If you take a peek in my pantry, you’ll always find canned clams. It might seem like a strange pantry staple, but cans of clams are the jumping-off point to some amazing seafood dishes, like this Spaghetti with Clams recipe.
They are flavorful, they are affordable, and they are a must-try if you haven’t had them before!
In an ideal world, we’d all be able to go clam digging daily and use the freshest of clams in our dinners. Alas, I’m landlocked, and I’m sure a lot of you folks are as well, so we’re left with using canned clams.
Have no fear! Canned clams are packed with tender morsels of clams in a juice that has tons of wonderful ocean flavor. Here, we’ll use that juice to make the most delectable, silky sauce for spaghetti.
You’ll see both chopped and whole canned clams at the store. Either works, but buying them pre-chopped will save you a step.
What ingredients do you need to make spaghetti with canned clams?
This recipe uses ingredients that are all almost entirely pantry staples—you probably have most of this already kicking around the kitchen! To make this recipe, you’ll need:
- Spaghetti—any kind will do, including gluten-free or chickpea spaghetti
- Olive oil or avocado oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Canned clams—any kind works, but I’m a big fan of these Bar Harbor Clams
- White wine or chicken broth
- Butter—plant-based butter also works
- Fresh parsley
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
How do you make spaghetti with clams?
The process for making this weeknight meal is as easy as can be:
- Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
- While the spaghetti cooks, make the clam sauce by sautéing garlic and red pepper flakes in oil. Then add in the liquid from the canned clams, plus some white wine (or chicken broth). Simmer until it has reduced and thickened slightly.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, and add in lemon juice and zest, butter, and the canned clams.
- Toss the drained spaghetti with the sauce, and top with fresh minced parsley, Parmesan cheese, and a heavy dose of freshly cracked black pepper.
Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water before draining your spaghetti. If the pasta seems a bit dry after mixing with the sauce, you can add some of the starchy cooking water to thin the sauce.
Should you rinse canned clams before using them?
No, don’t rinse the clams before using them. In fact, make sure you reserve all the clam juice that’s in the can—that’s what makes up the base of the pasta sauce.
Do you have to cook canned clams first?
Nope! Because of the processing time to preserve the clams in the cans, they are fully cooked. We just toss them in at the end of cooking the sauce to warm them through.
How do I reheat leftovers?
Seafood is notoriously tricky to reheat, but this recipe reheats well in a saucepan over low on the stovetop. We don’t recommend using the microwave unless you want the clam smell to linger.
Add a bit of water or chicken broth to the spaghetti before reheating on the stovetop—this will help keep it from drying out.