A timeless Italian recipe, aglio e olio is made with just 5 ingredients (spaghetti, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese) in just 20 minutes.
Weekend or weekday, my pasta cravings just never go away! A big bowl of this fuss-free, simple pasta is always exactly what I need. Spaghetti aglio e olio, translates to “garlic and oil spaghetti”. How could you go wrong with that?
I use thin spaghetti so each piece of pasta is extra-coated in a smooth garlic oil with a touch of heat from red pepper flakes, pops of fresh parsley, and nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano. Truly delicious food does not have to take hours to prepare! From start to finish, you will have a steaming bowl of happiness in less than 20 minutes.
Looking for more Italian classics for busy weeknights? Check out one of my most popular recipes, this Creamy Lemon Pasta that is ready in 30 minutes or less!
Aglio e Olio Ingredients
- Thin spaghetti – thin spaghetti is thinner than regular spaghetti and thicker than angel hair. You can use regular spaghetti if you can’t find thin spaghetti.
- Garlic – lots of garlic is a main component of classic aglio e olio.
- Fresh Italian parsley – parsley adds brightness and freshness.
- Extra virgin olive oil – extra virgin olive oil adds flavor and moisture. A high-quality Italian olive oil is the best option, since it’s a predominant flavor in this pasta dish!
- Parmigiano-Reggiano – I highly recommend splurging on Parmigiano-Reggiano (aged parmesan cheese) for aglio e olio. With only 5 ingredients, high-quality ingredients are especially important!
- Crushed red pepper flakes – crushed red pepper flakes are commonly found in aglio e olio. For a little heat, add a dash (of a lot) of red pepper flakes! Don’t like heat? Leave the flakes out!
How To Make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Pulse a food processor or blender with garlic and olive oil until garlic resembles tiny flecks.
Boil pasta until it is al dente via cooking instructions on the package.
While pasta is cooking, place garlic oil in a pot over medium heat and add red pepper flakes and salt. Once simmering, let oil bubble for 1 minute. Turn off the burner.
Add drained pasta to garlic oil and stir until combined.
- Add more.
Add chopped parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir. Add more olive oil if needed.
Serve with more cheese and parsley.
How To Serve Aglio e Olio
The simple yet robust flavors of aglio e olio make serving it so versatile! Here are some great options:
- Classic Italian date night: put together a romantic date night and serve this pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms, and a glass of your favorite wine. Finally, end with a swish of mouthwash after all that garlic… HA!
- Impromptu gathering: when hosting a group, this dish is an absolute crowd-pleaser! It is easy to prepare larger quantities in just a few minutes. Serve with an Antipasto Salad!
- Vegetarian Option: aglio e olio is a delicious vegetarian dish that is packed with flavor! Make it a full meal and top with a protein like these Crispy Roasted Chickpeas!
- Quick Weeknight Dinner: perfect for busy weeknights, this delicious dish is ready in 20 minutes or less! Quick, easy, and satisfying for you and your family.
- Solo Dining: with only 5 ingredients and minimal cleanup, this aglio e olio recipe is perfect to prepare for one person!
There are so many delicious variations of aglio e olio! Here are a few of my favorites to try:
- Add lemon zest: brighten up this pasta with some lemon zest! The citrus will serve as a wonderful contrast to the richness of the garlic oil sauce.
- Swap fresh herbs: use fresh basil instead of fresh parsley.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes: consider adding sun-dried tomatoes for a touch of sweetness and tanginess. They will add a burst of flavor to the dish!
- Add anchovies: finely chop or mash anchovies and sauté them in the garlic oil before combining with the pasta.
- Add a protein: make it a meal and top with your favorite protein such as grilled shrimp, sliced Italian sausage, or pan-seared Scallops.
- Add veggies: incorporate your favorite cooked veggies like mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, or Sautéed Spinach.
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love!
- The Ultimate Pasta With Bacon and Peas
- Secret-Ingredient Mushroom Pasta
- Creamy Pasta Primavera
- Italian Chicken Pesto Pasta
- 1 pound thin spaghetti or regular spaghetti if you can’t find thin
- 6 large garlic cloves
- ¾ cup fresh Italian parsley roughly chopped
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or regular parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- Salt to taste
- Pulse a blender or food processor with garlic and olive oil until garlic resembles small flecks.
- Boil pasta until al dente, according to instructions on the package.
- While pasta is cooking, add garlic oil, red pepper flakes, and salt to a medium pot over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 1 minute, and then take the pot off the burner.
- Add drained pasta. Toss until combined.
- Add chopped parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir well. Add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil if pasta looks dry, tossing again.
- Serve with more grated cheese and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.