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The Clams in Red Sauce finished and plated.

Clams in Red Sauce

Littleneck clams in red sauce.  Fresh whole clams are cooked in a garlicky Italian red sauce with basil. A delicious and easy Italian recipe.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 289kcal
Author James


  • 2 pounds Littleneck clams
  • 1 28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil


  • Tear the basil and wash.  Set aside about a ¼ cup of washed basil leaves.
  • Slice up ten cloves of garlic.  Saute garlic with 2 Tbsp of olive oil on medium heat for 2 minutes in sauce pan.
  • Blend whole plum tomatoes on pulse setting or use hand and squeeze them to break them up in a bowl.  Be careful not to make a mess if using the squeezing method.
  • Add tomatoes and all the tomato paste to sauce pan.  Add  4 ounces of water, all the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and cook for 15 minutes on medium low.
  • Wash clams to remove any sand or debris.
  • Heat a clean large pan on medium-high and add 4 oz. of water and clams.  Cover.
  • Clams should open within 5-10 minutes.  Remove clams as they open.  Continue to cook unopened clams for 10 minutes and remove all the open ones. Place all the open clams in a serving bowl and set aside.
  • After 10 minutes discard any unopened clams.  In the empty clam pan add half the sauce and heat for 1 minute on medium-low.  After 1 minute add the clams to the sauce.  Stir it all together and turn off heat.
  • Add basil to pan, stir it all together and serve.  Serve in plates with a drizzle of olive oil, and some crusty bread.  Use remaining sauce if needed or dip the bread into it.  Enjoy!



  • This whole recipe can be adapted to make a large meal with pasta, or could easily be doubled or tripled if serving for many guests.
  • Mussels are a great substitute.
  • Adjust salt/pepper to taste.
  • Crushed red pepper is optional.


Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.2g | Protein: 22.4g | Fat: 15.2g | Sodium: 820mg