Spaghetti Alle Vongole

Spaghetti Vongole Recipe

Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti with clams), is a sublimely simple pasta made with clams, garlic, olive oil, peppers and a bit of parsley. Yep, that’s it! No cream, no tomato sauce, and most certainly no cheese. Some like to add tomatoes, but personally I love the simplicity of the briny clams interacting with the fresh green notes of the olive oil and parsley.

I’ve also seen people use a blend of butter and olive oil to make their Spaghetti alle Vongole because it forms an emulsion, making the sauce adhere to the pasta better. While this reasoning may be technically sound, the rich butter tends to coat your tongue and makes this fresh dish taste heavier than it needs to be.

With Valentine’s day falling on a Friday this year, chances are you don’t have all day to make an elaborate dinner. This pasta is simple enough for a beginner to tackle but delicious enough to impress even the most jaded foodie. Best of all, if you clean up as you go, and share a plate with your sweetheart, you’ll be left with a pan, a plate and two forks to wash, leaving the rest of the evening open for other things… like dessert!

While simple and quick to prepare the one thing that may literally muck you up is the dirt and sand that clams tend to contain. To ensure you’re biting into briny clams and not gritty mud, you need to allow ample time for you clams to expel any silt they’ve sucked in. Just buy your clams a day or two ahead of time and soak them in salt water until you’re ready to use them.

Normally with pasta I encourage you to generously salt the water before boiling the pasta, but Spaghetti alle Vongole is one exception. That’s because the clams can be very salty and if you salt the pasta water you’ll end up with over-salted pasta.

Equipment you'll need:

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    Votes: 6
    Rating: 4.5
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    Spaghetti Alle Vongole
  • This simple six ingredient clam pasta is easy to make and yet incredibly tasty.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
2 people 5 minutes 10 minutes


  • 450 grams Manilla clams
  • 180 grams dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 grams garlic (~2 medium cloves)
  • 1 chili pepper minced
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 7 grams flat leaf parsley (a small handful)
Servings: people


  1. As soon as you buy the clams, put them in a large container and fill with salt water (it should taste like the sea). Over the next day or two watch the water as the clams spit out sand. If you see a lot of sand accumulating on the bottom, rinse the clams and change the water.
  2. When you're ready to make the pasta, boil the spaghetti for one minute less than the time specified on the package in lightly salted water. This is because it will finish cooking in the sauce
  3. When the pasta is about 3 minutes away from being done, add the olive oil, garlic and chili peppers to a large pan over medium heat until the garlic starts to sizzle and becomes fragrant.
  4. Add the clams and wine and then cover the pan with a lid. Let the clams steam until half of them are open.
  5. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to high and boil the mixture until the rest of the clams open. If some clams don't open, discard the ones that don't open.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the clams along with the parsley. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
  • uaskigyrl

    Hi! What kind of chili peppers did you use?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi uaskigyrl, I used something similar to an Italian peperoncino. Its a red chili pepper with medium heat. Be careful not to confuse this with the pickled light green American “peperoncini”, which is a totally different pepper.

  • uaskigyrl

    Hi! What peppers did you use?

  • croswhit

    Looks great, but did all of the wonderful-looking broth come from just the wine+oil?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi croswhit, the liquid comes from the clams. The wine is just there for flavor and for some initial steam that gets the clams to start opening.

      • croswhit

        Cool – thanks!

  • nuance

    What dry white wine do you recommend? I have no idea what wines to use to make outstanding tasty food and would like any suggestions. Dry white wine, dry red wine, etc

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Nuance, honestly the list of wines that would work for this (and most dishes for that matter) is longer than the list of wines that won’t, which is why I usually call for wine by generic descriptions such as “dry white”. The word “dry” in the world of wine is used to describe the opposite of “sweet”. So when I call for a “dry white” I’m calling for a white wine that is not sweet. For the purposes of cooking wines that fit into the “dry and “off-dry” category will work. For example, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariños, Viogniers, Pinot Grigio, some Chardonnays, and even some off-dry Rieslings. What you want to avoid are ones that tend to be sweet like Sauternes, Rieslings, Gewürztraminers and dessert wines. I’ve specified by grape, there are always exceptions because sweetness often has more to do with the time in which it was picked than the grape itself (i.e. the later it’s picked the riper it is). Even if you accidentally use a sweeter wine, it’s not going to ruin your dish, it will just make it sweeter. What will ruin your dish is using a “cooking wine”. They always have salt and other things added to make them undrinkable (which is how they get around alcohol taxes). Because cooking burns off a lot of nuances which set cheap wines apart from expensive wines, you don’t need to use an expense wine to cook with, but you should never use a wine you would not drink.

  • KD

    Marc! Love the servings calculator: nice! Your recipe reminded me how much I love clams & spaghetti rather than spaghetti & clams (not that there’s a difference here, just that I hoard clams.) Am making this pronto! Thank you for teaching about soaking the clams.

  • Nero di Seppia

    This really is the Italian way to cook spaghetti with vongole ;) well done!


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!