Linguine with Clams

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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; 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.

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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
  • 1/2 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)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds Littleneck clams (40 to 45), scrubbed
  • 1/4 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, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, clams, and 1/4 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 1/2 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.

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.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Excellent dish!! I have made this multiple times now, and its my go-to dish for linguini with clams.

    • — Frank on June 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • My son made this for me for Mother’s Day and it was excellent! He added some 16-20 shrimp cleaned & deveined. Warm crusty Italian bread to dunk & swipe, good wine & awesome company! Highly recommend this recipe.

    • — Debbe on May 9, 2021
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  • Made for my wife for her bday dinner and it was a big hit. Will definitely make again.

    • — Jeff on May 2, 2021
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  • OMG, that was a good choice to make. As long as I have been cooking, I have never made anything with fresh clams. This was quick and amazingly good. It has made it into our favorites file!

    Thank you for sharing.

    • — Gary Boyd on April 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • What is the size of your saute pan?

    • — Leslie on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Leslie, It’s a 12-inch pan.

      • — Jenn on April 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious!

    • — K Glass on April 5, 2021
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  • I really like this recipe. My mistake was I perhaps added too much salt and pepper and didn’t have enough juice so kind of dry. My hubby is used to dipping some French bread on the sauce but there was no sauce even after adding water from the pasta. I liked the idea of not rinsing the pasta in cold water so it can absorb the juice. I learned a lot of good tips. Perhaps next time I’ll add some canned clams and clam juice. Thank you for this delicious recipe!!

    • — Nora Yan on March 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • along with some water left over from pasta I use a bottle of clam juice. I also add a can of minced clams. You can never have enough clams.

      • — Thomas Jost on May 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe last night. My husband, who has a sophisticated palate, raved about the meal and gave it a 10/10. We complemented it with a crisp green salad a a bottle of Chalk Hill Chardonnay! This can certainly be a company meal for discriminating guests! Easy and delicious!

    • — Raquel on March 24, 2021
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  • Ended up putting 1/4 cup of parsley in due to the comma….

    • — Antonio S on March 22, 2021
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    • Doesn’t the recipe call for
      This amount? About to make this weekend!

      • — LB on May 6, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi LB, it calls for 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on May 7, 2021
        • Reply
  • Delicious and so easy to make. My “go to” meal when I want to impress and enjoy!

    • — Ann Carey Holt on March 13, 2021
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  • Very good recipe. As easy as promised tasted delicious, i used an onion diced fine as the shallots had run out, Pinot Grigio was a very good recommendation. Having never cooked clams before this was a breakthrough moment.

    • — jim wilson on February 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this last night and it was a huge hit with my hubby and 2 boys. Didn’t have shallots so left those out and added extra garlic and red pepper flakes. Absolutely delicious. Will definitely be making again and again.

    • — Leah on February 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this last night and it was excellent I used cod and my husband couldn’t get enough and he is a very picky eater kudos to you Jenn

    • — Anne on February 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • My absolute favorite go to for clams and linguine! My boyfriend and I love this perfect recipe!

    • — Sandy on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • When we travel to NY, my daughter always requests a visit to her favorite restaurant for linguine and clams. I came across this recipe and made it for her. Absolutely wonderful! It has become her new favorite dish! Thank you, Jenn!

    • — Kim Brassard on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This dish is absolutely addictive! I made it with shrimp instead of the clams, and it came out perfect. The ingredients blend so well and create layers of flavors – creaminess of butter, spiciness of red pepper flakes (the addictive part), the richness of simmered wine, parsley and garlic, slight sweetness of shallots, make me go back to this recipe over and over again. I even cooked the mahi-mahi following this recipe, using the sauce for the pasta as a side dish and mahi-mahi came out tender and flavorful. My entire family loves this dish.

    • — Isabella on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe was spot on! All the proportions were just right and it came out so tasty and wonderful! Because everything was just right, I checked out other recipes on this site and created an account. I have been burned by too many bad recipes before finding this one and this site! Highly recommend this one! It was my first time making clams and it came out beautifully, thanks to the detailed steps and pics.

    • — M.S. on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is delicious!!!
    Perfect way for me to be introduced to clams! I used gluten free brown rice pasta & it was wonderful!
    If you’re on a special diet (like myself) for Low Fodmap, omit the shallots & garlic, instead sub to chives, leek, or scallions (green part.)

    • — Ana Jane Ivacove on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this dish for my family and they loved it! I was somewhat apprehensive at first about making a recipe with clams, but Jennifer made the process easy, and the finished product was delicious. It’s now my favorite go-to Italian dish. Thank you!

    • — Barb on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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