Linguine with Clams
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Linguine with clams in a garlicky white wine sauce makes an easy and elegant Italian pasta dinner.
Linguine with clams is a classic Italian restaurant dish, and it’s also one of the simplest, most affordable pasta dishes you can make at home. I know cooking shellfish, like clams and mussels, can be intimidating to the uninitiated, but 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 few glasses of the same white wine used to make the sauce.
Looking for more classic Italian restaurant pasta dishes? Try my penne all vodka, fettuccine bolognese, and lasagna.
What you’ll need to make Linguine 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.
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.)
How To Make Linguine with Clams
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.
Add the wine, red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of the parsley.
Toss in the clams, then bring to a simmer.
Cook, covered, until the clams open, 6 to 8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
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 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.
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 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.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I made this and it didn’t have any clam taste. Just tasted like linguini with oil, garlic and butter. Was very disappointed.
Incredible! I backed out of making homemade linguini and used a gourmet “fresh” brand instead and this was perfect! The whole family absolutely loved it and are asking for it to happen again, very soon. Better than any of the fancy restaurants. If this is indicative of all your recipes, I’m buying all your cookbooks! Thank you so much!
Delicious dish! Followed the recipe exactly and we will definitely make this again.
I love 99% of Jenn’s recipes, but this wasn’t a winner for me. I am gluten free and Whole Foods only had GF spaghetti. By the time I tossed it around with the clams and sauce, even keeping al dente, the pasta completely broke apart. I also purchased wild Littleneck clams and every single one was so chewy that my husband and I had to discard pieces of clam from our mouths. I felt the dish had too much butter as it gave it a whitish-looking thick sauce and was heavy to eat. It didn’t look anything like her photos above. It could have also used more parsley as mine got lost in the sauce.
I am also gluten free. Predictable that dry rice flour noodles would break. I use fresh GF noodles found at Natural Grocers and they work wonderfully with this recipe. You just don’t salt the water. I suspect Trader Joe’s GF fresh egg noodles would work as well. My husband, who is not GF, loved it with the fresh GF pasta as well. Will make again.
We only have manila clams, will those work? Any changes to the cooking time? Also if I want to double this recipe and buy 4 pounds of manila clams, can I double the rest of the ingredients? Sometimes doubling a recipe is a disaster. Thanks, keep up the great work!
Hi Maddie, 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. And I do think this is a recipe that you could get away with doubling. Hope you enjoy!
I have made your wonderful recipe about 4 times now and it is always a hit no matter who I serve. I used canned baby clams instead of shelled and it was marvelous. Thank you so much for sharing these recipes! I hope to try another one this weekend.
Can I use canned clams?
Sure, 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 (and I’d drain any juice from the can). Hope you enjoy!
This was absolutely fabulous! Everyone loves it so much and my 15 year old son asks for it all the time! The dish absolutely bursts with flavor. This is the second time we’ve made it and it is a huge success.
Excellent! We used our favor brand of Seggiano pasta along with this delicious recipe and loved it!
Absolutely delicious! The 2 of us ate the whole pan. This recipe is a keeper!
This was SPECTACULAR! I made it for our Christmas Eve supper ad we devoured it. Made 40% more sauce as per other commenters and I had to use canned baby clams so I also added half a cup of the clam juice in. Everyone agreed this was a big winner!
Five stars and beyond. So easy, so delicious. Husband said best he had ever had and he is a tough critic. Stick to the recipe and it is perfection without fail!!!
First time cooking with little neck clams and this came out great! Easy to follow and the recipe is sooooo delicious! I was intimated when I cooked the clams in 5min, I was thinking it would take a bit longer, however it came out great!
This is BY FAR the best way to do it…
Amazing how one can hit all the notes with simplicity…
Make it Di CECCO linguine (while you’re at it), and use fresh clams & fresh Italian parsley from your herb garden… & yes, use the butter…
All I’m doing is repeating things here… You nailed it…
Watching your recipe being prepared by Alexandra Breckinridge and Martin Henderson .. on Instagram live …
they are the two primary acts on the Netflix series…Virgin River!
Made this dish for my mother’s 75th birthday as linguine & clams happens to be one of her all time favorites.
I am not a well practiced cook but you made me look like a hero and my mother was thrilled with the dish.
Absolutely delicious, will be making this one over and over and over and over again!
We had canceled dinner plans and nothing defrosted for dinner.. This recipe saved the night with just a couple of substitutions. I substituted fresh for a can of clams and saved the cup of clam juice and used it in lieu of the wine. Absolutely delicious..made me look like a rock star chef to the husband!
Living in New England, my husband and I have had linguine and clams hundreds of times; it is one of our favorite dishes. When I followed your recipe, my husband claimed it to be THE BEST he has ever had. I have to agree. Last time, I cooked. Tonight, he will make this dish.
we went clamming today, so was excited to try this recipe. i used a 9oz pkg of fresh linguine and all of the sauce which worked perfectly for 2 people.did not need the pasta water. no cheese added and not missed. i also used a mixture of parsely, thyme and oregano based on what’s left in my herb garden.
Jenn, I made your recipe tonight (6 September 2021). I’m enjoying a glass of sauvignon blanc and smelling the garlic as I keep the dish on warm when I watch the news. Your instructions and the photos were invaluable! I’m not a fancy cook but was able to follow you.
This will be my to-go recipe when I make clams and linguine.
Has anyone tried it with basil instead of parsley?
Delicious! forgot to add the butter which would have brought it over the top but it was great anyway! Highly recommend.
Phenomenal, even with canned clams!!
This is one of my favourite meals at my favourite Italian Restaurant and I cooked your recipe last night for a friend of my who normally has this same dish at the restaurant. Well we were thoroughly impressed with the meal, this morning I was thinking who else can I make that for! By the way I also used canned baby clams and I threw in some chopped fresh shrimp otherwise I followed it to the T. Thank you so much!
We have been making clam linguine for years and it is a family favorite. I saw this recipe and thought I’d give it a try. It is easy to put together and absolutely delicious. Probably the best I’ve ever eaten. I did add canned clams, clam juice and diced Roma tomatoes. I also used fresh pasta.
This was outstanding. Definitely restaurant quality. As per other reviewers, I just about doubled the sauce because it’s great for bread dipping! I used 4 dozen clams for 4 people and supplemented with 3 small cans of drained chopped clams that I cooked in the sauce.
I did not have enough sauce and I used 3 cans of clams and some of the juice. For a pound of pasta I think it needed double the sauce. Anyone else find that too?
I’m making it tonight. Have read about the lack of sauce in other reviews. Will double the sauce tonight.
Can I used canned clams? How many ounces? Do I use the juice too? Thank you very much!
Sure, 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 (and I’d drain any juice from the can). I would guesstimate that you’ll need about 12 – 16 ounces. Hope that helps!
Best version of this dish I have ever eaten in my 66 years on earth. I followed the recipe to the letter and added two cans of minced clams and 1 cup grated parmesan at the same time lemon/lemon zest were added. Sensational!
Great recipe! I halved for two and added 1/2 cup of clam juice because I had it leftover. It’s great even with personal changes!
wow just wow. I have never cooked clams before. We were gifted some fresh ones from Washington state so I had to figure what to do. Found this recipe. Incredibly tasty. Easy instructions. The clam advice was so important. This was far better than any equivalent I have ever had at a restaurant.
Wow! I’ve made linguine with clams a gazillion times but this recipe took the cake. Just the right amount of garlic, shallots, lemon, seasonings, etc. Thank you again, Jen!
Excellent dish!! I have made this multiple times now, and its my go-to dish for linguini with clams.
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.
Made for my wife for her bday dinner and it was a big hit. Will definitely make again.
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.
What is the size of your saute pan?
Hi Leslie, It’s a 12-inch pan.
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!!
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.
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!
Ended up putting 1/4 cup of parsley in due to the comma….
Doesn’t the recipe call for
This amount? About to make this weekend!
Hi LB, it calls for 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons. Hope you enjoy!
and that’s exactly right
Delicious and so easy to make. My “go to” meal when I want to impress and enjoy!
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.
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.
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
My absolute favorite go to for clams and linguine! My boyfriend and I love this perfect recipe!
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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!