Linguini 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 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 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 Linguini 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 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.

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

Linguini 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
  • 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:

Reviews & Comments

  • I added condensed milk (in lieu of heavy cream) and it added another dimension to the dish. I also made an artisan bread (overnight white bread via Forkish’s book) and served the dish over the bread, with the pasta and the clam sauce and a very nice dry white wine. Wow! The bread!! The pasta! and the Clam sauce!
    This is a dish to keep.
    Don Weissman

    • — Donald A. Weissman on October 3, 2019
    • Reply
  • EXCELLENT, recipe very simple.. DELICIOUS

    • — Cevia on September 29, 2019
    • Reply
  • There is not one thing you need to change or add to this recipe It is awesome Love Love & Love

    • — Lynn Dyson on August 30, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Can I make this with shrimp instead? I want to cook something like shrimp scampi and thought maybe it would work with this recipe. If so, what would I need to do differently? Thank you!

    • — Turtle on August 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Turtle, Yes, you can use shrimp in place of clams. No need to modify the recipe except to change the amount of time the shrimp cooks. After sauteing the shallots and garlic, I’d add the wine and other ingredients sans the shrimp and let that cook for about 5 minutes. Then add the shrimp and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes or until just cooked through (be careful not to overcook them). I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 14, 2019
      • Reply
  • Grocery store had wild clams but followed rest of the recipe closely. Turned out amazing! Thank you for this great dish!

    • — Lyvia on August 5, 2019
    • Reply
  • Finally!!! A recipe that doesn’t call for canned clams and/or bottled clam both.

    • — Luigi on August 3, 2019
    • Reply
  • Excellent and easy! I followed the recipe exactly using fresh littlenecks. A perfect amount of heat from the red pepper flakes. This will join my foolproof recipe file.

    • — Janet on July 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • My son and I really enjoyed this recipe. We live in a rural area in middle of the desert so fresh clams weren’t an option. I used frozen clam meat from Safeway that was roughly 11oz of clam meat without the shell or juice. Paired with 1 pound of linguine it was enough for 2 big hungry fellas and probably just enough for 3 normal portion eaters.
    The lemon zest with the amount of fresh parsley this recipe calls for is what makes this version of linguine and clams different from most.
    Our dinner was delicious!
    Only thing I did different was add about 4 cranks of fresh ground black pepper along with the red pepper flakes. We also tried just a sprinkle of fresh graded parmesan about 1/2 way through our plates to see if it made it better. The dish is already rich from the wine and butter so the cheese was nice but it almost pushed it over the top.
    I will definitely makes this again using frozen clam meat but will try in the near future to also make it with fresh live clams.

    • — AZgunslinger on July 17, 2019
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! Thank you for such a great and easy recipe to follow and wow the family!

    • — frances on July 15, 2019
    • Reply
  • Jenn, Do you think this would be ok with frozen clams in the shell? They are more readily available.

    • — Laura Migliore on June 30, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, I haven’t made these with frozen clams but a few readers have commented that they have and have been happy with the results. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on July 1, 2019
      • Reply
  • Absolutely fabulous! One of my many favorite recipes from you. I used to order it a lot in italian restaurants, but this is definitely better than any other version I’ve had before. Make it a lot for my husband, and just made it for my family from another country, who loved it as well. So decadent and light at the same time! A must try.

    • — Tanya on June 7, 2019
    • Reply
  • This was FABULOUS! And much easier to make than it first appears! I increased the number of clams by about 1.5 as my family loves those. Used corn fettuccini noodles (we need to be GF) which matched the flavours beautifully. Garnished with some fresh Parm. And served with a romaine salad. Only note, don’t cook the clams too long! I think I let them cook an extra minute or two and they started to get a little on the chewy side. Jen, I try about 1 of your recipes a week. You are my GO TO! Will be cooking your brisket and onion recipe Friday night for Passover (amazing – have made this several times) and will try the chocolate meringue cake for the first time. Can’t wait 🙂

    • — Karine on April 15, 2019
    • Reply
    • 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2019
      • Reply
  • This is a fantastic recipe. Now, I can finally make my favorite meal like a pro! And by the way, on a weeknight 😊!!

    • — Jessi Frothingham on April 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • We made this for our Friday dinner in Lent. It was so good and so easy. We live in the Pacific Northwest, where we are blessed to have fish markets in almost every store. Bought fresh clams, a large clove of garlic and parsley from the garden. Opened a bottle of white wine for the recipe and us. This will be made again for sure. It was such a treat to have the whole fresh clams.
    My only regret was I cut the amount of linguini as we were only two…so wrong. We enjoyed it to the last morsel. I am giving his a RAVE review and five 5 stars.
    By the way I found this recipe from an email I received from “once upon a chef” as I signed up my email

    • — Sandy Burga on April 12, 2019
    • Reply
  • forgot to add the stars!

    • — Lydia on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • This is by far the best clam pasta dish I have ever made. I followed the recipe with a few changes based on what I had. I used spaghetti instead of linguine and 12 ounces of frozen clam meat that I found at the Asian store. I left the juices in from the clam meat which I think added to the flavor. Other than those changes, I made the dish following the recipe and it was so delicious. I especially liked the addition of the butter at the end and the slightly cooked and fresh parsley which gives a subtle flavor that tastes great. Using clam meat worked out very well because they were delicious and we didn’t have to deal with the shells which I liked very much. This is going to be the way I make this dish from now on!

    • — Lydia on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • Thanks for this delicious recipe! Two items I like to add: 1. saute chopped pancetta w/the shallots and garlic 2. serve with excellent crusty bread, so you can soak up any extra sauce! In fact, I often just make clams, add a little extra wine for extra liquid, and serve as an appetizer w/bread, instead of as a pasta dish. Can’t wait for summer clams!

    • — Laura on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • I brought two of Jenn’s dishes to an Italian themed Christmas dinner, her Chicken Marsala (which I’ll review separately and was a hit) and this Linguine with Clams. On a buffet filled with lasagna and meatballs and spaghetti with sausage and more traditional Italian items guess what was gone first? Linguine with Clams. People were thrilled when I added it to the sign up sheet and I didn’t figure out why until Christmas day. People are afraid of cooking clams. Don’t be! Jenn’s directions on this recipe are spot on. A novice cook can follow them successfully, the pictures and directions will tell you exactly what to do. Once you’ve checked they’re alive and cleaned them for (usually nominal) grit, you just follow the recipe like any other one. My saucepan has glass lids so I was able to watch the clams pop open through it so I didn’t have to open the lid and keep checking which was very helpful. All in all, there’s a very good reason this is included in the Tested and Perfect section… the taste is excellent, it’s easy to make, and she walks you through the clam cleaning process. A+ from me.

    • — Kristen (dishanddelish.com) on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this yesterday. This is a wonderful recipe! I don’t normally write reviews but I wanted to thank you for the detailed directions you provided. I would not otherwise have had the confidence to try making this. I’ve never cooked fresh clams before and I’m so glad I tried it. This dish is delicious! I’m very critical of my own cooking but I was actually impressed with myself. It really was an elegant Italian restaurant quality meal. I found your website one day while searching for a crab cake recipe, which is also fabulous. But WOW. To anyone else who is a novice, just follow the directions and you can do this too. Thank you Jen. And if you have a recipe for baked stuffed clams, I hope you post it soon. I want to learn how to make that also. Thanks!

    • — Kelly on April 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • Jenn, made your Linguine with Clam sauce. Halved the recipe for two of us and used frozen clams and it was excellent! No other adjustments necessary.

    • — Hy on April 7, 2019
    • Reply
  • Linguine with clams is one of my favorite pastas of all-time, and this recipe did not disappoint! I’ve made it a couple times at home using other recipes, but I much prefer Jenn’s recipe! I love how her recipe gets so much clam flavor without having to use canned clam juice. And the touch of lemon zest and lemon juice is unique compared to other recipes I’ve tried. Thank you Jenn for another amazing recipe!

    • — Julie on April 6, 2019
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious and easy to make! My husband is a tough critic and described this meal as ‘exceptional’ – Thank you for another great recipe, Jenn!

    • — Nicole on April 5, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Quick question for you. In this recipe it doesn’t look like the alcohol in the wine would have a chance to cook off. Is this correct? I would like to make this for my family (subbing in shrimp for the clams) but I have a baby and want to make sure the alcohol won’t be an issue. If you think alcohol would still be present in the final dish, any suggestions to make it baby friendly?
    Thanks!

    • — Bry on April 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Bry, I don’t think the wine completely cooks off so you might want to substitute bottle clam juice. Just omit the salt and add it to taste at the end. Hope your family enjoys it.

      • — Jenn on April 4, 2019
      • Reply
  • Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it last night (without the red pepper flakes) and am enjoying the leftovers today. I added extra lemon juice to my plate, which was so great and allows others to adjust the acidity and brightness. I could see this being a nice dish for a small dinner party. You have demystified clams for me!

    • — grace on April 2, 2019
    • Reply
  • Jenn I made this last evening using shrimp instead of clams. It was fantastic. My daughter had two servings and loved it. I didn’t change the recipe at all except for the shrimp. You’re right, it comes together very easily and is so delicious. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

    • — Frank on March 30, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this last night with mussels, Chateau Ste Michelle Sauvignon Blanc and our new favorite brand of pasta, De Cecco. The mussels took only about 3-4 minutes to open in the pan. Very easy and very tasty. My husband especially liked this dish. I served it with a simple arugula salad. I will definitely make this again using either clams or mussels, depending on what looks best in the market that day.

    • — Carol F. on March 29, 2019
    • Reply
  • I’d like to use canned clams. What size would I need?

    • — Sona Creighton on March 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Sona, not sure if you’re referring to the size of the clams or the size of the can. If you’re referring to the clams, any size will do. If it’s the can size you’re wondering about, I would guesstimate that you’ll need about 12 – 16 ounces. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2019
      • Reply
  • where did you buy your colander? must try this recipe. It looks delicious.

    • — Irene on March 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Irene, I’ve had that colander for a really long time and unfortunately, I don’t recall where I got it-sorry! (Hope you enjoy the linguine if you try it.) 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I would like to make this with shrimp, is it better to use thawed cooked shrimp or uncooked shrimp and if using uncooked, should I add after clams open up? Thank you so much for your recipes. I can honestly say I have a better marriage and family because these delicious meals bring us to together most evenings. Thank you.

    • — Jennifer on March 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, So glad your family enjoys the recipes! 🙂
      If you’d like to add shrimp to this, I’d suggest uncooked and I’d add them after the clams have been cooking for about 5 minutes. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 2, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I don’t have access to littleneck clams, do you think the recipe would be as good with mussels?

    • — Elise on March 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Elise – I think mussels would beautifully here. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 28, 2019
      • Reply
  • Can I use canned clams in this recipe? Fresh clams are harder for me to find and more expensive?

    • — Catherine on March 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure, Catherine, but keep in mind that canned clams are higher in sodium than fresh. I would omit the salt in the sauce and add it to taste at the end. Please let me know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on March 28, 2019
      • Reply
      • Just made it with canned clams Jenn-ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Thank you for a great recipe, I will definitely make it again.

        • — Catherine on April 3, 2019
        • Reply
  • Made it tonight and turned out great, better than in restaurants. I didn’t have fresh clams, so I used canned ones. Used clam juice from the drained can and topped it with some dry white wine to a total of 1 cup. Otherwise, followed the recipe precisely. My husband said it was perfect.

    • — Tanya on March 27, 2019
    • Reply
    • And yes, since I was using clam juice/white wine mixture, I reduced the amount of salt.

      • — Tanya on March 27, 2019
      • Reply
    • Tanya,
      How many cans of clams did you have to use? Thank you!

      • — Doreen Sanders on April 2, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Thank you for the recipe. What is a good substitute for white wine, if we do not cook with alcohol? Thank you!

    • — Maria on March 27, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Maria, I would use bottled clam juice or store-bought vegetable broth (or a combination) — and I’d omit the salt in the sauce until the dish is fully cooked, then season to taste.

      • — Jenn on March 27, 2019
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, Thank you so much for this recipe, I tried this last Friday and always wanted to make a meal with fresh clams and wine. The picture ingredients helped too however, when I went to the store I brought a 6oz Pinot Noir to only discover it was RED. I was already in the middle of cooking and had to continue. The end result was still good with the dish being a bit darker. It still had a great flavor and my family loved it. Thanks for sharing I’ll have to try this recipe again with the correct wine next time.

        • — Ali on April 11, 2019
        • Reply
    • OMG! This is my new favorite! I made this for dinner tonight and added shrimp. I had my parents over for dinner. Each of us had THREE helpings! We couldn’t stop raving about how delicious it was.

      • — Sharon on March 27, 2019
      • Reply
      • You answered my question about using shrimp. I know my daughter won’t eat clams but she loves shrimp. This is dinner for us tonight.

        • — Frank on March 29, 2019
        • Reply
        • This is a great recipe. I love the detailed photos as I have always been a bit nervous cooking clams and the seasonings here are spot on….this will be my new go to recipe for the week. My husband really enjoyed it as well!

          • — Carol S on April 11, 2019
          • Reply

Add a Review or Question

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