totally allergic to fish or you just can’t stand anything remotely fishy, chicken stock is a good substitute option for clam juice.

The flavor is definitely different, it’s not as fresh and it has more of a warm, savory taste. And it’s also much saltier.

But you can offset the saltiness by diluting the chicken stock with an equal amount of water. Or you can go the healthy route and use low-sodium chicken broth.

Pro tip: this substitute doesn’t work with cocktails. After all, no one wants a chicken-flavored drink!

Taste and texture
The soup base was smooth and flavorful, but you could definitely tell the clam juice was replaced
1 cup clam juice = ½ cup chicken stock + ½ cup water 


Dashi is a Japanese broth you can make from scratch or buy in granules and ready-to-use bottles. 

It’s much simpler than other kinds of stock, with the most basic variety consisting of water, dried kelp, and bonito flakes (or one of these substitutes for bonito flakes).

It’s got the same oceany background as clam juice, but with more depth and umami to it.

A big plus for dashi is that you can use it in both savory dishes and cocktails. I used it to make Bloody Mary’s once and everyone kept asking what my “secret ingredient” was!

Taste and texture
The soup base made with dashi tasted similar to the clam juice version but had a deeper umami flavor 
1 cup clam juice = 1 cup dashi

Oyster liquor

Despite the ‘liquor’, this sub doesn’t have any alcohol! Disappointing, I know.

Oyster liquor is actually the liquid inside fresh oysters that keeps them alive when they’re out of the water. 

It has a superb briny flavor that tastes amazing on its own, but also works well when added to soups, chowders, and even drinks. 

It’s an excellent substitute, but there’s a pretty big downside… you can only get it from fresh oysters!

Taste and texture
The oyster liquor gave the soup a very similar flavor and consistency to clam juice
1 cup clam juice = 1 cup oyster liquor

Vegetable broth

Vegetable broth is a great plant-based substitute for clam juice. 

It has a milder flavor than clam juice. 

But don’t worry! You can fix this by adding a dash of something strongly savory like soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to your dish.

Pro tip: if you’re making the vegetable stock from scratch, add seaweed or miso paste to give it that fresh, ocean flavor (like with this recipe). 

Taste and texture
On its own, the soup base’s flavor profile was weaker and one-dimensional. But I added a tablespoon of soy sauce to give it more complexity
1 cup clam juice = 1 cup vegetable broth

Shrimp shell stock

My motto is no food will go to waste!

And this includes shrimp shells. Next time you’re feasting on shrimp, save the shells and use them to make some homemade shrimp shell stock.

Then keep it in the freezer for times like this when you realise you don’t have any clam juice! Shrimp shell stock will bring the same ocean-y flavor to your dish.

Psst… you can also buy some from the grocery store if you’re not a fan of cooking.

Taste and texture
My soup was really delicious – great substitute.
1 cup clam juice = 1 cup shrimp shell stock

Fish sauce

If fish sauce is all you have in your cupboard, it will work as a clam juice substitute in a pinch.

It’s briny, earthy, and chock-full of umami flavors.

But since it’s a condiment, you can’t use it as 1:1 sub for clam juice – that’ll be way too salty (but I’m sure you already knew that).

Instead, just shake a few drops into your dish, and then use water or some weak stock for liquid if you need it.

Taste and texture
The soup base made with fish sauce tasted different to the clam juice version but was incredibly flavorful
1 cup clam juice = 2 tablespoon fish sauce + water

Oyster sauce

Oyster sauce is another condiment you can add to your dish when you don’t have clam juice. 

It’s made from oyster extracts, giving it a briny flavor profile reminiscent of clam juice, but it also has an earthy sweetness that sets it apart (you can always add a dash of something acidic like lime juice or vinegar to offset this).

This condiment is potent, so you won’t need much, plus it works well in savory dishes and drinks.

Quick tip: this substitute doesn’t work the other way round, clam juice isn’t a good substitute for oyster sauce.

Taste and texture
The oyster sauce gave the soup base a flavor close to the clam juice version, but I could definitely detect a mildly sweet note.
1 cup clam juice = 2 tablespoon oyster sauce + water

Dry white wine

If all else fails, dry white wine will work as a substitute for clam juice.

It doesn’t taste anything like clam juice, but it adds a touch of acidity that will enhance your dish’s savory flavors. 

And don’t fret about the alcohol content – it’ll cook off so you won’t be able to taste it. 

Taste and texture
This tasted the most different out of all the substitutes, but it was still delicious. The citrusy note was subtle but worked well
1 cup clam juice = 1 cup dry white wine

Homemade clam juice

Got fresh clams on hand? 

There’s no need to buy clam juice! Making it from scratch is unbelievably easy. Whole Lotta Yum has a basic recipe that only includes two ingredients: live clams and water. 

You’ll also need tools like a strainer and coffee filter to remove the impurities. 

Some recipes require adding aromatics and other ingredients, but I prefer this simple recipe because of its versatility.

11 BEST Clam Juice Substitutes

I've tried and tested a range of different clam juice substitutes to find the best one.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: American
Keyword: clam juice substitute, substitutes for clam juice
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 5kcal


  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1 tbsp clam base + water
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock + water
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dashi
  • 1 cup oyster liquor
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce + water
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce + water
  • 3/4 cup white wine


  • Cook your meal according to the recipe.
  • Add your chosen clam juice at the appropriate cooking time.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe. You may need to add extra water depending on the substitute you're using.


Serving: 15g | Calories: 5kcal

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