Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Spaghetti With Garlic, Olive Oil & Chili Peppers)

March 27, 2010 by Ali

Growing up, I remember eating pasta…a lot. But while the rest of the family would always enjoy the amazing array of sauces my mom made, my request was always “plain, please!” On rare occasions, I might branch out and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on top, but otherwise, sans anything sauce-related.

It’s true. I was that child. :S

Thankfully, I think that stage came to an end once I hit high school. But my love of simple pasta dishes has undoubtedly continued to this day! One of my absolute favorites to make — especially when short on time (or budget!) — is this classic Italian spaghetti. As the name states, it’s famous across Italy for being made with just four simple ingredients (well, six if you include the salt and water). I know you’re skeptical, but it really is full of perfectly-balanced, classic flavors!

Since there are just four ingredients, my advice would be to use good quality everything — good olive oil, real garlic cloves (not the minced stuff from the jar), good peppers (either dried or fresh), and of course…good pasta. :) It’s traditional to eat the pasta as is, but if you want, you can also garnish with some Parmesan and/or chopped parsley.

There is a reason why classics are classics!! Love this one!!!! :)

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio E Peperoncino (Spaghetti With Garlic, Olive Oil & Chili Peppers)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2-4 servings pasta


  • 1 lb. dried spaghetti (regular, whole wheat, brown rice, pick!)
  • 5 Tbsp. good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, cut in half or finely minced
  • 1 dried small red chili pepper - seeded and minced (or 1 tsp. dried chili pepper flakes)
  • salt
  • (optional toppings: grated parmesan or chopped fresh parsley)


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt (a few tablespoons) and then the spaghetti to the boiling water. Meanwhile, in a pan large enough to easily hold a pound of pasta, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

The next step is very simple but it must be done well: as soon as the oil gets hot, add the garlic, wait a few seconds, and then as soon as the garlic becomes blonde - that is, just before it becomes brown - add the chili. It has to sizzle. Add about 3-4 Tbsp. of the boiling water from the pasta pot to the pan and set aside until the pasta is ready. If you used large cloves of garlic, remove them at this point.

Cook your pasta very al dente and drain well. Immediately add the drained pasta to the hot sauce pan and toss for 2 minute to coat well.

Note: The secret of this recipe is to avoid browning the garlic and being careful not to overcook the spaghetti. Be generous with the chili…if you can take it. Normally no grated cheese is needed.

Recipe adapted from DeLallo

(c) 2013 Gimme Some Oven. All rights reserved.

Ali’s Tip:

I love a little heat in my pasta, so actually used two chilis. You can also experiment with leaving some of the seeds in if you like a little kick in your pasta! :)

filed in Entrees, Pastas

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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7 thoughts on “Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (Spaghetti With Garlic, Olive Oil & Chili Peppers)

  1. Your technique is one of the purest I have found. I have made this dish many times as it is a favorite but I am always curious to see what twists people come up with. I particularly like adding the very aldente pasta to the sauce to finish it off. Where did you learn this recipe? My family is from Abruzzo and its indigenous

    - Robert Granieri

  2. Love this classic spaghetti recipe! Classic is the best!

    - Ira

  3. I remember having this pasta at 4 AM when i came back home in rome!
    great classic! This is the ultimate test for a pasta cook!

    - pat

  4. This looks simply delicious. I love spicy foods, too, so the extra chilies will definitely be happening in my house!

    - Crepes of Wrath

  5. Yes, I agree with you, classics are classics! Nothing can beat them! I checked my kitchen just now, and I have all the ingredients at hand. Will try this for lunch. :)

    - Kathy

  6. Sometimes the basics are the best. This sounds like the perfect quick dinner to me. Great photo!

    - Cookin' Canuck

  7. I make pasta like this all of the time, but you’ve given it such a pretty name, Allison! Also, I like these photographs. I find spaghetti tricky to photograph; once I’m in close enough to see the individual spaghetti strands, the sauce looks funky and visa versa. You have captured both!

    - Kate