Spaghetti With Clams

Quick and easy spaghetti pasta with clam sauce from minced clams, clam juice, white wine, olive oil, and garlic

Spaghetti and Clams
Elise Bauer

Busy parents, I applaud you! Actually I bow down to you. I have no idea how you do it. I'm neither a parent, nor blessed with any innate organizational skills.

My own mother had six kids in eight years, and we had sit-down family dinners every night (couldn't afford to go out!) When I ask her how she managed, she just shrugs and tells me she had a lot of energy back then.

This spaghetti with clams recipe is for busy parents and busy not-parents. It's for those of us who sometimes (often) forget to plan, wait until we're hungry to think about dinner, but have the foresight to keep a well-stocked pantry.

It's easy and takes about 30 minutes or so to make, depending on how quickly you can bring a pot of water to a boil on your stove.

Spaghetti and Clams
Elise Bauer

The recipe uses canned minced clams, the clam juice in the cans, some olive oil, white wine, lemon zest, parsley, and plenty of garlic to make the sauce.

You prep the ingredients while the water for the pasta is coming to a boil, and you make the sauce while the spaghetti is cooking. Toss everything together to serve.

If you want to get a little fancy, add some chopped olives or marinated artichoke hearts at the end.

Spaghetti With Clams

Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 3 to 4 servings

Almost all of the alcohol will boil off from the wine in this recipe as you cook it, leaving just the flavor. If you want to sub the wine for something else, you can just add water with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice.

Do all of the prep work while the water is coming to a boil.


  • 8 ounces spaghetti (can use up to 3/4 pound of pasta if needed)

  • Salt for pasta water

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 heaping tablespoon)

  • Pinch red chili pepper flakes

  • 2 (6-ounce) cans minced clams, including the liquid

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat salted water, do prep:

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water). While the water is heating, prep the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.

  2. Cook the spaghetti:

    Add the spaghetti to the boiling water, set your timer for 2 minutes less than the recommended time (so you can be assured that you are cooking the pasta al dente).

    Cook the spaghetti uncovered in vigorously boiling water. While the spaghetti cooks, prepare the clam sauce.

    dry spaghetti noodles in pot with water
    Elise Bauer
    boiling spaghetti pasta in water
    Elise Bauer
  3. Sauté garlic, chile flakes:

    Heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the red chili pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, until the garlic just is on the edge of browning.

    saute garlic and chili flakes to make clam sauce for spaghetti
    Elise Bauer
  4. Add wine, clam juice, reduce:

    Add the white wine to the pan. Open the cans of clams and squeeze out the clam juice from the cans into the pan as well.

    add clam juice to pan to make sauce for spaghetti
    Elise Bauer

    Raise the temperature to high and let boil sauce the sauce reduces as the spaghetti cooks. (Put pan on largest burner on high heat to help the sauce reduce more quickly.)

  5. Add chopped clams, parsley, lemon zest:

    About the same time the spaghetti is finishing its cooking, the sauce should be reduced by about two-thirds. There should be about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of liquid still in the pan.

    Add the chopped clams, and return to a simmer. Then stir in the minced parsley and the lemon zest.

    add chopped clams to clam juice to make clam sauce
    Elise Bauer
    add parsley and lemon zest to clam sauce
    Elise Bauer
  6. Toss cooked spaghetti with the clam sauce:

    When the pasta is done to the point of al dente (cooked but still a little firm when you bite), drain it and place it in a serving bowl. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and toss to combine. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to taste.

    Serve with a little more fresh parsley sprinkled over the top. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti and Clams
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
329 Calories
12g Fat
25g Carbs
24g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 329
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 1270mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 85mg 7%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 651mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.