Easy White Clam Sauce

Pasta with Clam Sauce
Steve Cohen/Photolibrary/Getty Images
    20 mins
Ratings (5)

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 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 or spread it on a pizza crust for a white clam pizza.

What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can (about 10 ounces) chopped clams, liquid reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 ounces dry spaghetti or linguini, cooked al dente (still a little bit firm) and drained, reserving a small amount of the water
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

How to Make It

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet; add onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until soft and aromatic. Add garlic. Cook for 1 additional minute.
  2. Add minced clams with reserved liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid reduces by about half. Add salt, pepper, and parsley and stir.
  3. Pile drained pasta into the skillet and toss to combine with the sauce. Add a few splashes of the pasta-cooking water to loosen the sauce as necessary.


    • For authentic flavor, add 1/4 cup white wine with the clams.
    • For a spicy kick, include 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (increase or decrease to taste) when you add the garlic.
    • For freshness, add 1 teaspoon minced lemon zest with the parsley.
    • For a rich texture, melt 1 tablespoon of butter into the sauce before you toss in the pasta.
    • For a fuller dish, add halved grape tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, quartered artichoke hearts or bias-cut sauteed asparagus when you toss the pasta.