How to Cook Fresh Wild Cockles

Cockles are small bivalves that look similar to littleneck clams, but have a slightly green hue to their cream-colored shells. Most of the cockles that you purchase in the United States are imported from New Zealand, but if you are lucky enough to have fresh, wild-harvested cockles you are in for a real treat. Prepare cockles by simmering them in water or white wine. The juices that the cockles give off as they cook combines with the cooking liquid to make a savory sauce.

Raw cockles on a table. (Image: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images)

Step 1

Place the cockles in a large colander and run cool water over them. Scrub them with a clean sponge to eliminate any algae or dirt on the shells.

Step 2

Place the washed cockles in a skillet, and add the garlic and white wine. Heat the skillet over high heat until the wine begins to bubble, then reduce the heat to medium.

Step 3

Simmer the cockles until most of them have opened. Cooking time may vary, but the cockles will generally be finished in five to 10 minutes. Discard any cockles that have not opened after 10 minutes of cooking.

Step 4

Serve the cockles with the poaching liquid. Sprinkle parsley over them to garnish, and serve with lemon wedges.

Things You'll Need

  • 8 minced garlic cloves

  • 2 cups dry white wine, such as Chardonnay

  • 3 lbs. live cockles in the shell

  • Parsley to garnish

  • Lemon wedges to garnish

  • Colander

  • Clean rough sponge

  • Skillet


Do not eat any cockles that have not opened during the cooking process. While they may be safe to eat, some cockles that did not open may harbor bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

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