Garlic Spaghetti (Spaghetti Aglio e Olio)

spaghetti aglio e olio

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney 

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
598 Calories
37g Fat
49g Carbs
20g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 598
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 37g 47%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 485mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 20g
Calcium 316mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spaghetti aglio e olio simply means spaghetti with garlic and oil in Italian. Originally from Naples, it’s the easiest, most flavorful pasta you can make in under 15 minutes. This pasta is traditionally a late night food due to its ease and accessibility of ingredients. Most people have some kind of dried pasta, olive oil, and garlic in their home, so it can be made any time of the day or night without a trip to the grocery store. Although it simply means olive oil and garlic, there’s lots of other additions that can make this dish extra delicious. Try adding in a protein or serving alongside a salad for a complete meal.

You can also easily make this pasta vegan by omitting the parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 8-10 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup parsley (fresh)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    spaghetti aglio e olio ingredients
  2. Boil a large pot of water. Add salt when it has boiled and add the pasta.
    Once the pasta has cooked to al dente (look at the package instructions), reserve a cup of the pasta water for the sauce and drain.

    spaghetti boiled and pasta water reserved
  3. Slice the garlic into thin slivers (as thin as you can).

    thinly sliced garlic
  4. Mince the parsley.

    minced parsley
  5. Add the olive oil to a large pot (the same one you cooked the pasta in, if you wish) and cook on medium heat. Add half of the garlic and saute until just fragrant. Then add in the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and chopped parsley. Cook for another minute. Just be careful not to overcook or over toast the garlic. This can lessen the garlic flavor and can make the garlic taste bitter.

    sautéed garlic and parsley in oil
  6. Add half a cup of the reserved pasta water, the pasta and the remaining garlic. Toss and cook for another 2 minutes or until it is all heated through. Add in more pasta water if needed.

    pasta tossed with garlic and oil
  7. Add the parmesan cheese and more salt to taste. Serve immediately.

    spaghetti aglio e olio
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney 

Recipe Variations

This pasta dish is perfect on its own, but try some of these proteins and herb options when you’re looking for a little something more. 

  • grilled chicken
  • grilled shrimp
  • chickpeas 
  • Freshly chopped basil
  • minced anchovy
  • buttered breadcrumbs
  • extra crushed red pepper flakes
  • roasted garlic
  • grated pecorino cheese

You can substitute different pasta types as well. Long pastas work best. The garlic twirls up the garlic slivers nicely. Linguine, fettuccine, and bucatini are all great options.

Recipe Tips

Undercooking the garlic makes for a nice robust garlic flavor. If you like a milder garlic flavor then cook all of the garlic for longer. 

You can add more or less garlic depending on the size of the cloves and your taste.

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