Spaghetti alle Vongole (Pasta with Clam Sauce)

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This is one of those dishes that only has a handful of ingredients, but they come together to make one of the most delicious Italian dishes in the world.

You’ll want to choose top-notch ingredients for this simple, yet elevated pasta dish. If you’re really wanting to hit it out of the park, make your own egg pasta from scratch. Be sure to have plenty of bread on hand to soak up that irresistible sauce!

An overhead view of a large stainless steel skillet filled with spaghetti all vongole with opened clams resting on top of the cooked pasta and two serving utensils inserted into the side of the dish.

How To Make Spaghetti alle Vongole


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The Ingredients You Will Need

As mentioned, there are just a handful of ingredients needed for this iconic dish. We give some recommendations on what you should have on hand to make at home:

Clams – We go with farm-raised from Whole Foods, but fresh are excellent choices. See NOTES on how to remove sand from the clams. Cockles are traditional in pasta alle vongole. These can be ordered from Citarella.
Pasta – Spaghetti or linguine is traditional. Homemade pasta is wonderful. The pasta we used in the video is organic spaghetti all chitarra.
Oil – Olive oil or extra-virgin.
Garlic – Minced. We go with 6 to 8 cloves. If you like your pasta with an extra-strong garlic flavor, increase the amount of cloves to 10 to 16.
White wine – A decent-quality dry wine is recommended. Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are both excellent choices.
Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes are all that you need.
Parsley – Fresh and chopped.
Lemons – For garnish.

EXPERT TIP: Wine is a key ingredient in this dish. 99.9% of the alcohol will cook out. You can substitute seafood stock or clam juice if you don’t want to cook with any alcohol.

A person pouring white wine from a glass measuring cup into a skillet filled with unopened littleneck clams.

Tips for Perfect Spaghetti alle Vongole

Fresh Clams are Key – Opt for fresh, high-quality clams for the best flavor. Look for littleneck or Manila clams, and make sure they are scrubbed clean before cooking to remove any sand or grit. Discard any clams that don’t open during the steaming process.

Sauté the Garlic, but Not in Butter – Garlic is another key ingredient. It combined with a pinch of red pepper flakes is the perfect match for the slightly sweet clams. Butter is not traditionally used. It can distract from the essence of the clams.

White Wine Deepens the Flavor Profile – Deglaze the skillet with a splash of dry white wine after sautéing the garlic. The wine will add depth and complexity to the sauce, enhancing the overall flavor of the dish.

Cook the Pasta al Dente – Cook the spaghetti just until it is al dente, then transfer it directly to the skillet with the clams and sauce. Toss the pasta in the flavorful sauce, allowing it to absorb the delicious flavors.

EXPERT TIP: When steaming the clams in the wine and garlic, it should only take about 8 to 10 minutes for them to fully open. However, if you are using chilled wine, it may take longer. Some clams will open up with a little help from a knife or fork. If a clam won’t open, you’ll need to discard it.

A close-up view of littleneck clams that have opened their shells and are simmering in white wine in a large stainless steel skillet.

How To Serve

This dish is best served soon after the clams have opened. Don’t simmer the clams in the sauce for too long after they have opened because it will make the clams tough and rubbery.

Be sure to save some of the pasta water if you want to have more liquid in the sauce.

We remove about half of the opened clams from the sauce before adding the pasta. Of these, we remove the clams from the shells and then stir them into the sauce once it has been tossed with the sauce. Placing the remaining clams (in their shells) on top of individual servings is beautiful and allows guests to pick the clams out themselves.

We highly recommend having plenty of warm, crusty bread on hand to soak up the amazingly delicious sauce.

A person using a pair of tongs to place cooked spaghetti into a skillet filled with clam broth and sautéed garlic.

Other Classic Pasta Recipes to Try

Practically everyone loves a good bowl of pasta. And here are some classics that we are certain you and your family will absolutely love, especially when they are homemade!

White Wine Mussels with Linguine
Spinach Linguine with Wild Mushroom Sauce
Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Pasta Carbonara
Pasta Primavera
Pappardelle with Seasonal Vegetables
Pasta alla Norma
Pasta Pomodoro
Shrimp Marinara with Angel Hair Pasta
Pasta with Turkey and Sweet Pepper Ragu

These are all amazing pasta dishes without a doubt. But, in the meantime, isn’t this iconic dish calling your name?

An overhead view of a white pasta bowl filled with a serving of spaghetti alle vongole with clams in their shell sitting on top and piece of toasted bread next to the bowl.

For plating, we divide the pasta between four pasta bowls, adding more clams in their shells and a few spoonfuls of broth on top of each.

This is one of the most delicious pasta dishes we have ever made, eaten, or served. And what is truly incredible is that it comes together in less than 30 minutes!

Folks, let us tell you again what makes this Spaghetti alle Vongole superior: Fresh, high-quality ingredients with a simple, yet perfect approach to preparing the dish.

A fork and spoon being used to raise cooked spaghetti and a clam over a bowl of spaghetti alle vongole which is pasta with clam sauce.

Ready to make the best pasta dish this side of the Italian Amalfi Coast? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

An overhead view of a large stainless steel skillet filled with spaghetti all vongole with opened clams resting on top of the cooked pasta and two serving utensils inserted into the side of the dish.

Spaghetti alle Vongole

Spaghetti alle Vongole (Pasta with Clams) is one for the record books.  Just a few top-quality ingredients and a straightforward approach to preparation make a stunning dish in taste and presentation.  This is one recipe you and your loved ones will be talking about for a long time. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree / Seafood
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Clams, Cockles, how to make spaghetti all vongole, Pasta
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 551kcal


  • 1 large (12") skillet with lid


  • 3 lbs clams littleneck, Manila, or New Zealand cockles
  • 13.5 oz spaghetti or up to 1 lb
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup white wine dry
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • red pepper flakes for serving (optional)
  • lemon wedges for serving


  • Rinse the clams thoroughly, making sure no sand remains. If they are sanding, soak them in salted water for 1 hour and then rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
    3 lbs clams
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook according to the package instructions until al dente.  Save about 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta and set aside.
    13.5 oz spaghetti, sea salt and black pepper
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring often until the garlic just starts to turn golden, about 3 minutes.
    3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 8 cloves garlic
  • Add the clams and the wine and cover the pan.  Steam until the shells open, about 8 minutes, discarding any that do not open. (You can continue to cook the unopened ones for a few more minutes because some may take a little longer.)
    1 cup white wine
  • Remove half of the opened clams and place on a platter. If desired, remove the clams from the shells (that you placed on the platter). Stir in 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper to the sauce. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir in 1 tbsp of parsley and a pinch of red pepper flakes. If you want more sauce, add some of the reserved pasta water. Gently toss the pasta with the clams and sauce.
    2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, red pepper flakes
  • Divide the pasta between 4 shallow bowls and top with some of the whole clams in their shells and the remaining chopped parsley. Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.
    lemon wedges


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
Most farm-raised clams are sand-free. If your clams have sand, place them in salt water for at least one hour and then rinse thoroughly. The salt will pull the sand and grit from inside the clams.
If any clams are broken before steaming, they should be discarded. Also, any clams that do not open during the steaming process should be discarded.
Be careful not to add too much salt. If you are adding any of the reserved pasta water, it will be somewhat salty. Add a little salt to the sauce and do a taste test. Add more until the desired seasoning is reached. 
Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for several days. Reheat on the stove with a little extra seafood stock, clam juice, or water. 


Calories: 551kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 40mg | Potassium: 315mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 322IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This was originally published in March 2019, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in March, 2024!

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