Spicy Spaghetti With Garlic and Olive Oil

Spicy spaghetti with garlic and olive oil in bowls

The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
221 Calories
12g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 221
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 75mg 2%
*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.)

The Naples classic of spaghetti all'aglio, olio, e peperoncino—spaghetti tossed with extra-virgin olive oil in which a bit of garlic and red chili pepper has been sautéed—is one of the simplest, quickest, and yet most satisfying pasta dishes of all. It only takes about 15 minutes to make, including boiling the pasta water, so it's great when you're pressed for time.

The most basic version contains only pasta, olive oil, chili pepper (either dried or fresh), garlic, and salt—things that most people will always have on hand in their pantry—but optional ingredients include fresh flat-leaf parsley and breadcrumbs.

American versions of this dish tend to use far more garlic than is used in Italy—often twice as much. In fact, some Italians will cut the garlic into large slices, sauté them in the oil to flavor it, and then remove and discard the garlic slices before mixing the oil with the pasta. Feel free to adjust the amounts of garlic and pepper to suit your personal taste.


  • Kosher salt

  • 1 pound (450 grams) spaghetti

  • 1/3 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

  • Optional: 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile pepper flakes (or 1 to 2 dried pepperoncini chile peppers, crushed)

  • Optional: 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for spicy spaghetti with garlic and olive oil gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  2. Set a large covered pot of water over high heat to boil.

    Water in a covered pot

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  3. When it reaches a rolling boil, salt the water and add the spaghetti, giving a few stirs to keep the pasta from clumping together.

    Spaghetti cooking in a pot of water

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  4. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the breadcrumbs if using (if you are not including the breadcrumbs, skip to the next step). Toast the crumbs in the oil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 3 minutes.

    Olive oil and breadcrumbs in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  5. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking until it is just fragrant and lightly colored, about 1 minute. Be careful not to overcook the garlic or it will become bitter. 

    Garlic with breadcrumbs and olive oil in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  6. Add the red chile pepper (dried or fresh) and chopped parsley, if using. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 

    Red pepper and parsley added to the breadcrumb mixture in the skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  7. When your pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.

    Spaghetti draining in a colander

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion

  8. Add the spaghetti to the skillet and toss until evenly coated. Add a little bit of the pasta cooking water as needed if the mixture is too dry. Serve and enjoy.

    Spicy spaghetti with garlic and olive oil in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Loren Runion


  • A trick to remembering to save some of the pasta water is to place a measuring cup next to the pot. Once the pasta has finished cooking, scoop out some of the cooking water using the measuring cup before draining the noodles.

What Goes Well With Pasta?

Pasta is frequently served as a main dish but can also be a hearty side dish. Vegetarian and lighter pastas can be served with a meat main like chicken, pork, beef, or even seafood. Fresh sides like green salads and Italian-inspired salads like caprese or burrata salad are good choices. Simple vegetable sides like roasted peppers and zucchini, baked eggplant, and roasted artichokes pair well with pasta. A little garlic bread or focaccia on the side is a real treat, too.

What Herbs Can You Add to Pasta?

Fresh or dried oregano, parsley, and basil are all popular additions to pasta dishes. Some light seafood pastas with a lemon or garlic sauce utilize fresh tarragon or even dill.