Spaghetti with Clams: Original Neapolitan recipe

Although this dish is known as “spaghetti alle vongole” (spaghetti with clams), according to Neapolitan tradition, it is also possible to use vermicelli or linguine.

Spaghetti must be coarse and with a porous surface, you can take bronze drawn ones, but remember to choose a quality pasta, maybe artisanal. This is because they must “welcome” the sauce of the clams, retain it and flavor well in the pan.

Spaghetti with clams should be sprinkled with wine which must be rigorously white, still and of excellent quality.

We suggest a dry white wine, with a hint of acidity in order to contrast the sweetness of clams and the starch of pasta.


Why doesn’t this recipe purge the clams by soaking them in salt water like everyone else does?

It is good to be clear.

Purging the clams in salt water is a serious mistake that compromises the entire result. In fact, the original recipe does not call for it, and there is a very important reason for this.

If we soak the clams in salted water they will open, believing to be in the sea, and besides eliminating the sand, they will lose all the precious liquid inside, which is used to flavor the spaghetti, and to give the pasta its characteristic taste.

Spaghetti with Clams

Spaghetti with clams is a first course fish dish typical of Neapolitan cuisine, a real treat that puts everyone in agreement!
The original recipe is quick and also quite simple, but it must be done by carefully following all the steps, which are essential not to ruin the clams and get a tasty and delicious sauce.
The ingredients are few and simple, as all the recipes of the Neapolitan tradition, so for this reason it is necessary to focus on quality.
Course Italian Pasta
Servings 4


  • 1 kg 35 oz of clams
  • 300 gr 10 oz of bronze drawn spaghetti
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprig of parsley
  • 8 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 100 ml 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • Salt to taste


  • Rinse the clams several times under running water using a salad bowl, but do not let them soak. Continue until there is no more sand on the bottom.
  • Take a non-stick pan and put 4 – 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic. Heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Chop the parsley very fine using a well-sharpened knife or a crescent moon.
  • Add the unopened clams to the pan, put the lid on and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
  • After this time has elapsed, the clams will have opened. If you notice that many of them are still closed, you can continue cooking them for a couple of minutes more.
  • After this time the clams that remain closed must be thrown away, because they are dead and not good.
  • Do not force the opening of the clams because they would make the sauce more bitter and do not prolong cooking further because you risk ruining everything.
  • Collect the clams and place them in a colander, let them cool and then clean them well under running water to remove any residual sand.
  • Collect the sauce released by the clams in the pan, filter it with a very fine cotton cloth or with a tea towel, in order to eliminate any impurities and sand residues.
  • This is an important step because the liquid released by the clams is very good and will add flavor to the pasta.
  • Now shell the clams, remembering to keep some with the shell aside, which will be used for the decoration of the dish.
  • In the skillet in which you cooked the clams, place 4 – 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the chopped parsley and the clams. Sauté for 2 minutes over high heat, stirring often.
  • Now deglaze with white wine and continue cooking for a few more minutes, then turn off the heat.
  • At this point remove the clams from the pan and place them in a bowl, cover and keep warm.
  • The clams should be removed so as not to ruin them while you complete the cooking of the spaghetti in the sauce.
  • In the meantime cook the spaghetti in plenty of water to which you must add a little salt.
  • Drain pasta when it is “al dente”, considering about 2 minutes less of cooking time than indicated in the package.
  • Before draining the pasta, put 4 tablespoons of the cooking water in a glass.
  • Add the clam sauce you strained earlier to the pan, and turn the heat back up.
  • Pour the spaghetti (cooked “al dente”) into the pan with the clam sauce and complete the cooking, stirring over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add a little at a time the cooking water of the pasta which, having inside the starch released by the spaghetti, will make the sauce creamier.
  • Finally add the clams, stir and serve with a tiny bit of chopped parsley.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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