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Cristina Ferrare’s White Clam Sauce

This unforgettable recipe for White Clam Sauce from Cristina Ferrare’s cookbook is a delicious way to enjoy this classic pasta at home.

White Clam Sauce

Clear as day, I remember the first time I had white clam sauce. I was probably 8 or 9 and out to dinner with my family at this great pasta restaurant on the Connecticut shoreline. The restaurant is not there anymore, but when it was it could be relied on for amazing, delicious housemade pasta dishes served with bread so fresh it was still warm from the oven.

I remember reading the menu and wondering why the white clam sauce was so different from the red sauce, which I knew I liked. I asked and was told it wasn’t as good as the red sauce. Still intrigued, I ordered it anyway.

White clam sauce is a different world from its red counterpart. It’s nuanced in flavor, lighter in texture and ultimately lets the clams really be the star, supported by garlic and other flavors. Usually, it has butter and white wine in it to round out the flavors as well — though not always, as this recipe attests.

And yes, that first time I tried it, I did like it.

When I recently received a review copy of Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love: Delight Family and Friends with More than 150 Simple, Fabulous Recipes, I totally and immediately gravitated to Cristina Farrare’s recipe for clam sauce. It’s a simple version made with ingredients you probably have in the pantry (plus fresh parsley).

For the fresh parsley, I ran out to my herb garden and cut some to use, but it’s also readily available at the grocery store. Then, the pasta came together super fast. Less than 20 minutes later, I was taking photos of the final dish. I loved that it’s this easy and simple to make. Also, the infusion of lemon really makes it amazing.

So far, I am loving Cristina Ferrare’s cookbook. When I opened it, it instantly inspired me to get into the kitchen and try something, which is a reliable sign of a well-done cookbook.  The recipes and photos (and let’s face it: photos are a must in today’s cookbooks) make you want to try everything. And if this recipe is any indication, the flavors are worth the effort.

I adapted this recipe ever so slightly from Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love.

Like this recipe? You might also want to check out my clam and andouille sausage pasta recipe.

Yield: 4 servings

Cristina Ferrare’s Clam Sauce

Cristina Ferrare’s Clam Sauce


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley
  • 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 6 1/2- ounce can minced clams in clam juice
  • 8 oz pasta of your choice cooked
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice, fresh is best
  • Lemon wedges for garnishing


  1. Heat a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat on the stove for 30 seconds, then add the oil and let that heat up for a minute. Toss in the garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to color. As soon as it does (and not a second later!) pour in the clams and their juice. Stir well, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.
  2. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and lemon juice in pan for 30 seconds, while set over medium heat. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this cookbook for review purposes. Any opinions expressed are my own.


Sunday 10th of November 2013

this is a good dish- every bit eaten when i served it to my family- can be spicy- depends on how much red pepper you put in.

sarahworldcook (Homestyle Cooking Around The World)

Wednesday 1st of June 2011

I love the white sauce and clams over pasta- didn't have it until a few years ago. Great looking recipe!

Maris (In Good Taste)

Monday 30th of May 2011

Looks delish. I was always more into red sauce than white but you could easily convert me!


Saturday 28th of May 2011

I've been debating buying that cookbook and I think you've finally helped me to make a decision! Pasta with clam sauce is a favorite around here and yours looks splendid!


Friday 27th of May 2011

I kinda agree with the restaurant. I like red sauce better too!

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