Make This Easy White Clam Sauce

Spaghetti with white clam sauce

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 2 to 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
276 Calories
8g Fat
34g Carbs
18g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 276
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 438mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 18g
Calcium 106mg 8%
*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.)

Many Italian restaurants serve linguine alle vongole with fresh clams in the shell. You can replicate the briny-sweet flavor of this dish at home with convenient and readily available canned clams. Canned clams can be found in most major grocery stores and are a useful pantry staple to have on hand.

The recipe for white clam sauce comes together in less than 30 minutes. Serve it with hot pasta and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a tossed green salad, and crusty bread to sop up the juice. Another delicious option is to spread it on a pizza crust with some mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and bake for a hot and tasty white clam pizza.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 large clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 (10-ounce) can chopped clams (liquid reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)​​
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    White clam sauce ingredients
    The Spruce
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Add the chopped onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until soft and aromatic.

    Chopped onion sautéing in a pan

    The Spruce

  3. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.

    Chopped onion and garlic sautéing in a pan

    The Spruce

  4. Add minced clams with reserved liquid and bring to a boil.

    Minced clams sautéing in a pan

    The Spruce

  5. Then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid reduces by about half.

    Clams sautéing in a pan
    The Spruce
  6. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper, and then stir. Serve.

How to Serve

  • If serving over pasta, cook the pasta al dente and reserve some of the pasta water. Add the cooked pasta to the reduced clam sauce and then add a few splashes of the pasta water to help the sauce thicken. Once the sauce is fully coating the pasta, serve immediately.
  • If you plan to make clam pizza, you may want to reduce the sauce even further so it is not too liquidy when you add it to the pizza crust. Pour the sauce over the pizza crust, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted, usually about 5 to 8 minutes.

Recipe Variations

  • There are many ways to add variety to this dish and make it your own. If you want a more authentic flavor, add 1/4 cup of white wine when you add the clams. The wine will reduce and add a richness to the dish.
  • For an even richer version, add a pat of butter when you add the clams.
  • If you like a spicy kick, include 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper when you add the garlic and serve the sauce with more red pepper.
  • For a fresh taste, add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest with the parsley.
  • If you want to make this a fuller meal, add halved grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, quartered artichoke hearts, cannellini beans, or bias-cut sautéed asparagus when you add the pasta.

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