Loaded with garlic, this spaghetti aglio e olio recipe calls for a handful of ingredients to create the perfect harmony of flavors that are truly irresistible. This Italian classic is quick, delicious, and so incredibly satisfying, it will soon become your weeknight favorite.
What is Spaghetti Aglio e Olio?
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, which translates to “spaghetti with garlic and oil” in Italian, is a traditional garlic pasta recipe born in the south of Italy around the Naples area, now with various renditions that span all across the country.
As signified in the name, this classic aglio e olio recipe brings together garlic, oil, and al-dente spaghetti to create a dish that best illuminates the core elements of Italian cuisine: simplicity, creativity, and comfort.
This comforting pasta dish is truly the perfect weeknight dinner as it calls for a very short list of ingredients and takes minimal effort to make with an incredibly satisfying outcome.
Although there are many variations of this timeless dish, this pasta aglio e olio recipe doubles down on the garlic (10 full cloves for two servings!) to be sautéed and infused in olive oil and starchy water, to create a deeply flavorful sauce to pair with your al-dente pasta.
To finish, I like to add a handful of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley to the mix, to make a beautifully rich and silky sauce that’s loaded with comfort and flavor.
The best part about this garlic pasta recipe lies in its simplicity and how quickly it comes together with just a handful of ingredients, to result in a glorious plate of pasta that is deeply flavored and full of scrumptious texture.
What do I need to make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio?
This spaghetti aglio olio recipe calls for the most simple list of ingredients, making it the perfect last-minute dinner choice for the busy weekdays. Here is everything you’ll need for this recipe:
- Spaghetti: to be cooked in a pot of salted boiling water then finished in the garlic-infused oil.
- Spaghetti is the preferred choice of pasta as it does a wonderful job of absorbing the sauce to be mixed quickly and evenly.
- If you don’t have any spaghetti on hand, feel free to use spaghettini or linguine.
- Garlic + red chili flakes: or dried red chilies.
- Traditionally spaghetti olio is made with fresh pepperoncini but as it is hard to find outside of Italy, red chili flakes or dried whole chilies make wonderful substitutes!
- Olive oil: as this is the primary base for the sauce, I highly recommend using the best-quality extra virgin olive oil you can find.
- Parmesan cheese: preferably real Parmigiano-Reggiano. This is to make the sauce extra silky, but please feel free to skip this if you want to stick with the traditional method.
- Parsley: fresh parsley is recommended, but you can also opt for a smaller portion of the dry alternative or skip it altogether.
- Salt + pepper: to taste.
Tips to make the best Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- Prep everything in advance. This recipe comes together quickly as soon as the pasta is added to the water, so it’s best to have all the ingredients ready to go before you start to make your process easy and seamless.
- Cook the spaghetti in a generously salted pot of boiling water until it is about one minute shy of being al-dente.
- The ideal ratio for well-seasoned pasta water is 1 tbsp of salt for every 4 liters of water. This makes up the core seasoning of your pasta, so please do not skip this step!
- The spaghetti (cooked one minute shy of al-dente) and pasta water will be stirred into the garlic-infused oil to help the garlic oil emulsify into a beautiful rich sauce, while it soaks up all the extra garlicky flavors as it finishes cooking.
- Use the right kind of pasta: due to its quick emulsifying process, olive oil-based sauces are best paired with thin and long pasta types such as spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine.
- Keep a close eye on the garlic: garlic burns very easily in hot oil, so it’s important to give your full attention as soon as it hits the oil.
- Add the garlic to your oil on medium-low heat, stir, and cook until the edges are lightly golden brown in color.
- Use two stovetops simultaneously if you can. This will ensure that your pasta has the most ideal texture as it is being added to the sauce as soon as it is cooked. Don’t forget to reserve your pasta water!
And that’s it! All the tips and tricks to make the best Spaghetti Aglio e Olio on your first try. This garlic pasta recipe has been one of the most requested recipes on the blog, so I hope you enjoy it. 😊
As always, please leave me a comment below or send me a message on Instagram if you have any questions.
Other easy Dinner recipes you may like:
- 15-Minute Creamy Shrimp Pasta (Rose Pasta)
- Stir-Fried Bulgogi Udon Noodles
- 15-Minute Yaki Udon (Stir-Fried Udon Noodles)
- 10-Minute Garlic Chili Oil Noodles
- 10-Minute Sesame Noodles (Ma Jiang Mian)
15-Minute Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Garlic Pasta)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (see notes below) and add pasta. Cook until it is one minute shy of al-dente, and reserve about a cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and add garlic. Cook until the edges are golden, and stir in red chili flakes.
- Add the cooked pasta and about 1/3 cup of pasta water, and stir around to cook. If the sauce looks a bit too dry, add more of the starchy pasta water.
- Add parsley and parmesan if using, and season with salt and pepper to finish. Garnish and enjoy!
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