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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

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Classic Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is easy to make with just 4 simple ingredients (spaghetti, olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes), it comes together in 20 minutes, and it is always such a winner.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe

Guys, have you made spaghetti aglio e olio before?

Barclay and I saw this classic pasta dish on menus everywhere during our trip to Rome and Naples a few years ago, and have enjoyed perfecting our version of it at home ever since. It’s ultra-easy to make with just four ingredients — garlic (aglio), olive oil (olio), spaghetti, and a hint of red chile peppers. But while Italians typically use chopped fresh red chiles (peperoncini) in this dish, fresh red chile peppers can be a bit harder to find here in Spain and elsewhere around the world. So we typically just use a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes from our pantry.

That said, I learned on our trip to Italy that I had actually been making this dish wrong in years past, when I used to just toss spaghetti in the garlicky oil once it had finished cooking. The key to creating a gorgeous, glossy, non-greasy sauce is to create an emulsion with the garlicky oil and that magical starchy pasta water (the key to most good pasta sauces!). All you have to do transfer the pasta and a half-ish cup of that hot starchy pasta water directly into the pan of garlicky oil one minute before the pasta is done cooking. Then while you toss the pasta, all of that heat and starch will help the garlic oil emulsify into a beautiful glossy sauce, while the pasta soaks up some extra garlicky flavors as it finishes cooking.

It’s a simple tweak that’s guaranteed to kick your aglio e olio up a delicious notch, and it could not be easier. So grab some garlic and olive oil, and let’s make this classic pasta dish together!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio | 1-Minute Video

Aglio e Olio (Garlic and Olive Oil Sauce)

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Ingredients:

First, a brief chat about the ingredients needed to make spaghetti aglio e olio (pronounced “ah-lee-oh eh oh-lee-oh”)…

  • Spaghetti: Or linguine, fettuccine, or any other shape of pasta noodle you prefer.
  • Olive oil: Since olive oil is the main ingredient in this sauce, I really recommend using the best-quality extra virgin olive oil you can find. It will make a difference!
  • Garlic: I admittedly like tons of garlic in this pasta (like, closer to 10-12 cloves). But it is traditionally made with between 4-8 cloves. So you do what sounds best to you!
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: Traditional spaghetti aglio e olio is made with fresh peperoncini (red hot chile peppers) that are commonly found throughout Italy. But since they are harder to find in other countries, I have written this recipe using dried crushed red pepper flakes, which we will simmer in the olive oil to bring out their best flavor.
  • Optional garnishes: The two most popular toppings for this classic Italian dish are finely-minced fresh parsley and/or freshly-grated Parmesan. I love adding both, but they are totally optional.

Detailed ingredient amounts and instructions listed in the full recipe below.

How To Make Aglio e Olio

How To Make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio:

To make classic spaghetti aglio e olio, simply…

  1. Cook the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti in a generously-salted pot of boiling water until it is just one minute shy of being al dente.
  2. Sauté the garlic.  Meanwhile, about 3 minutes after you add the pasta to the boiling water, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the garlic is lightly golden.
  3. Toss the pasta in the sauce.  Once the pasta is ready to go, use tongs to transfer the pasta immediately to the sauté pan, along with 1/2 cup of the hot starchy pasta water. Toss the pasta continuously until it is evenly coated in the garlic sauce. If the sauce looks a bit too dry, add in another 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  4. Taste and season. Give the pasta a quick taste add an extra pinch of salt and/or crushed red pepper flakes if needed.
  5. Serve. Serve immediately while it’s nice and hot, garnished with any toppings that sound good.

A few important tips:

  • Have all of your ingredients ready to go. Things move fairly quickly once the pasta begins to cook, so I recommend having all of your ingredients laid out, chopped and ready to go.
  • It’s important that the garlic not burn. If turns lightly golden before the pasta is ready to go, just remove the pan from the heat until it’s time to add the pasta.
  • Don’t forget to salt that pasta water! You’ve heard me say it before, but this is the main time that you really get to season the pasta itself. So be sure to add a generous helping of sea salt to the water.

Aglio e Olio Recipe

Possible Variations:

There are all sorts of variations that you can make on this recipe! For example, feel free to…

  • Add anchovies: This is another popular option in Italy! Finely chop up a few anchovies and sauté them in the garlic sauce to add some extra salty umami flavor to this dish.
  • Add basil: This pasta would also be delicious sprinkled with chopped fresh basil instead of parsley, if you happen to have some on hand.
  • Add extra crushed red pepper flakes: If you would like your pasta to have more heat, feel free to double (or even triple!) the amount of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Use minced or smashed garlic: If thin slices of garlic aren’t your thing, you are welcome to mince (or press) the garlic instead. Or you can just smash the whole garlic cloves and sauté them to infuse the olive oil, then remove and discard the cloves before adding the pasta to the sauce.
  • Add a protein: Of course, you are also welcome to add any cooked protein (such as chicken, shrimp, steak, or pork) to your spaghetti.
  • Add veggies: And/or you can add in any cooked veggies that you love too (such as broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, etc).

More Classic Italian Pasta Recipes:

Looking for more classic Italian pasta recipes? Here are a few of my faves:

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Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 24 reviews
  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x


This classic Spaghetti Aglio e Olio recipe is easy to make with just 4 simple ingredients in 20 minutes.  Please tweak the amount of garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to your liking!


  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • optional garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, freshly-grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook the spaghetti. Bring a large stockpot of generously-salted water to a boil.  Add spaghetti and cook until nearly al dente (like, just one minute shy of being done).
  2. Sauté the garlic.  Meanwhile, about 3 minutes after you add the pasta to the boiling water, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the sliced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it is lightly golden.  (It’s very important that the garlic not burn.  So if the pasta is not ready to go by the time the garlic is lightly golden, remove the sauté pan from the heat until the pasta is ready.)
  3. Toss the pasta in the sauce.  As soon as the pasta is ready to go, use tongs to transfer the pasta to the sauté pan, along with 1/2 cup of the hot starchy pasta water.  Toss the pasta continuously until it is evenly coated in the garlic sauce.  If the sauce looks a bit too dry, add in another 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  4. Taste and season.  Give the pasta a quick taste add an extra pinch of salt and/or crushed red pepper flakes if needed.
  5. Serve. Serve immediately while it’s nice and hot, garnished with any toppings that sound good.


Storage instructions: Refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.  (These noodles also taste delicious served cold!)

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41 comments on “Spaghetti Aglio e Olio”

  1. I grew up eating this on Fridays during Lent. My mother served it with banana peppers that she canned instead of the crushed red pepper. Sometimes to mix it up she would drain a can of tuna fish and add that. Thank you for sharing and evoking a cherished memory.

  2. “I admittedly like tons of garlic in this pasta (like, closer to 10-12 cloves).”

    You’re adapting to living in Spain, aren’t you? My partner is half Spanish and nothing that requires garlic is cooked in our kitchen with less than 4 cloves. XD

    Looking forward to making this! We recently bought some quality olive oil, which we both love. Plus, garlic. Yum!

  3. I love this dish. Try adding fresh mint, you’ll love it. It doesn’t taste at all minty but gives a nice little herby sharpness to the dish. I add whatever is in my herb garden and I’ve never been disappointed. I used to use a different recipe that had you remove the garlic before adding the pasta but I love garlic so leaving it in is better.

  4. I grew up on this and have always loved it. We topped ours with grated cheese and toasted bread crumbs.

  5. Made this last night amazingly simple, amazingly good! Thank you Ali for this forever keeping recipe which came at the perfect time as supplies are limited in our homes. Stay well,

  6. Excellent

  7. Carbonara, I love recipe

  8. I can’t wait to try this. Looks amazing. I love all your recipes and have been following your blog for years. Can you please share the details of the pasta machine you use?

  9. Yes, so simple and soooo yummie!

  10. wow this is so nice,I love Italian dishes

  11. Have you tried this with gluten free pasta? Hoping to make this tonight!

  12. Delish and easy to prepare, its in our rotation of meals that make us happy :)

  13. This is my new favorite quick dinner and loaded with flavor! Just found your site and can’t wait to try other recipes. Like that you give options to make it vegetarian and additions. Made this tonight and had some mushrooms that were needed to be cooked. Sauted them and added to my bowl. I can’t stop eating this pasta! I make extra just to over indulge and have leftovers! Only wish nutritional value was included with your recipes.

  14. It was good though I did add some red bell peppers and capers. With spanish style salmon as toppings. ?

  15. This was so good! A family favorite.

  16. We love this recipe. Easy and delicious.

  17. This recipe is exceptional with some parmesan cheese on top!

  18. I remember Spaghetti Aglio e Olio being made on 2 of my favorite cooking shows this summer. The way it was described and prepared on the shows made me want to make it myself so badly. This was one of the first and most well received recipes I had found online. I’m so glad I tried it! Your instructions are clear and simple and I like that you’ve acknowledged other variations and more traditional styles of the recipe. This tasted delicious, requires common/easy to find ingredients, and didn’t take long to make. I would definitely recommend and plan on making this again.

  19. Being raised in an Italian family, we always had this on Christmas Eve with our other 6 fishes. I say 6 because my Grandmother and later my aunt added a can of anchovies in with the oil and browned garlic until they disappeared! Added some homemade croutons and cooked capellini and away we go!

  20. Simple and delicious! I made this with Banza Cavatappi pasta (my husband has celiac disease). The box only contains 8oz. of pasta. I used the 1/2 cup of extra virgin anyway and about 12 cloves of garlic. Added cooked loose Italian sausage. Garnished with fresh basil and parsley!

  21. I’m wondering how you would make this with your homemade pasta. Would you just cook it for 30 seconds in the boiling water and then transfer over to the saute pan? Is that long enough to get the water starchy enough to add to the sauce? I LOVE your homemade pasta and aglio e olio is one of my favorite dishes ever so I can’t wait to combine them!

  22. Thanks for your recipe of Aglio e Olio. It is yummy with shrimp even without red pepper flakes.

  23. Definitely a winner! Quick and easy and light yet flavorful. I added more red pepper cause that’s just my taste. But the addition of fresh squeezed lemon juice is a must. I otherwise didn’t require any added salt. But I’d like to try next time with more garlic and either mushrooms or shrimp and I’ll be certain to have some fresh basil on hand.

  24. Absolutely loved it, great for meatless Monday

  25. This is amazingly satisfying. Went really well with a lemon-intensive Caesar salad. Added Parmesan Reggiano to both.

  26. Husband wanted easy, garlic, olive oil pasta for dinner tonight and I found you!!! So easy and delicious. I added langostino lobster to the oil, garlic in the pan. I omitted the RPF this time. Sprinkled it with very fine chopped parsley. It is a keeper just like any other of your recipes. Perfect for Lent.
    Thank you!!! *****

  27. This was a study snack for me all through college. Then a quick meal when I had little time (or desire) for anything else. Now, some 55 years further down that road from when I learned it, ny kids and grandkids are all in for this delicious pasta. Lately I have been adding some fresh pesto to the dish and mixing that in as well. Super good!

  28. Always looking for a good Aglio e Olio and this compares to my friend from Milan her dish. So simple, but full of flavor!! Thank you!

  29. Are you supposed to serve it with all that oil/water, or do you remove it from the pan with tongs and place in a serving dish so the oil is left behind?

  30. Very good! Using the starchy water is a great tip!

  31. I grew up on this as my mom is from Italy and it was a staple in our house. This is the most authentic recipe you will find. Add the extra cloves of garlic he recommends. Do be afraid to experiment by adding diff veggies, like…mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, asparagus, etc. And load it up with parm or romano cheese.

  32. This is the best aglio olio recipes ever
    Thank you 😊

  33. Could you add a splash of dry white wine for the acid to help emulsify the sauce?

  34. Excellent and very easy! I told my husband that I was cooking today and he cracked up laughing… he loved the pasta and so did I!!!

  35. I am going to make this… but I have leftover spaghetti , will this still be ok?

  36. I only added 2-3 tableSpoons of italian breadcrumbs to the olive oil+hot red pepper flakes+garlic to toast for 1-2 min and that makes the tasty oil mixture kinda stick to the spaghetti when everything is mixed at the end:) served with blanched broccoli rabe on the side. Great east and very tasty recipe! Thank you!

  37. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and memories of it! I have been making this for years, and always thinly slice the garlic instead of chopping it. My dad used to order this dish almost every Friday night for 3 years at Riva’s Italian restaurant in Houston back in 1977. Wonderful memories of him picking up a slice of garlic bread and asking “Who wants a dunk?”, meaning into the awesome garlic sauce left in his bowl! No one refused!! LOL What really caught my eye was the optional addition of anchovies. It is freaking ahhmazing!! My dad would have loved that addition, but he passed in March this year. Now I have made this dish with anchovies 4 times!! Thank you again❣

  38. Perfection! Your directions were spot on. A simple yet amazing dish that will now be a regular for us! Thank you!!!

  39. I add a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half, and serve with parmesan cheese. Delicious!

  40. Looks delicious will have to try it 😋

  41. YUM! I use penne because that’s what my husband prefers, and 10-12 cloves of garlic. Top with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese … we have this at least once a month!