Linguine with canned clams is a wonderful dish to make when you're craving clam sauce but don't want to run to the store to buy fresh clams. Topped with homemade toasty breadcrumbs, this pasta is budget-friendly and takes about 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight meal!
There are so many times I crave linguine with clam sauce, and often they're late at night!
For this reason, I always keep some canned clams in my pantry so I can easily toss together this super simple linguine with canned clams.
It's similar in taste to the classic linguine alle vongole, but easier and a bit more budget-friendly.
I love to top mine with homemade seasoned breadcrumbs which add wonderful texture and depth of flavor.
Bookmark this recipe because you'll want to make this time and time again!
How to make the seasoned breadcrumbs (optional)
- Mince ½ clove of garlic and 3 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley. Pulse 5 slices of day-old bread in a food processor (or just use 1 cup of store-bought plain breadcrumbs) along with the garlic, parsley, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat a large pan to medium and add the breadcrumb ingredients to it.
- Stir frequently and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Set aside and serve with the pasta at the end.
How to make linguine with canned clams
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Slice 7 cloves of garlic and mince ¼ cup of flat-leaf Italian parsley. Cube 2 tablespoons of unsalted cold butter.
- Using 3 10-ounce cans of baby clams, separate the clams from their juice and reserve both. Note: You could certainly get by with 2 cans, but use 3 if you like a lot of clams!
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat a large pan to medium-low and add 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the garlic, and 5 tinned anchovy fillets.
- Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the garlic is golden and the anchovies have dissolved. Add a ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. At this point, add 1 pound of linguine to the salted boiling water and cook until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Add a ½ cup of dry white wine and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the wine reduces by about half.
- Add the reserved clam juice and turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Add the baby clams to the pan and mix well. Simmer the sauce while waiting for the pasta.
- Add the linguine to the pan and mix with tongs or toss to emulsify the sauce.
- Cook the pasta with the sauce for 1 minute or until the pasta reaches al dente. If more sauce is needed, add a few ounces of reserved pasta water at a time until there is enough sauce. Note: I love it on the saucier side, but adjust it according to taste.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter and parsley. Mix well, then give it a taste test adjusting salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls with the optional seasoned breadcrumbs from above on the side. Enjoy!
- Canned clams. Canned seafood is wonderful to keep on hand in your pantry. I typically keep several cans of baby clams, clam juice, sardines, oiled-packed tuna, and anchovies on hand for when I want to make a simple meal, like tuna pasta. I had enough clam juice from just the canned clams and didn't need to open a can of clam juice, but if you want more you can certainly add it. I do prefer to use pasta water to make up the difference.
- Salt level. Clams and anchovies are pretty salty, as is the salted pasta water. For this reason, I did not need to add any additional salt to the recipe, besides the salt added to the breadcrumbs, but be sure to taste test and adjust to the salt level you prefer.
- Save your pasta water! As mentioned above and in most of my pasta recipes, it's important to reserve your pasta water to help reconstitute the sauce. Never toss the pasta water until you're done eating!
- The breadcrumbs. While the breadcrumbs are optional, I highly recommend using them! They bring wonderful texture and flavor to the canned clams with linguine!
More seafood recipes
Here are a few more of our favorite recipes using the fruits of the sea!
- Pasta con le sarde - fennel, raisins, pine nuts, sardines and toasted breadcrumbs.
- Linguine with red clam sauce - clams and pasta in a simple marinara.
- Clams oreganata - baked clams topped with garlicky breadcrumbs.
If you’ve enjoyed this linguine with canned clams recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.
For the seasoned breadcrumbs (optional)
- 5 slices day old bread crust removed (or 1 cup store-bought plain breadcrumbs)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ clove garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley minced
For the canned clam sauce
- 1 pound linguine
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 7 cloves garlic sliced
- 5 tinned anchovy fillets
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 10-ounce cans baby clams see notes below
- ¼ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley minced
- 2 tablespoons butter cubed
- 2 cups reserved pasta water might not need all of it
For the seasoned breadcrumbs
- Pulse 5 slices of day-old bread in a food processor along with the garlic, parsley, salt, and olive oil.
- Heat a large pan to medium and add all of the breadcrumb ingredients to the pan. Stir frequently and cook until the breadcrumbs turn golden (about 5-7 minutes).
For the canned clam sauce
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Separate the canned baby clams from their juice, reserving both.
- Heat a large pan to medium-low heat and add the extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. Cook until the garlic is golden and the anchovies dissolve (about 3 minutes).
- Meanwhile, begin cooking the linguine until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Add the hot red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the white wine and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook the wine for 2-3 minutes or until it slightly reduces then add all of the reserved clam juice.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the baby clams to the pan. Mix well.
- Add the linguine to the pan. Toss or mix with tongs to emulsify the sauce. Cook the pasta with the sauce for 1 minute or until the pasta just reaches al dente. If more sauce is needed, add a couple of ounces of reserved pasta water at a time. The pasta should have plenty of sauce, so add enough pasta water.
- Turn the heat off and add the butter and parsley. Mix well then taste test. Adjust salt and pepper levels if required. Serve in bowls along with the seasoned breadcrumbs on the side. Enjoy!
- Three 10-ounce cans of baby clams will leave you with approximately 18 ounces of clam juice. If needed, use extra store-bought clam juice or more pasta water to make up the difference.
- No extra salt was added to the clam sauce due to the inherent saltiness of the clams, anchovies, and pasta water. Adjust according to taste right before serving.
- The extra reserved pasta water can loosen up the sauce if it dries out while waiting for guests to be seated. Use a few ounces at a time.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.