Pasta with olive oil and garlic or aglio e olio in Italian is a classic and delicious Italian pasta recipe that is made with pasta, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes and Parmesan. It takes only a few ingredients and just minutes to make. It can easily be made with just staples in your fridge and pantry. This simple garlic and olive oil pasta will be your new favorite quick pasta dish once you see how delicious and easy it is to make.
About this Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil
This Italian garlic and oil pasta (aglio e olio) is such an easy dinner to make and in our house we call this "emergency pasta" or "Italian Fast Food". It is our go to dish when we are in a rush or just need a quick meal to make because we are too tired to cook a big meal.
We also love serving this alongside our Italian Baked Zucchini because it goes perfectly with the sauce and cheese from that dish. This garlic and oil pasta is essentially the base for spaghetti nerano which is Italian spaghetti with zucchini.
You could add fried zucchini to this dish as well. This garlic and oil pasta along with my white wine garlic butter sauce for pasta, and easy carbonara are my go to dishes for fast easy meals.
This simple garlic and oil pasta has only a few ingredients and you probably already have these in your pantry. We often use this dish as the meal we return home to after a long vacation.
We always have pasta, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan in our house and they are all things that we can leave in our house (or fridge in the case of the cheese) and they are still good when we return home.
Olive Oil Sauce Ingredients
You only need a few ingredients to make this simple classic garlic and olive oil pasta. It is really the best quick meal.
- Pasta. I prefer Spaghetti or thin spaghetti.
- Garlic. Make sure to use fresh garlic for this recipe.
- Fresh ground black pepper for plating
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. A good quality extra virgin olive oil is important.
- Sprinkling of fresh basil or fresh parsley (optional)
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Making this garlic and olive oil pasta is very easy. It has only a couple steps and you will be on your way to a delicious dinner.
If you have 15 minutes then you can make this dish.
How to Make Garlic and Oil Pasta (aka Pasta Aglio e Olio)
How simple is that! The olive oil garlic sauce is literally cooked in the time it takes to cook your pasta.
I just love the simplicity of this dish and that it tastes so amazing even though it is made in minutes.
Additions to this garlic and olive oil pasta
Now we will often will eat this garlic and olive oil pasta on its own but we also like to add in vegetables to make it a more complete meal. This makes a great base to so many veggies.
Our favorite additions to this really simple garlic and olive oil pasta are spinach and kale. I also love adding Arugula. You can add these greens in right before you are ready to serve the pasta and the heat will wilt them down without any additional cooking.
Any leafy green will taste great added to this pasta. If you want to try adding some into your pasta just add it the end when you are tossing your pasta in the sauce.
If leafy greens are not your thing then you can also add roasted vegetables. I love adding my charred broccoli to this pasta. You can pretty much add whatever veggies you have on hand.
If you do choose to add in non leafy green veggies then you will want to find a way to cook them ahead of time.
Thanks to this easy Italian garlic and oil spaghetti recipe, you will never have to worry about what meal you are going to eat after vacation or when you are low on ingredients.
This meal is so delicious despite its simplicity and should be part of your cooking repertoire instead of ordering out!
Tips for making the Best Garlic and Oil Pasta
- You always want to make sure you add pasta water to the cooked pasta. When you add your cooked pasta to the olive oil and garlic you will be cooking and tossing it around for a couple minutes. During this time the pasta is drinking up the liquids in the pan. Having some reserved pasta water on hand allows you to add some moisture back into the pasta dish when this happens.
- Always cook your pasta very al dente for this recipe. This means draining your pasta about 1 minute before al dente. Check your pasta brand and the manufacturers instructions for what they say the time is for al dente. The reason for making sure it is very al dente is you want to give your pasta a couple minutes to cook in the olive oil and garlic sauce that you made and absorb all those delicious flavors. This is how you have a very flavorful Aglio e Olio.
- Make sure you use good quality ingredients (se e my tips below for this). This really helps in recipes with only a few ingredients. For the Parmesan, make sure it is from Italy. For the pasta, make sure it is a good brand.
How to Choose the Best Olive Oil
When looking for a good quality olive oil for this garlic and oil pasta, there are a few things you want to be looking for. Here are my tips to pick the best olive oil when shopping.
- First, you want to look for extra virgin olive oil that has been produced in Italy for the most authentic taste. Many olive oil brands are mixed from different countries and not as pure in flavor.
- The next thing you want to make sure of is that you are choosing extra virgin olive oil. This is the least processed olive oil and the one that will have the most flavor.
- Last, I prefer unfiltered olive oil with my cooking. Unfiltered will have a little sediment at the bottom but to me it also has the most flavor.
Tips and What to Look for When Buying Parmigiano Reggiano
There are only a couple things you need to look for when buying Parmigiano Reggiano at the store.
- First, it needs to be have the name parmigiano reggiano! This means it was made in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and it is the only true parmigiano reggiano. This region has rights to this name and no one is allowed to name the cheese with this exact name if it was not produced there. If you see the word Parmesan, it was produced elsewhere.
- When buying parmigiano reggiano at the store, this cheese is sold by weight and it is a little pricey. When I shop for my cheese, I like to look for wedges that have the least amount of rind on them so I am not paying for that and instead paying for more of the cheese 🙂
How to Choose the Best Pasta for this Recipe
When thinking about what pasta goes best with this recipe, the traditional way to eat pasta with garlic and olive oil is with spaghetti or even thin spaghetti. You can also choose to use a penne or rigatoni with this recipe and both go really well.
When buying pasta for this recipe, or any pasta recipe, it is important to buy a high quality bronze aged durham wheat pasta. Spending a few extra cents (or dollars) is well worth it for this type of recipe that has only a few ingredients.
If you are looking for what to serve with this easy garlic and olive pasta recipe, here are some of our favorites:
Aglio e olio literally translates to garlic with oil. You can use any pasta shape to use with an aglio e olio sauce but spaghetti is traditional.
The best way to heat up garlic and oil for pasta is in a skillet on low heat while the pasta is cooking. Just follow the steps in this recipe.
For More Easy Pasta Recipes
Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
Pasta with Chickpeas Spinach and Lemon
Pasta with Pancetta and Mushrooms
Broken Noodles with Sausage and Kale
Ricotta Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms
Cheese Tortellini with Brown Butter Sauce
Easy Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil (Aglio e Olio)
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 1 lb spaghetti or thin spaghetti
- 1 cup of reserved pasta water see directions below
- ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes don't worry it wont be spicy!
- freshly grated black pepper for serving
- kosher salt for pasta water and more to taste
- For the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil for your pasta, finely mince up your garlic.5 cloves of garlic finely minced
- Once pasta water is boiling you can start with the next step.
- In a large saute pan over low heat, add your olive oil and red pepper flakes.¼ cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Allow the oil and red pepper flakes to cook for a minute while you start on your pasta.
- No throw a a good a big pinch of salt into the pasta water (pasta water should be salty like ocean water). Add your pasta and stir well so the pasta does not stick and cook it according to the box instructions for al dente.1 lb spaghetti or thin spaghetti, kosher salt
- Next add your garlic to the saute pan with the olive oil and red pepper flakes and simmer on low for just one minute making sure not to let the garlic brown, If it looks like it is getting brown then remove it from the heat.
- After your pasta has been cooking for a minute, grab a coffee mug and scoop out a mug full of pasta water. Add half of it now to the garlic and oil in the pan and reserve half for later.1 cup of reserved pasta water
- Once pasta is cooked, drain and add the pasta to your sauté pan with the garlic and olive oil.
- Toss the pasta well to coat all of the pasta with the garlic and olive oil mixture. Keep cooking your pasta in the saute pan for a minute or two (you will notice the pasta will start to drink up that olive oil mixture).
- When you see the pan looking dry and not too much sauce remaining, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water from the mug and mix for 1 more minute.
- Now, turn off your heat and season to taste with salt and lots of pepper.
- Plate your pasta in 4 large bowls topping each with a good sprinkling of the fresh Parmesan and serve with fresh ground black pepper on the side.freshly grated black pepper, ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here
This was so good! I made it as a quick meal because I had all the ingredients and I am glad I did. I will be making this often. I will try some of the vegetable additions next time!
So glad you enjoyed it! Adding veggies is our favorite way to make a quick and healthy meal 🙂
Such an easy and tasty dish. Made it for a quick dinner and it was great
Hi Anthony. I am glad to hear that!
Absolutely delicious! So simple and so much flavor. Excellent tip to use pasta water.
So glad you enjoyed it!
This was so good! I definitely will be making it again
So glad to hear that! Thanks for sharing Bryan 🙂
This was absolutely delicious!
So glad you enjoyed it!
This was the perfect quick pasta and everyone loved it
So glad to hear that!
Came out amazing!
I am so glad you enjoyed it!
We needed a quick meal so we tried this garlic and oil pasta and it was amazing. Cooking the pasta in the sauce for a couple minutes really made it! Thanks for sharing
I am so glad you enjoyed it!
This garlic and oil pasta was devoured by the family! It was simple and delicious
Came out great