Pasta With White Clam Sauce

Spaghetti with white clam sauce on blue plates

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 2 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
260 Calories
8g Fat
25g Carbs
21g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 260
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 349mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 4mg 21%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 557mg 12%
*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.)

Although 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. The chopped clams are quickly cooked along with onion, garlic, and parsley, meaning this white clam sauce is ready in about 10 minutes—less time than it takes to cook the pasta.

This sauce is perfect tossed with hot pasta but is also delicious as a pizza topping. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve the dish with a tossed green salad and crusty bread to sop up the juice.

"This recipe can take an easy weeknight dinner and make you feel like you're on a beachfront vacation. Make sure to keep the clam juice to use for the base of your sauce—the flavor will get soaked up in all of the pasta!" —Tracy Wilk

White clam sauce with spaghetti garnished with parsley
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) spaghetti

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 (10-ounce) can chopped clams (do not drain)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for white clam sauce gathered

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  2. Boil a large pot of water. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and aromatic.

    Chopped onion sautéing in a pan

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

    Chopped onion and garlic sautéing in a pan

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

    Minced clams sautéing in a pan with garlic and onion

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  5. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by about half.

    Clams sautéing in a pan

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  6. Add the parsley, salt, and pepper, and toss gently.

    Parsley in clam sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon

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  7. Remove about 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, mixing gently to coat. Add a little bit of the cooking water to help the sauce thicken. Serve immediately, garnished with some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

    Easy white clam sauce with pasta on a plate

    The Spruce Eats


  • Canned clams can be found in most major grocery stores in the canned seafood aisle, and are a useful pantry staple to have on hand to make clam dip, clam chowder, pasta, and pizzas.
  • If you plan to make clam pizza, you may want to reduce the sauce even further so it is not too liquidy. Spoon the sauce over the pizza crust, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Recipe Variations

  • 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 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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