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.
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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.
A great “pantry” meal. Delicious.
Hi Judy, thanks for the comment and yes, this is one of our favorite pantry pastas!
I gave it a 5 for an easy way to make the clams sauce !
So happy you liked it, Lou! thanks for the comment.
Best white clam sauce since I left Brooklyn.
Thanks Jim. You did good.
Thanks, Caro! So happy you enjoyed it!
Great ! Great!! clam sauce. I am 91 yrs. & love cooking. One thing i did to clam sauce many years ago when i fry my onions & garlic i add flour it thickens the sauce and it clings to pasta.
Hi Anna, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed the clam sauce!
Jim, Help me. I need clarity. Is that 5 anchovies filets from 1 tin or 5 tins of anchovies?
Hi Kit, it's 5 anchovy filets - not 5 tins of anchovies.
Thank you for clarifying this!!!!
Hi Jim--were the clams whole or chopped?
Hi Claire, these are baby clams in the can so don't need to be chopped. If you buy larger canned clams and want to chop them you can.
This has been one of my favorites since I moved out on my own many moons ago. As a pantry meal, it is affordable & one feels like they are dining like royalty even if the cupboard is bare Also, it is a easy, impressive dish for guests.
I never have used anchovies, but I love them, so I am going to give that a whirl & bc I have a non-drinker in the house,I often don't have wine available to cook with, so I makeup for it with just clam juice and pasta water and it still tastes fantastic
I often want Clams and pasta at times when going out to buy them is out of the question. This is a great alternative.
Thanks for the comment, Bob! Yes, this is perfect for when you can't get to the store!
Jim, Thank you for posting this exceptionally easy and delicious recipe.
Your directions and cook times are perfect for al’ dente’ linguine. I added dried parsley flakes when I added the wine, since I don’t have fresh parsley in the garden at the moment.
This is absolutely stellar dish and tastes shockingly close, in taste, to fresh clams.
Hi David, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed the recipe!
Looks delicious, I’m going to make it this weekend
Hi Phyllis, hope you enjoy it and thanks for the comment!
This recipe Linguine with Canned Clams & Shrimp Scampi are my go to when I want to impress company! 😋thank you.
Hi Christina, so happy you liked the recipes and thanks for the comment!
Hi Patricia, so happy you liked it and appreciate your comment!
Will this still be good without the anchovies? I don't have any and I've never actually tried them before.
Hi Susan, yes, you can omit the anchovies if you'd like.
Eliot Vander Lugt
Fantastic recipe! Thanks, Jim!
Thanks for the comment and review, Eliot! So happy you enjoyed!
Savannah R Spry
Where do I get anchovy fillets ? Is that just the fish in the tin ?
Hi Savannah, most grocery stores will carry anchovies either in a tin or glass jar. If you can't find them in a grocery store, Amazon has as well.
Delicious. I added some fresh diced Campari tomatoes for some vegetables. I put them in before I deglazed with white wine and let them cook down. All I can say is this is definitely making my monthly menu.
So happy you enjoyed and really appreciate the comment!
You're AMAZING! And as a Mimi, I can vow the accuracy of this recipe! About to teach my Grandson how to make this and wanted to find something I could "hand out" to him. None of my recipes are written. I loved watching you and your son! (You're a great teacher too!)
Hi Barbara, thanks for the comment! I'm so happy you're enjoying the recipes and videos!
This is a fantastic recipe! All the recipes that I have tried from your show and website have been simply wonderful! I'm also hooked on your videos. I find myself waiting with bated breath for the next video. I've learned from you how to be a better cook. Thank you and keep up the good work!
Hi Tina, thanks for the comment and I'm so happy you're enjoying the recipes and videos. I really appreciate the kind words!
Never thought to add anchovies to my clam sauce but will in the future. Mine is basically made like yours but without the white wine. Such a wonderful meal and for my guys I make a very garlicky bread to go along with it. Garlic rules!
Thanks for the comment, Kay!
I only had 1 can of clams so I added 1 box of fresh mushrooms. It was amazing!
I will make this again and buy 3 cans of clams next time I go to the store!
Hi Sharon, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed it!
This recipe is excellent! I didn’t add the anchovies, because I couldn’t find any in my grocery store today, but it turned out delicious anyway. Thank you for sharing your recipe!
Hi Maribeth, thanks for the review and comment! I'm so happy you enjoyed this one!
It's a very simple recipe and cannot wait to try this. I need to find a good quality gluten-free linguine product so a family member can enjoy it.
Thank you, Jim!
Thanks for the comment, Roger. I haven't tested it myself, but I've heard good things about Banza for GF pasta. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you Jim and "staff"!
Sorry to hear about the trolling - I would have never thought that would happen to you and your videos. Love your recipes and how you explain everything having not been exposed to these types of foods (grew up poor in MN). Please keep them coming! If I wasn't afraid of putting on the pounds I'd use your meals every night.
Hi JD, thanks for the comment and for watching our videos! So happy you're enjoying the recipes!
Recipe is great. I added some fresh lemon juice at the end. Added a bright flavor
Hi Maria, so happy you enjoyed this one and thanks for the comment!
Jim I love this recipe and want to know about the proper dry white wine to use. I am Italian but do not drink much wine. Which wine should I use??
Hi Rita, I typically use dry white wines when cooking, so in this case a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect!
Thanks Jim that's exactly what I thought too. By the way, I was watching you make Sicilian Pizza. You deserve an award for the way you made it. It was the best instruction video ever. And I mean that sincerely. My daughter is taking classes at the Culinary Inst. of America for dough making. I sent her the link for the video and she went "nuts" Good job Jim, you are the best in my book.
Hi Rita, I really appreciate this comment and am flattered your daughter also found it enjoyable. Thank you so much!
Thanks for the comment Paula!
Hey Jim, I'm definitely gonna give it a try. Never had with the anchovies. By the way, where did you get that 14 inch skillet??
Hi Dorothy, thanks for the comment and hope you enjoy! There is a very similar 14 inch skillet in my shop that's linked here on the website.
We made this recipe for dinner tonight. Winner for dinner! We especially loved the breadcrumbs. We are working our way through your recipes. Glad I retired this year so I can cook and relive some memories of childhood.
Hi Joe, I'm so happy you enjoyed this one and really appreciate the comment!
It’s an amazing recipe…the only difference between James’ recipe and my Nona’s are shallots and freshly squeezed lemon juice..James, my husband and I love all your recipes.. they are so authentic. You give us a good base and from there we can make it our own. Thank you for putting your heart, soul & family traditions into each recipe..I am sure your Nona is proud. ❤️
Hi Ardie, thanks for the lovely comment, and happy to hear my recipe is close to your Nona's recipe! I'm so happy you and your husband are enjoying the recipes and really appreciate you following along!
Each dish we have tried from your site has been terrific. This recipe is no exception. The breadcrumbs are a wonderful addition. Be sure to serve them on the side or at the very last moment, as instructed, so they stay crisp. We forgot to slice the garlic and chopped it instead. It worked out fine, but next time we will do it the Sip and Feast way! Thank you for your easy-to-follow, delicious recipes.
Hi Ellen, thanks for the comment and so happy you're enjoying the recipes!
Jim - Great recipe, thanks for sharing! Made this last night for the family and everyone loved it. I used 2 cans of clams for 1 pound of pasta and it seemed to be just right. Love the channel & keep up the great work!
Hi Vinnie, I really appreciate the comment and so happy you and the family enjoyed this one!