Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)– This classic spaghetti Aglio e Olio is easy to make with 4 basic ingredients (spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes). This is the most authentic and simple Italian recipe. Make it all in 20 minutes!

More easy pasta recipes: Authentic Italian Fettuccine Alfredo, Spaghetti with Tomato Paste Pasta Sauce, and Spaghetti alle Vongole.

Aglio e olio pasta recipe on a plate ready to eat. Close up with a fork on the plate.
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This is one of my favorite pasta dishes and one of the most popular Italian pasta recipes! With only a handful of ingredients, you can make the best sauce the whole family will love. If you are a true Italian, you will even eat pasta aglio e olio as a midnight snack!

As an Italian, I will tell you the secret to making this sauce super flavorful, beautiful, and tasty- the reserved pasta water! That liquid gold creates a gorgeous, glossy, non-greasy sauce in minutes. It’s an Italian secret to many wonderful recipes, such as Pasta Al Limone.

If you need help cooking pasta al dente and more, read my post on how long to boil spaghetti for perfect pasta every time.

finished aglio e olio recipe in pan with a little parsley on top.

Simple Ingredients

This Italian classic has only four main ingredients, so use good-quality ingredients for the best results!

ingredient shot.
  • Spaghetti: I recommend using 100% durum wheat semolina pasta. Spaghetti becomes tender yet slightly firm to the bite when cooked, called “al dente”.
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil has a rich, fruity flavor and is a key component of this dish. Sautéing the garlic and red pepper flakes and coating the cooked pasta, creating a silky texture and a delicious Mediterranean taste.
  • Fresh Garlic: In this dish, thinly sliced garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, infusing it with its distinctive taste and aroma. Don’t use the jarred kind!
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Traditional spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncini is made with fresh Peperoncini (Red Hot Chile Peppers) that are easy to find in Italy. You can order the dried variety or use crushed red pepper flakes to add a touch of heat to your Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.
  • Salt: Salt is a crucial seasoning that enhances the flavors of all the other ingredients in the dish. We use it for the pasta cooking water and during the sautéing process.
  • Optional Toppings:
    • Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a vibrant burst of color. It’s often sprinkled over the pasta just before serving.
    • Grated Parmesan Cheese: parmigiano cheese is a classic aged Italian cheese with a rich, nutty flavor. We don’t serve this dish with cheese in Italy), but you can add it as a topping to add a salty note to the pasta.

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)

How to make Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)- add garlic and chili flakes to hot oil in pan.

Cook the Spaghetti: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.

 

How to make Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)- let cook for a few minutes.

Sauté the Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes: While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic slices and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden brown but not burnt. Adjust the heat if needed to prevent burning, or take off the heat, until the pasta is done cooking. 

How to make Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)- add cooked pasta (al dente) to the pan with garlic oil.

Combine Pasta and Sauce: Once the pasta is cooked, use tongs to transfer it directly from the pot to the skillet with the red pepper garlicky oil. Toss the pasta in the garlic and oil mixture, ensuring each strand is coated evenly.

How to make Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)- add reserved pasta water.

Add the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until you achieve your desired sauce consistency- I find 1/2 cup is perfect. Toss over low heat for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is smooth and coats the pasta completely. 

Serve the Aglio e Olio spaghetti immediately. Sprinkle with finely chopped Italian parsley if desired. Enjoy!

finished aglio e olio recipe in pan with a little parsley on top.

Variations

Here are three Italian variations to the classic Spaghetti Aglio e Olio recipe:

  1. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio con Acciughe: Anchovies are added to the dish in this variation. The anchovies are usually finely chopped and sautéed with garlic, creating a salty and savory flavor profile that complements the olive oil and garlic.
  2. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio con Gamberetti: This variation includes shrimp (gamberetti in Italian). The shrimp are usually cooked separately and added to the pasta during tossing.
  3. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio con Funghi: This variation features mushrooms (funghi) as an addition. Sliced mushrooms are sautéed along with the garlic, creating an earthy and savory dimension to the dish. You can use a variety of mushrooms for different flavors and textures.
  4. Cherry Tomatoes: Add halved cherry tomatoes and cook until they soften and release their juices. Combine the cooked pasta with the tomato mixture, using reserved water for a silky sauce. Finish with torn fresh basil leaves for a burst of freshness and optional grated Pecorino Romano cheese for added richness.
Aglio e olio pasta recipe on a plate ready to eat. garlic and dried red peppers on background

Storage

To store Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, let it cool, place it in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this pasta.

Aglio e olio pasta recipe on a plate ready to eat. Close up with a fork on the plate.

Top tips

  • Quality Ingredients: Since this dish relies on just a few key ingredients, it’s important to use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and good-quality pasta. The flavors will shine through better when you start with quality ingredients.
  • Don’t Overcook Garlic: When sautéing the garlic, be vigilant and make sure it doesn’t turn brown or burn. Overcooked garlic can become bitter and overpowering. Cook it just until it’s golden and aromatic.
  • Control Spice Level: Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper flakes based on your spice preference. Start with a little and add more if you prefer more heat. It’s always easier to add more spice than to tone it down.
  • Cook Pasta Al Dente: Cook the pasta just until it’s al dente, which means it’s cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite. This gives the dish a pleasant texture. Be sure to follow the package instructions for cooking time, but taste-test a minute or two before the suggested time to ensure the right texture.
  • Save Pasta Water: Reserve some of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. This starchy water can be used to adjust the sauce’s consistency and help it cling to the pasta better.
  • Quick Assembly: Try to time your pasta and sauce preparation so that both are ready around the same time. This way, you can directly transfer the cooked pasta into the skillet with the garlic and oil while the pasta is still hot.
  • Toss Vigorously: Use tongs to toss the pasta in the skillet with the garlic and oil. This helps the pasta strands get coated evenly and allows the flavors to meld.
Aglio e olio pasta recipe on a plate ready to eat. Fork twirling the pasta.

FAQs

What does Aglio e Oilio mean?

“Aglio e olio” translates to “garlic and oil” in Italian. The Aglio e Olio pasta dish originates from Italy. It’s a traditional Italian pasta dish that hails from the region of Campania, which includes Naples and its surroundings.

Can I use other types of pasta?

Yes, you can use other types of pasta if you prefer. Linguine, fettuccine, or even angel hair pasta work well for this dish. Just adjust the cooking time according to the pasta you choose.

How do I make the pasta sauce silky without cream?

The secret to a cohesive sauce without cream is the reserved pasta water used to bind the garlicky olive oil sauce to the pasta.

Aglio e olio pasta recipe on a plate ready to eat. Fork twirling the pasta.

Looking for other recipes? Try these:

What to Serve with Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Here are a few dishes to serve with garlic and oil pasta:

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)

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5 from 5 reviews

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Garlic with Oil Pasta)– This classic spaghetti Aglio e Olio is easy to make with just four basic ingredients (spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes). You can make it all in 20 minutes!

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 16 ounces (about 450 grams) of spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 46 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced (adjust amount to your preference)
  • 1/4 teaspoon– 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or Italian Peperoncini (adjust to your spice preference)
  • Salt for pasta water
  • Optional toppings: chopped fresh parsley

Equipment 

Instructions

  1. Cook the Spaghetti: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve about a cup of pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
  2. Sauté the Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes: While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic slices and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden brown but not burnt. Adjust the heat if needed to prevent burning, or take off the heat, until the pasta is done cooking. 
  3. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Once the pasta is cooked, use tongs to transfer it directly from the pot to the skillet with the red pepper garlicky oil. Toss the pasta in the garlic and oil mixture, ensuring each strand is coated evenly. Add the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until you achieve your desired sauce consistency- I find 1/2 cup is perfect. Toss over low heat for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is smooth and coats the pasta completely. 
  4. Serve the Aglio e Olio spaghetti immediately. Sprinkle with finely chopped Italian parsley if desired. Enjoy! 
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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11 Comments

  1. Great quick nutritious recipe. Takes no time and with a couple of ingredients I always have on hand. A recipe when you want something quick but a healthy option. Followed instructions and turned out just as recipe said. Hubby and I both loved it.






  2. This is an easy go to, esp on meatless Mondays. So delicious and family loves it. Thank you Elena!






  3. Made this for my Italian husband last night. He proclaimed it really good. You definitely have to have everything prepped and ready to go as the recipe comes together quickly.






  4. learned this from my dad when I was a kid. I also add broccoli or italian cut green beans. top it off with some pecorino Romano cheese. a true classic