Spaghetti Alle Vongole (Spaghetti With Clams): the Original Recipe for a Classic Italian Main Dish!

Total time: 40 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist

Spaghetti Alle Vongole (pronounced spuh-GEH-tee ah-leh VON-goh-leh) and translated to "spaghetti with clams" is a typical main dish of Italian cuisine, particularly that of Campania, one of the best known and loved fish pasta dishes, thanks to its simplicity. The original recipe we offer you features the spaghetti seasoned with a white sauce based on clams, oil, chili pepper and parsley, for a delicious result. Spaghetti with clams is a perfect dish for any occasion, for a family lunch, for a dinner with friends or for a party table.

It is an easy and quick preparation, but which can be also difficult. To avoid falling into mistakes, it is important to follow some simple precautions and to use the freshest ingredients of excellent quality. For an impeccable result, it is essential to keep the clams in their cooking liquid, drain the pasta al dente and continue cooking in a pan with the sauce, over high heat. So let’s find out all the steps and tips of this recipe.

What Are Spaghetti Alle Vongole?

Spaghetti alle vongole is a classic Italian dish that hails from the coastal regions of Italy, particularly Naples and the Campania region. This simple yet flavorful pasta dish is made with fresh clams, olive oil, white wine, parsley, and a touch of red pepper flakes for heat. Traditionally, it can be prepared in two ways: "in bianco" (without tomatoes) or "in rosso" (with tomatoes). The origins of spaghetti alle vongole can be traced back to the culinary traditions of Italian fishermen who utilized the abundant clams from the Mediterranean Sea. Over time, it has become a beloved staple in Italian cuisine, celebrated for its fresh, briny taste and straightforward preparation.

Tips to Get the Best Spaghetti Alle Vongole

  • Fresh clams are essential for the best flavor. Ensure they are alive before cooking—discard any with broken shells or that do not close when tapped. Soak the clams in salted water for about 20 minutes to remove any sand. Rinse them thoroughly afterward.
  • Cook the clams just until they open, usually about 5-7 minutes. Overcooking can make them tough and rubbery.
  • Clams can be salty, so taste the dish before adding extra salt.
  • Traditionally, cheese is not added to seafood pasta dishes in Italy as it can overpower the delicate flavors.
  • Spaghetti alle vongole is best enjoyed fresh off the stove, so have everything ready to serve immediately.

What are The Best Types of Clams to Use for This Recipe?

When you want to serve pasta with whole clams in their shells, it is best to prefer littlenecks or manilas clams. Another option is to also use smaller clams such as Egit that are just an inch in diameter.

Can I Use Canned Clams?

Yes, but only if fresh ones are unavailable. Just be sure to use high-quality canned clams and reserve some of the clam juice to enhance the sauce.

Why Do My Clams Feel All Rubbery and Weird?

Clams might feel rubbery if they are overcooked. Cook them just until they open, usually 5-7 minutes, to maintain a tender texture. Overcooking makes them tough and chewy.

Can I Change the Type of Pasta Used for This Recipe?

Yes, you can change the type of pasta used for this recipe. While spaghetti is traditional, other long pasta like linguine or fettuccine can be used as well. These shapes hold the sauce nicely and complement the clams well.

Can I Make This in Advance?

Spaghetti alle vongole is best enjoyed immediately after it's made, as the clams and pasta are at their freshest and most flavorful. Making it in advance can lead to overcooked clams and soggy pasta. For the best taste and texture, prepare and serve it right away.

How to Store Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Spaghetti Alle Vongole is best if enjoyed fresh, as soon as it's made. Leftovers usually don't keep well.


320 grams
1 kg
1 small tuft
Extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp
White wine
125 ml
Red chili pepper
to taste
to taste

How to Make Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a pan. Then add the garlic clove, chili pepper and parsley stems.

Plunge the clams, add a little bit of white wine and cover the pan until all the clams have opened up.

Once they have opened, strain their juice and save it. Remove the clams from their shells and keep a few for decoration.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water and strain them 3 minutes before the cooking time indicated on the packet. In the pan where you cooked the clams, add their juice.

Add the spaghetti to the pan with the clams' juice and a splash of their cooking water. When the liquid is almost absorbed, add the clams, a drizzle of olive oil and finely chopped parsley. Sautee the spaghetti and let all the ingredients mix well together.

Plate the spaghetti and decorate with fresh parsley and the clams still in their shell. Enjoy!

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