Chefs' Recipes

Spaghetti with clams and butter

The spaghetti alle vongole con burro from London's River Café doesn't skimp on indulgence.

By Ruth Rogers & Rose Gray
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
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Spaghetti with clams and butter
"Using butter is an unusual choice for cooking clams; most recipes call for olive oil," says Rogers. "This recipe comes from a restaurant on the beach near Fiumicino, and the butter makes the sauce deliciously thick, coating the pasta."


  • 400 gm dried spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 dried red chilli, crushed
  • 75 gm softened butter
  • 1 kg small clams
  • ¾ cup (loosely packed) parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 250 ml dry white wine, such as vermentino


  • 1
    Cook spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (8-10 minutes).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, combine oil, garlic, chilli and half the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, season to taste and fry until fragrant (30-40 seconds). Add clams and parsley and toss to combine. Add wine, cover with a lid and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until clams open (4-6 minutes).
  • 3
    Drain spaghetti, reserving a small amount of pasta water. Add spaghetti and remaining butter to clams and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen sauce. Serve hot.