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Difference Between Clam and Cockle

Clam vs Cockle

Shellfish has been consumed as food by man for thousands of years now. Today they are a part of every cuisine in every part of the world, especially those places which are located near the coastal areas. Shellfish include crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters, and shrimps; echinoderms such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers; and mollusks such as oysters, scallops, mussels, clams, and cockles.

Clams are marine or freshwater bivalves. The shells of which are composed of two equal sections that are joined together. It is a term used to refer to all bivalve mollusks, and it is also used to refer to those bivalves which burrow into sediment. They usually live in the sand or mud, and they breathe through siphons. They have no head and no eyes, but they are equipped with kidneys, a mouth, an anus, a heart, and an open circulatory system.

Clams come in different shapes and sizes with most of them edible although not all are fit to be consumed. There are two types of clams, namely; the hard-shell clams and soft-shell clams. Some of the hard-shelled clams are: little neck clams, cherry clams, Manila clams, and the chowder clams.

Some of the soft-shelled clams are: steamer clams, razor clams, and the geoduck clams. These soft-shelled clams are so called, not because their shells are soft, but because their shells are thin and brittle. They have a stronger flavor and smell and are best cooked slowly. They typically taste sweet. That’s why they are best eaten raw, but they can also be cooked and used as ingredients for soups and in other recipes.

Cockles, on the other hand, are small, edible, marine bivalves. They live in sandy beaches, and their shells are symmetrically round which appear heart shaped when viewed from the ends. Like clams and other mollusks, they also burrow and live in the sand and feed on plankton. Preparing them for cooking entails thorough washing to remove the sand, and they have to be cooked before they can be consumed, though, because raw cockles have been known to cause hepatitis. They are prepared through boiling, frying, or pickling.

There are several types of cockles such as the common cockle, or the Cerastoderma edule, the dog cockle which is inedible, the blood cockle which is common in Korea and Malaysia, and the true cockle which is also known as the egg cockle.


1.Clams are bivalve mollusks which can either be freshwater or saltwater while cockles are also bivalve mollusks which are only found in saltwater.
2.Clams come in different shapes and sizes and are used in a broad sense to refer to all bivalve mollusks while cockles have a distinct shape which is round and appear heart shaped with distinct patterns on the shells.
3.Both breathe through siphons and live in the sand or mud and can be boiled, baked, or fried. While clams are best eaten raw, eating raw cockles has been found to cause hepatitis.

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  1. “the dog cockle which is inedible”

    This is entirely false information.

    The Dog Cockle, or ‘Amande’ clam, is 100% edible and is consumed all over Europe. They tend to get a little tough if you overcook but they are a great substitute when making the Rhode Island classic: ‘Clams Casino’ as this dish only requires a short blast in the oven.

    They also make great chowder. Please ignore the part on any recipe for chowder that says steam clams open first – this is a surefire way of getting chewy clams. Shuck the bag over a bowl, ensuring that all juices are captured, drain through a cheese strainer to remove any grit, pour the juices into your chowder at the beginning and add the clams at the end.

    • Dude!

      You’ve made me hungry and it’s 1am on Christmas Eve, not sure what rabbit hole I fell into to get here but I’m glad. Learned something new…

  2. Thanks for the info, Rich! I was never a big fan of clams or oysters because I was allergic to bivalves as a child. However as an adult, I have found that I can eat, and am actually quite fond of, good clam chowder. But I have had the chewy kind, yuck! Over all, probably as a result of my experiences as a child, I don’t eat much fish or shellfish, the less “fishy” tasting, the better. I love grilled shark, tuna, and salmon, and battered fish, like fish and chips in England, and at Long John Silver’s, in the U.S. I also like canned white albacore tuna for tuna salad sandwiches, and battered shrimp. I wonder why they said dog cockles are inedible when so many people DO eat them?

    • My family doesnt like the strong fishy taste either. I tried mahi while working at red lobster and enjoyed it. So i tried cooking it for my family. I cooked it in the oven with butter and a little lemon pepper. My family thought it tasted like chicken. I didnt tell them it was fish until it was all gone. Now i can get them to eat it all the time. Its tender and flaky. I recommend it to anyone who doesnt like strong fishy taste.

  3. back home in UK, and from a deepsea fishing family, i grew up eating cockles sold on the beaches, usually boiled and springled with malt vinigat in a smal tub or paper cup, kinda like a treat, loved, loved, loved them

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