Linguine with Clams

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

Linguine with clams in a garlicky white wine sauce makes an easy and elegant Italian pasta dinner.

Linguine with clams is one of those dishes that sounds elegant – or at least like the type of thing you’d order at an Italian restaurant instead of making at home – but it’s actually one of the easiest, most affordable pasta dishes you can make. I think the biggest obstacle for people is a fear of cooking shellfish like clams and mussels at home, which can be a little intimidating. I promise they are the easiest thing in the world to cook and, once you try it, you’ll wonder what took you so long!

For this dish, you can do all of the prep and make the clam sauce in the time it takes to boil the pasta, so dinner is done in 30 minutes. To complete the meal, toss a salad, warm some crusty bread, and pour a glass of the same white wine that you used to make the sauce.

What you’ll need to make Linguine with clams

ingredients for linguini with clams

HOW TO PREPARE THE CLAMS

The recipe calls for Littleneck clams, which are readily available at most supermarkets. They are usually sold in a mesh bag because they are alive and need to breathe. If your fishmonger places them in a plastic bag, remove them from the bag immediately when you get home from the supermarket and place them in a bowl (uncovered) in the refrigerator.

To prepare the clams, first, check that they are alive by making sure all of the shells are tightly closed. If any clams are open, gently tap them against the countertop; if they are alive, they will close their shells. Discard any clams that do not close their shells or that have cracked or chipped shells.

soaking clams

Next, place all of the clams in a bowl and cover them with cool tap water. Let the clams sit for 20 minutes to an hour. During this time, the clams will expel sand from inside their shells. When you’re ready to cook, lift each clam from the water and rinse it, scrubbing if necessary, to get rid of any grit from the surface. (Note that most supermarkets sell farm-raised clams, which are already quite clean, so you may not find a lot of grit or sand.)

rinsing clams

How To Make Linguine with Clams

boiling linguini

In a large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to package directions until just shy of al dente. (The pasta should still be firm to the bite since it will cook another minute or two in the sauce).

Meanwhile, prep all of the ingredients for the sauce. In a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds.

sautéing shallots and garlic

Add the wine, red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of the parsley.

adding wine, parsley and chili flakes to pan

Toss in the clams, then bring to a simmer.

clams in the pan

Cook, covered, until the clams open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

opened clams

Reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the linguine in a colander (do not rinse).

strained linguini

Add the pasta to the sauté pan with the clams. (If you don’t have room for everything in one pan, transfer the clams to a plate and cover to keep warm. When ready to serve, add them back to the pasta on a serving platter).

Increase the heat to medium and cook the linguine with the clams, tossing occasionally, until the pasta absorbs most of the sauce and is just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. If necessary, add some of reserved cooking water to keep moist.

adding butter, lemon, and parsley to the pasta

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley; toss to coat.

finished linguini with clams in pan

Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon zest and/or lemon juice, if necessary. Transfer the linguini with clams to a serving dish or bowls and serve.

you may Also like

Linguine with Clams

Linguine with clams in a garlicky white wine sauce makes an easy and elegant Italian pasta dinner.

Servings: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus at least 20 minutes to soak the clams

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped shallots, from 2 shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds Littleneck clams (40 to 45), scrubbed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from 1 lemon, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, from 1 lemon, plus more to taste

Instructions

  1. In large pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a boil. Add the linguine and cook according to the package directions until just shy of al dente (the pasta should still be firm to the bite since it will cook another minute or two in the sauce).
  2. Meanwhile, in a very large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the wine, red pepper flakes, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, clams, and ¼ cup of the parsley; bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until the clams open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
  3. Reserving ½ cup of the cooking water, drain the linguine in a colander (do not rinse). Add the pasta to the sauté pan with the clams. (If you don't have room for everything in one pan, transfer the clams to a plate and cover to keep warm. When ready to serve, add them back to the pasta on a serving platter). Increase the heat to medium and cook the linguini with the clams, tossing occasionally, until the pasta absorbs most of the sauce and is just tender, 1 to 2 minutes. If necessary, add some of reserved cooking water to keep moist. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley; toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon zest and/or lemon juice, if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish or bowls and serve.
  4. Note: When cooking with wine, select a bottle that is inexpensive (under $10) but still good enough to drink. Avoid "cooking wines," which are salty and include additives.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 627
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 67 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 33 g
  • Sodium: 920 mg
  • Cholesterol: 61 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

See more recipes:

Comments

  • I cooked your Linguine with Clams for my husband, who has tasted every conceivable recipe for this dish and said it was the best he had ever tasted. I only added a little more white wine and let it cook down a bit for five more minutes. The combination of olive oil, white wine, lemon, lemon zest, parsley, and garlic with the clams is a winning combination!

    • — Melinda on June 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • WOW! I have made linguini with clams many times. I decided to try your recipe almost exactly. (I did use a few more garlic cloves.) This is possibly the best I have ever had. Everything is perfection in this recipe. Thank you for sharing this.

    • — Lou on June 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • Best dinner I’ve made in ages. Subbed broth for the wine and added extra lemon juice. Delicious!

    • — Sue on June 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe is fantastic – fast, easy and delicious! I even substituted sardines for the clams and it was even more outstanding. It comes together very quickly, so be sure you’ve prepared all the ingredients before beginning. A wonderful summer dinner!

    • — Tee on May 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I made this recipe last night. I made one substitute. I used the white section of green onions because I didn’t have shallots. The dish took me a little longer than usual time noted. The sauce was flavorful and the presentation lovely.
    I served with chopped garlic and butter a top of baked sourdough bread. Side salad mix with fresh Swisschard. Dinner was so delicious 😋 that thinking about it makes me hungry.

    • — Julie on May 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • According to seafood suppliers, Littleneck clams average 9 clams per pound. Your recipe should call for 5 pounds of clams, or 40 – 45 whole littlenecks.
    Thank you.

    • — Jane P on May 19, 2022
    • Reply
    • We are loving this recipe. Have had Clams & Linguine in many Italian restaurants; also make at home. This was scrumptious! Will definitely make again.

      • — Mary P on May 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • I used frozen clam meat (sans shells), but otherwise followed the recipe exactly and found the dish to be bland. The second night, with half of the dish remaining, I added half a pound of shrimp, lots more lemon zest and juice, a big pile of extra parsley, a few more dashes of wine, and more Parmesan. It was much tastier.

    • — Gail on April 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m writing to you from Cyprus, a minuscule Mediterranean island and yet very poor in fresh shellfish availability (the why is another story), so virtually all of our shellfish is imported. I’d love to try out your recipe but can only find frozen clams at our supermarkets. Any idea if I’d have to defrost the clams first (presumably overnight in the fridge) or if I could simply toss them in the pan from frozen with a little longer heating till they open? Many thanks in advance.
    PS Apologies for not being able to actually rate the recipe, but it does read like a winner and I will give you feedback when I’ve actually tried it.

    • — Alma on April 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Alma in Cyprus 🙂
      I haven’t used frozen clams for this but a few readers have commented that they have and have been happy with the results. I would thaw them in the fridge overnight before using them. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Mostly liked it but it needed parmigiano reggiano cheese when served.Method that I use is to put the pasta directly from the pot on top of the clams when they are just starting to open.I used 60 manila clams that we dug a few hours before making this recipe on a Hoods Canal beach.Cover the pasta in the 12 inch cast iron skillet and don’t add the extra water as the pasta carries enough to do the job and time it for 3 minutes and then add the parsley and lemon juice and zest. I’ll use this recipe with these changes again as it only requires a bit of timing such as putting the clams into the skillet with the wine just a couple minutes before the pasta is done.

    • — paul callicoat on April 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • So delicious! We made this recipe with muscles from Costco and Italian linguine pasta. Will make it again because to was so tasty.

    • — Laura on April 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Outstanding! and I mean it. Traded 1/2 the wine for 1 cup of clam broth. Other than that I followed the recipe as written here. Good Bye to canned clams.

    • — Jamie Kincaid on March 31, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this with the longneck clams and they were large (for two pounds would have been 24 clams total) so I’m making it next time with the manila clams. Any advice? I hear the manila clams are less ‘fishy’ tasting’?

    • — Renee on March 31, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Renee, manila clams should work here. The cooking time will likely be less for them as they’re smaller. Just keep an eye on them and you’ll know that they’re ready when they open. Please LMK how it turns out with them!

      • — Jenn on March 31, 2022
      • Reply
      • Did not rate above but is 5+ stars

        • — Mary P on May 28, 2022
        • Reply
  • Really great!

    • — James DOUDNA on March 15, 2022
    • Reply

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]