Recipe: Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (2 videos)

This recipe for spaghetti with clam sauce (with fresh clams, canned clams and white wine) includes just a few basic ingredients: pasta, olive oil, garlic, shallots, fresh clams in the shell, canned clams, white wine, butter and fresh parsley. Fresh, briny and full of ocean flavor, it is the taste of summer itself. Use the freshest ingredients possible for full flavor. For an extra kick, add some crushed red pepper flakes and a squeeze of fresh lemon at the end. You can make this dish with whatever clams are available in your area. Littlenecks work really well. See the tip below if your clams tend to be sandy.

Pasta101 Cookbook photo

This recipe is featured in the cookbook: "Pasta 101 - 12 Easy Pasta
Recipes You Can Make in Under 30 Minutes."


Spaghetti with white clam sauce

Here is a great video for pasta with white clam sauce. The only change I would make would be to take the fresh clams out of the saucepan while cooking the shallots so they don't get over cooked. Add them back in at the very end!

Personally...I skip the cheese. I find seafood dishes to be perfect without the cheese but there are those who swear by adding their "Parm".

If your clams tend to be sandy or gritty, see the tip below for an alternative method.

TIP FOR COOKING SANDY OR GRITTY CLAMS: If your clams tend to be sandy or muddy, go ahead and cook them separately in a medium saucepan. Scrub the clams well under cool running water first to get rid of any surface grit. Toss any that are not tightly closed. Put the clams in the saucepan on medium high heat, add a lid and cook until they open...about 3 to 5 minutes depending on how many you have. You do NOT need to add any water! As they open, they release lots of wonderful clam juice. DON"T THROW THIS AWAY!! Remove the cooked clams and shells to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the remaining liquid through several layers of cheesecloth and reserve. Meanwhile, cook the shallots and garlic in the olive oil as directed. Once they are fragrant, add the reserved, strained clam juice and the wine and cook down a bit to reduce. Just before the pasta is ready, add the canned clams, with their juice, to the pan and warm through. DON"T COOK THEM! Add the cooked clams in the shell when you add the butter and toss it all together with the fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

No fresh clams? No worries. Watch this quick video for making pasta with canned clams. 

Recipe: Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce (with fresh clams and white wine)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, 8 as a starter

Recipe: Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce (with fresh clams and white wine)

This is a wonderful seafood pasta dish that combines the briny, buttery delicate taste of fresh clams, white wine, garlic and parsley with the wonderful "mouth feel" of al dente pasta. The canned clams add a lovely texture and clam flavor to every bite. Serve it with a fresh, green salad and a loaf of crusty Italian bread to soak up all the luscious juice. The taste of the sea in a bowl! Yum!


  • 1 pound of pasta (spaghetti)
  • 2 dozen fresh clams, scrubbed under cool running water
  • 2 cans of chopped clams in clam juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • a generous handful of FRESH Italian parsley
  • a generous pat of salted butter
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)


  1. Put a large pot of cold water on to boil. (4 quarts for a pound of pasta)
  2. While the water is heating, scrub the clams under cold, running water. Be sure to toss any that are not tightly closed! Mince the shallot and the garlic and set aside.
  3. When the water is at a rolling boil, add a tablespoon or 2 of salt and drop in the pasta. Stir gently to prevent it from sticking. Cook al dente (with a firm bite) according to the package directions. Be sure and test the pasta in the last minute or 2 to prevent overcooking. Keep testing every 30 seconds or so until perfect.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, (or do ahead) put the clean clams in a medium pot, cover and cook on medium high heat until they are all open...3 to 5 minutes depending on the amount you have in the pot. No need to add water as they release clam juice as they steam. Once the clams are open, remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Strain the clam juice through several layers of cheesecloth to remove any grit or bits of shell and reserve.
  5. While the clams are cooking, drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan (cold) and add the minced shallots and the garlic. Cook on medium high heat until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Don't let the garlic brown or it will be bitter!
  6. Add the white wine to the pan and deglaze, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the reserved clam juice to the pan and reduce the sauce a bit. Season very lightly with salt and pepper. Remember that the clams and clam juice are also salty. Add the canned clams, with their juice, reduce the heat to low and warm everything gently. You don't want to cook the canned clams or they will be tough (they are already cooked). Just before the pasta is done, add the clams in the shells to the sauce to warm them.
  7. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it directly to the saucepan. With the pan on low heat, add the chopped, fresh parsley and a pat of butter and toss gently to coat the pasta and heat through. Add the red pepper flakes, if using, and a squeeze of fresh lemon and serve immediately. Succulent, briny and full of delicious clam flavor!


If you don't have fresh clams, add a bottle of real clam juice to the shallots, garlic and wine and reduce to intensify the flavor. Add the canned clams, with their juice, and warm through. Toss with the hot pasta, adding the parsley, red pepper flakes and butter at the end.

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