Linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams)

Linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams)

Linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams )

Of all the wonderful seafood pasta recipes there are here in Italy, pasta alle vongole is probably the top of the best seller list. Not surprising given how delicious this iconic Neapolitan dish is! This linguine pasta alle vongole is my Sicilian hubby’s recipe. He’s pretty generous with the garlic and peperoncino but it’s just the way I like it!

(Scroll down to get to the recipe)

Linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams )

Red or white?

Like many other similar dishes, pasta with clams is traditionally made in what Italians call a red or white version (rosso o bianco); in other words, with tomatoes or without. We normally eat it without tomatoes. My hubby is the chef when we want to eat pasta alle vongole. Being Sicilian, he’s a star when it comes to seafood dishes and I’m happy to leave him to it. In my opinion, his pasta with clams is the best I’ve ever tasted and I’m not saying that because we’re married! 

My Sicilian husband Salvatore serving the Linguine pasta alle vongole he cooked
My Sicilian husband Salvatore serving his linguine pasta alle vongole

The clams or vongole.

The main ingredient for a ‘real’ pasta alle vongole is ‘vongola verace’ commonly known as the cross-cut carpet shell clam. This ridged shell clam is found both farmed and wild here in Italy, but I’ve read that the taste is the same as they eat only what’s in the sea. If you do find vongole veraci, they can be a bit more expensive than other clams. But they are worth it! However, apart from being really delicious, these clams are self-cleaning so they’re unlikely to have sand in them and make the dish much easier to prepare.

Ingredients for pasta alle vongole on a white plate

Of course, many people make pasta alle vongole with other types of clams. The Manila clam, which many Italians call the fake ‘verace’, is widely farmed in the Adriatic sea and Sardinia. Consequently these are used by many cooks to make pasta alle vongole. 

vongole (clams ) in frying pan for linguine pasta alle vongole

Manila clams look very similar to vongole veraci. Another popular clam is the rayed artemis clam. These are smaller, whiter and more rounded but still taste really good too! Of course it’s possible to use tinned clams, but in my opinion you won’t get anywhere near the same flavour, as with fresh clams.

removing cooked clams from their shells for pasta alle vongole

The pasta.

Traditionally this recipe is made with spaghetti, vermicelli or linguine. We used linguine made by Pasta Liguori, one of the producers of Pasta di Gragnano IGP. This is one of the best pastas in Italy and worth looking out for! I prefer linguine for this dish because this pasta has more surface area to soak up the sauce. But, any narrow long pasta works well. Italians don’t usually use short pasta in this dish.

cooked clam sauce in large pot for pasta alle vongole

Other ingredients.

Apart from the linguine and clams, this linguine pasta alle vongole recipe has very few other ingredients. In fact, most versions contain nothing more than garlic, peperoncino (Italian red chili pepper), white wine, olive oil and parsley.

Clam sauce for linguine pasta alle vongole in white bowl

I recently read an article about this recipe that said, if you’re going to spend a bit for fresh clams, then you don’t want to smother their taste with lots of other flavours. I really agree with this point of view! Having said that, my hubby is pretty generous with the garlic and peperoncino. But, you can use less if you prefer!

Clam sauce and pasta for linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams ) in white bowl

Nota Bene!

There are just 2 points that need care to make sure your linguine pasta alle vongole is perfect. Firstly, in this version the clams are cooked alone first. Then you will need to remove the meat from most of them, keeping just a few in their shells to make the dish look more appetizing! It’s important to discard any unopened shells as this means the clam is dead. Don’t try to open and eat unopened clams! Secondly, if the liquid from the clams appears to have sand in it then it’s best to filter it before adding the cooked clams and liquid to the rest of the sauce ingredients. 

Linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams)

Easy to make.

This is a dish that many people order in restaurants but rarely make at home. However, it’s actually pretty easy and there’s no residue fishy smell in the kitchen. What you’ll get is a wonderful garlicky aroma that is so mouth- watering! My hubby is quite generous with the garlic and peperoncino, as we like it that way, but you can reduce the quantities if you prefer. We sometimes cook the clams and eat them without pasta, just a bit of bread to soak up the sauce. Delicious too!

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Buon appetito!

If you like linguine you will probably love this other classic recipe from Campania

Linguine al limone (with lemon and cream)

If you like seafood pasta recipes try this one from Puglia

Mussels alla Tarantina

Save this recipe for later?

If you want to save this delicious linguine pasta alle vongole recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.

5 from 27 votes
Seafood pasta recipes linguine pasta alle vongole - linguine with clams
Linguine pasta alle vongole (linguine with clams)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
24 mins
Total Time
39 mins

This classic seafood pasta recipe from Campania is simple to make and bursting with flavour.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Campania, Italian, Southern Italian
Keyword: clams, Italian food, linguine, seafood, seafood pasta
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 320-400 g linguine or vermicelli or spaghetti
  • 800 g fresh clams (about 200g per person)
  • 3-5 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 peperoncino (red chili pepper) or dried flakes amount depends on your preference
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 handfuls fresh parsley finely chopped
  • salt to taste (we don't add it to the pasta cooking water)
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  1. Chop the peeled garlic and parsley finely. If using a whole fresh or dried red chili chop finely too. Remove the seeds to make it milder. Be careful not to touch your eyes or mouth after doing this and wash your hands well before continuing to cook.

  2. Wash the clams in cold water and remove any with broken shells. Some kinds of clams need a lot of rinsing if they have sand in them. But you can also filter the liquid after you have precooked them, so don’t worry so much about the sand.

  3. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it starts to boil add the pasta. You probably don’t need salt as the clams will already be a little salty. 

  4. While the water is boiling for the pasta, put the clams in a deep frying pan and cook covered over a medium to high heat until they have opened. (about 5 minutes)

  5. Allow the clams to cool a little and then remove the meat from most of the clam shells keeping some intact. Discard the empty shells and, if necessary, filter the liquid that the clams have produced. Don't discard it. 

  6. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.

  7. Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet. Add the garlic and peperoncino. Cook until the garlic starts to soften. Add the clams (with shells and without) with their liquid to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the white wine and cook further until the alcohol evaporates. Finally, add the parsley and the rest of the olive oil. Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes and then turn off the heat.

  8. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add to the pan with the cooked clams. Mix everything together well and serve immediately with another sprinkling of chopped parsley, if required.

Purging the clams
  1. With vongole veraci it's usually not necessary to do more than rinse the clams under running water. So we never purge them.

  2. However, some people prefer to purge the clams of sand before cooking them. This involves filling a large bowl with cold water and stirring in enough salt to make it salty like the sea. Adding the clams and letting them stand for 30 minutes. The clams will open and release any sand they have inside. You then need to lift the clams from the water and discard the water. If there is sand in the bottom of the bowl, rinse it out and repeat this process until the clams no longer release sand into the water (usually 2 to 3 purging cycles). Discard any clams that are gaping open and refuse to close when prodded.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is traditionally served with spaghetti, vermicelli or linguine.

Remember to throw out any clams that don't open during the first phase of cooking them. 


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linguine pasta alle vongole - pasta with clams

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  • Avatar
    August 5, 2019 3:06 am

    I’m Italian, and grew up with simple pasta dishes such as this. Your husband’s technique was a bit different than I’ve used in the past. I followed this to the letter, and the resulting dish was perfection. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    April 28, 2019 9:33 pm

    This is such a favorite dish – so easy but delicious. I have lovely memories enjoying it in Rome, really should make it at home soon. Yours looks great!

  • Avatar
    April 28, 2019 9:33 pm

    This is making me so hungry! It looks absolutely yummy and we love clams in our house, so I can’t wait to make it!

  • Avatar
    April 28, 2019 9:04 pm

    Thanks for the note about unopened clams. So good to know!

  • Avatar
    Andrea Metlika
    April 28, 2019 7:47 pm

    Wow, this is absolutely divine. I love everything about this linguine with clams!

  • Avatar
    sue | the view from great island
    April 28, 2019 4:55 pm

    This has been on my to-make list for way too long, you’ve inspired me to get to it ~ I love mine white, with tiny clams, yum!

  • Avatar
    April 2, 2019 5:30 pm

    Thank you for BEAUTIFUL reminder to make this lovely dish, forgive me, but I will use Angel Hair or Capellinni pasta to lower carbs + because clams are so delicate. I would use fettucini if I added mussles + scallops to this recipe plus red pepper flake for a Fra Diavolo version! Uh oh, my tummy is growling…

    • Jacqui
      April 3, 2019 8:42 am

      Thanks for your comment Nina! I’m glad you liked my post! I think angel hair would go well with the clams! This is my favourite seafood pasta, especially since my Sicilian hubby usually makes it for me! I think I fell in love with him because of this dish! The way to this girl’s heart is def through her stomach!!

  • Avatar
    March 24, 2019 1:55 am

    Mmmm I love all things pasta and my husband loves seafood. I’ll definitely have to try this one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      April 28, 2019 4:40 pm

      I’m sure you and your hubby will love this dish Rosa!

  • Avatar
    March 24, 2019 1:42 am

    Wowie! I didn’t have all the fresh ingredients you used, which I’m jealous about. But I made a similar version and it came out fantastic. Ciao!

    • Jacqui
      April 28, 2019 4:41 pm

      So happy you enjoyed this recipe Jenna!

  • Avatar
    March 23, 2019 9:07 pm

    We ate this in Rome and I have been meaning to make it at home. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Jacqui
      April 28, 2019 4:43 pm

      I’m sure the pasta alle vongole you had in Rome was really good, Dannii! It’s quite easy to make at home, I’m sure you’ll enjoy making it!

  • Avatar
    Veena Azmanov
    March 23, 2019 8:43 pm

    This dish is unique and pasta is one of my family favorite too. Love the flavors infused to making this. Have to try it this weekend.

    • Jacqui
      April 28, 2019 4:46 pm

      This is a wonderful classic seafood pasta recipe Veena! I’m sure you’ll love it!

  • Avatar
    March 23, 2019 8:30 pm

    What a gorgeous and delicious dish! Truly an elegant meal – I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t be impressed!

    • Jacqui
      April 28, 2019 4:48 pm

      Thank you Monica! Yes linguine alla vongole is definitely a dish to impress guests with and it’s actually quite easy to make too!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 5:50 pm

    Such a good recipe especially to have on a special occasion or date night. Pasta is one of my favorites and it’s just so comforting.

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:40 pm

      Thanks for your comment Stephanie! Yes this is a fab recipe for special occasions!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 5:21 pm

    My husband loves any kind of seafood dish and loves pasta too, so this would be perfect for him.

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:40 pm

      Pasta and seafood is so delicious Danielle! I’m sure your hubby would love this!

  • Avatar
    Jessica Formicola
    October 30, 2018 5:15 pm

    This is my kind of pasta! My family would love this!

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:41 pm

      I’m sure they will Jessica! This is so delicious!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 5:15 pm

    Oh, clams are a favorite of mine, and this looks so flavorful. It’d be such a nice pasta dish for the holidays. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:42 pm

      I love clams too Amanda, especially cooked this way! I’m sure you’ll love this dish!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 5:08 pm

    This dish pasta and clam dish look so, so good. Perfect dinner with a glass of wine after a long day.

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:43 pm

      Thank you Erin! Yes a glass of wine is a must!

  • Avatar
    Sally Humeniuk
    October 30, 2018 4:23 pm

    I love all the ingredients in this recipe! So fresh, and your photos are so helpful in preparing all the parts of this simple but sumptuous meal.

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:44 pm

      Thank you Sally! I’m happy you like the photos!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 4:14 pm

    This looks so good! Wish I was there when you made this pasta dish :)!

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:47 pm

      There’s always room and enough foods for guests at our table Julia!

  • Avatar
    Lauren Vavala | DeliciousLittleBites
    October 30, 2018 4:12 pm

    I was just telling my fiance how my parents would make linquine with clam sauce when I was growing up. They used canned sauce, but this fresh version looks incredibly! We love tons of garlic and spice too, so no cutting back here!

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:48 pm

      Fresh clams are definitely best Lauren but I know they aren’t easy to find everywhere! I’m sure your parents made great pasta alle vongole!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 3:46 pm

    What a great recipe! So simple, beautiful ingredients, and full of flavor! I’ve never played with clams and I need to do that soon! Thanks for sharing this beauty…pinned!

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:50 pm

      Grazie Traci! Yes sometimes the simplest combination of ingredients are the tastiest as this recipe proves! I hope you’ll try it!

  • Avatar
    October 30, 2018 3:42 pm

    Oh my goodness. How lucky to have a cooking husband! And Sicilian to boot! That dish looks like one I could sink my teeth into.

    • Jacqui
      March 23, 2019 6:51 pm

      Thanks Pam, yes I feel blessed that my hubby loves to cook, especially seafood!

  • Avatar
    July 1, 2018 2:30 pm

    Pasta alle vongole is my favourite pasta dish. I just love it.
    Can’t wait to try your version 😀

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 8:32 am

      Thanks Claire! It’s one of my favourites too, especially when cooked by my hubby! I’m sure you’ll love this version! All the best from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    sara | belly rumbles
    July 1, 2018 2:16 pm

    I’m a vongole girl all the way, and white wine too. You have shared my fave pasta with some great tips and info for me to take on, thanks!

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 8:33 am

      Thanks Sara, glad you found the post useful! I’m a vongole girl too! I could eat this every week! Hugs from Verona, Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    July 1, 2018 1:41 pm

    I absolutely adore seafood pasta so this sounds amazing to me. This looks absolutely incredible, I’ll have to give it a try

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 8:35 am

      Thanks so much Bintu! Yes, seafood pasta is the best, especially in summer! Am sure you’ll love this recipe! Love from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
    July 1, 2018 1:35 pm

    I want to dive right into this pasta bowl. I love clams and I never make them at home because I just feel like it’s a hassle. You make it look easy and I love all your step by step photos. Lovely dish!

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 8:37 am

      Aww thanks a lot Karen! Actually clams are easy to make at home. They don’t take long and don’t make the house smell of fish! We eat them a lot, even without pasta! I hope you’ll try cooking them yourself! Baci from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    linda spiker
    July 1, 2018 8:50 am

    We were in Italy last week and enjoyed so many amazing pasta dishes. This looks like heaven!

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 8:59 am

      How nice that you were so recently here in Italy Linda! Yes, so many amazing pasta dishes to eat here! Sometimes it’s impossible to choose! But certainly, you are right, this dish is heaven! Baci from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Sophia Henri
    June 26, 2018 10:04 am

    My favourite pasta al Bello Fratello! xxx

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 9:07 am

      Thank you bella sorella! I know you love it! We’ll have some ready for you next time you come to visit! Baci

  • Avatar
    June 23, 2018 9:22 pm

    It was very interesting to find out about the different types of clam – there are so many! But this linguine pasta alle vongole is definitely one of a kind!

    • admin
      July 2, 2018 9:08 am

      Happy that you liked this post and recipe Helena! Yes pasta alle vongole is a very special dish loved by many including me!! Hugs from Verona, Jacqui.

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