Spaghetti with Clams

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.

  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4


  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) spaghetti pasta (can up to 3/4 pound of pasta if needed)
  • Salt for pasta water
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (about a heaping tablespoon)
  • Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 6-ounce cans minced clams (including the liquid)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp 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 Tbsp 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 boiling spaghetti pasta in water

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

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

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 add parsley and lemon zest to clam sauce

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.

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  • Maria

    It was so quick and easy to make and tasted great!! Lemon zest and little red pepper gave it a great flavor and a little kick!! Will definitely make this again!!


  • Sally Loomis

    It’s even better with chopped clams rather than minced. The minced tend to get lost in the crowd. And another can doesn’t hurt either!


  • Verna E

    Made this for supper tonight. It was delicious! I even have some left for tomorrow… I will surely make this again! Thank you for such a good recipe.


  • Autumn

    Delicious, very easy, will make again


  • Carmen L.

    Thoughts on using spiralized zucchini in lieu of pasta? No dietary restrictions, just trying to see if we can integrate them into some tried-and-true recipes! Thanks!

  • Phyllis C

    Yum, yum, YUM! Healthy, quick, easy and, best of all, my kids raved about it and fought for every last bit — should I remove a star for that last one? :) I added a few fresh clams for aesthetic purposes and used linguine. Thank you!!!!


  • Kitt

    This was a great recipe find. I was searching for a white clam sauce recipe one night where I had all the ingredients in the house. I added some anchovy paste to the garlic and pepper just because I happened to have some on hand. This was quick easy and everyone enjoyed it. Will make again and thank you for sharing!


  • Christy

    Made this and was delicious! Didn’t make any modifications to the recipe and it turned out great! *I used the version w/white wine.


  • Tish

    My recipe for this is very similar, except I use canned whole baby clams with liquid and I skipped the white wine, ( because I didn’t have any) used butter in place of the oil, then I added a bit of sliced green onions and dried parsley, along with the minced garlic, salt & pepper too.

  • Kilow

    I can remember my Mom’s Clam Spaghetti recipe and this is very close! I haven’t made it for years…….I made it in HS and college several times from my friends and they always loved it……I had forgotten the recipe but I am making it again soon, thanks to this recipe!

  • Karolyn

    This recipe is just so spot on! So so tasty and quick! It’s a must use recipe!

  • Carolyn

    This recipe is delicious!! My mom ordered this meal in Italy and I’ve been craving it ever since, this is as close we can get without jumping on the plane and going back overseas.

  • Nessy

    I tried this with linguini instead of spaghetti and realized I had to wait and cook the thinner pasta once I was already working on the sauce. I didn’t have lemons so used lemon pepper instead. It came out a little on the spicier rather than the citrusy side but no complaints! I have done this dish a couple times now with little variations like this and it’s always a winner! Great pairing was Chilean Chardonnay: Casillero del Diablo.

  • Mike D

    My meat and potatoes Irish immigrant parents childhood spaghetti was canned Franco American followed by a Hoosier in-law family that ate it with knife and fork. On my own for many years I have yearned to make spaghetti as I have had in some Italian restaurants. When I read this recipe, I decided to give it a whirl. I followed the recipe exactly … it was perfectly delicious.
    Thank you so much … life is now good!

  • [email protected]

    We love pasta and clams. Only being garlic lovers I add quite a lot more garlic. Great recipe!

  • David

    This is delicious! No dairy! I added canned mushrooms, because why not!. So simple to make and so flavorful.

  • Todd watrous

    Smart balance is a butter substitute,like Marge… is ok…

  • Julia

    I’ve made this several times, but tonight I followed the recipe to the letter. Major yums! Do not skip the wine if at all possible! Elise knows what she’s talking about :)

  • Todd Watrous

    Can I add some petite peas,and a little smart balance? Also chicken broth instead of wine?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Todd, you can try adding peas if you want. I would use clam juice and not chicken broth if replacing the wine, and I would add a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. As for smart balance, I do not use that product and wouldn’t know what to tell you about it. Whatever you do, please let us know how the recipe turns out for you!

    • Chris Ennis

      Came here to see if anyone else suggested peas. I’ve eaten almost exactly this recipe for years and never get tired of it. I always add peas and a nice grated Parmesan.

  • Julia

    Great for a quick weeknight dinner. Added shrimps because the hubby likes them. Seasoned with pepperoncino-infused oil on the table. Another winner!

  • Patti Andrews

    Great recipe! Thanks for sharing! My husband loved it! I did tweak it a little by adding sun-dried tomatoes and a few tbs. of butter! Outrageous!!

  • Sandy S

    Just have to say that this has become my new ‘go to recipe’ when I am short on time! It comes together so fast and is easy to ‘add to’ for variations. It also helps that I have fresh GF pasta available locally. Lemon thyme flavored pasta is dynamite with this clam sauce!


  • Elise Lafosse

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I make linguine and clams all the time, but your recipe trumps mine by far! That bit of lemon just added something. Loved it and will make it again.

  • Eileen

    Where is the other 1 tablespoon of olive oil used? It only says add 2 tablespoons to the pan.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Eileen, that was a typo, thanks for the catch! Use 3 Tbsp of olive oil in the pan.

  • Arden

    Great classic recipe. I find I like to make it with lots of fresh chopped “green stuff” — most notably several scallions (green onions) with the green parts chopped, some added early in the process to cook down a little and the rest added just at the end to be fresh. I also often add a good glug of white wine, and sometimes a splash of heavy cream if I have it on hand and am feeling indulgent. Enjoyed this recipe, as always.

  • Sandy S

    We had this tonight and really enjoyed it! I made it with lemon juice and water as I didn’t have an appropriate white wine and added some ribbons of chard to the pasta water as the pasta was finishing. I also added about 1/4 cup of sliced black olives to the sauce just before serving. Truly turned out very good and will be keeping minced clams in the pantry in the future. This sauce comes together like magic! I can see making use of it for other ingredients, as well. So easy and so good!


  • Brian

    Saw this posted yesterday and HAD to change my dinner plans. My kids are all grown and off on their own, I’m definitely NOT a mom, but this is such a quick meal to throw together. I like to toss in a little minced onion or shallot too and this time I took your suggestion and added some chopped artichoke hearts. Loved it!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • stacy

    Thank you for your shout out to mom’s today. I needed that! I LOVE my kiddos, and love that I get to stay home with them, but my spirit has just been a little blah lately. Feeling over worked and under paid. Ha;) Having little ones is physically demanding. I think I’m getting old! Ha ha.
    Anyhow, two of my greatest loves are family, and cooking delicious foods for them. Your blog has been a great resource for me.
    Some of my favorite recipes of yours that I keep in my back pocket when the kids are hungry and I’m getting a late start is your simple buttery tomato pasta (we make it every Sunday after church), and the asian tuna salad…which totally took me by surprise! Unbelievable taste centered around canned tuna…who would have thought? It comes together so fast yet tastes like I’ve been working on it all day. Oh and we adore your cornbread in the skillet, and your simple coleslaw. Great finds!
    Thank you!

  • Sandy S

    Minced clams are on the shopping list! Looking forward to making this with GF noodles. Oh my! Who is not busy these days?! And, I have been wondering, do women get vacations? I mean really?! It’s just go, go, go and start all over again. Throw in a broken pc or some such thing and we just go into crisis mode and swim through it. So, yes! … Thank you Elise for helping with delicious recipes that help keep our energy and spirits up!

  • Joni Pensack

    Thx for reminding me of this delicious and easy dish. I plan to make it very soon. My original recipe came from Regis Filbin’s wife. (NYC Regis morning show) and it was quite similar to yours. I’ll surprise my husband soon as it was always one of his favorites.

  • Julie

    I made this just the other night using a giant can of clams from Costco. Such a quick and delicious dish.


  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Even though I live in New England, I’m not close enough to the fish market to get fresh clams on a moment’s notice. Canned clams are a fixture in my pantry, as are all of the other ingredients in this dish. Sometimes I toss in chunks of canned tomato, too.

  • Bob Y

    Years and years ago I had a friend who followed the recipe on the side of the Progresso minced clam can. This is very similar I think, his but the can called for rosemary. In that I live in the desert and don’t really trust the seafood here, the canned clams are great.

  • Alison

    Yum. Love it!

  • Peter Keim

    Very similar to my version of this. For more interest and some richness, I usually saute minced shallots with the garlic, and add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese to the sauce, blend it in well and reduce the liquid as directed above, but perhaps not as much. This produces a nice creamy clam sauce with terrific flavor. A little freshly grated parmesan served on top just gilds the lily!

    • Linda

      I took Peter’s advice and used minced shallots and added 1/3c of cream to it. Kids really liked it. I happened to have fresh claims so I boiled them first to get juice and deshelled them to add at the end. I also added in some sliced up tilapia for extra protein! I would make this again! Thanks, Elise.