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Spaghetti with Lemon Clams [Restaurant-Style]

This is an elegant, easy to prepare, restaurant style recipe that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home.

Clams cooked in a garlicy lemon sauce with fresh herbs and tossed with pasta of your choice. I have tried this with Spaghetti, Linguini and Zoodles and they turn out really well. You can also skip the pasta completely and serve a bowl of these clams with some fresh, crusty French bread. The recipe below gives you directions for all three styles.

Garlic Lemon Clam.jpg


  • Little neck or Manila clams - 2 dozen, scrubbed and rinsed*

  • Extra virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons

  • Garlic cloves - 4, minced

  • Shallots - 1 cup, finely sliced

  • Crushed red pepper - 1/2 teaspoon [reduce or add more based on your tolerance]

  • White wine - 1/4 cup [Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay]

  • Parsley - 1/4 cup finely chopped

  • Lemon - juice and grated rind of 1 lemon

  • Salt - 1 teaspoon

  • Spaghetti or Linguine - 1 pound

  • Water - as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prepare the clams: Remove the clams from the bag when you get home from the supermarket and place them in a bowl (uncovered) in the refrigerator. Half an hour prior to cooking, place the clams in a bowl of cold water. Give them about 20 minutes to expel the sand. When you’re ready to cook, give the clams a two or three rinses, scrubbing if necessary to remove any residual grit.

  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti or linguine until just al dente. Drain the pasta. 

  3. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. in a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes on medium high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for an additional minute - keep a close eye on the garlic to prevent it burning.

  4. Now, add the prepared clams, wine and cover the skillet. If the pan gets too dry, add a splash of water. Simmer until the clams open and are just cooked through; it takes about 5-7 minutes. Discard any clams that are not open. Transfer the clams to a separate platter and reserve the clam juice in the skillet. 

  5. Add the cooked spaghetti, grated zest, lemon juice and the chopped parsley to the clam juice in the skillet and season with pepper. Toss over moderately high heat until the spaghetti absorbs some of the juices, about 1 minute.

  6. Transfer the spaghetti and reserved clams to shallow bowls and serve right away.


  • You can replace spaghetti with any pasta of your choice. Just follow package directions to cook them al-dente and toss them in the sauce per directions above. 

  • I often make this with Zucchini spirals (Zoodles) instead of pasta. Toss the zoodles into the prepared clam juice when warm and follow the same procedure.

  • You can also completely eliminate the pasta and serve the clams in a bowl with a side of crusty, home made French bread to soak up all that juice- recipe here

Products used in this recipe


Pasta cooking set

Crushed Red Pepper

Did you cook this? I'd LOVE to see it! 

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