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Simplicity rules in this back-to-basics recipe for a classic Italian pasta. Meaning "garlic and oil," this Spaghetti Aglio e Olio uses a splash of pasta water and olive oil to create a silky, glistening, and perfectly simple pasta dish. Kate, Recipe Hunter

Kate Swanson, NoshOnIt Recipe Hunter


Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Perfect and pure pasta, perfected

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe - Classic Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil

Sometimes the best things in life are the most simple and this recipe shows how to make one of the most basic yet authentic of pasta dishes.

Commonly found across all of Italy, spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and oil) creates a glistening sauce from just 2 simple things – extra virgin olive oil and pasta cooking water. Unlike most pasta dishes where garlic is added to hot oil, for a true aglio e olio, the garlic and oil are started in a cold pan so they infuse as they heat up, creating an aromatic garlic oil. A pinch of red chile flakes adds a touch of spice before the pasta is added and tossed along with parsley and parmesan cheese. A healthy splash of starchy pasta water helps thicken the sauce and makes it stick to the pasta for a simple weeknight pasta dish that truly shines. While some purists swear by just oil, garlic, chile flakes, and parsley  (and perhaps cheese), our version also includes lemon zest, which brightens the dish at the last minute.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous handful of salt. Add the dried pasta and cook according to the package directions, subtracting 1-2 minutes to ensure that the pasta is al dente. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  2. As soon as you add the dried pasta to the water, add the olive oil and garlic to a cold large saucepan. Heat the pan over medium heat until the garlic starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes.
  3. Continue cooking the garlic for an additional 2-3 minutes until it just starts to brown lightly around the edges. Add the crushed red chile flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water from the large pot. Add ½ cup of this pasta water to the pan with the garlic and oil and simmer for 1-2 minutes to form the sauce. By this time, the pasta should be done. Transfer the pasta directly from the pot to the saucepan using tongs.
  5. Toss the pasta with the garlic and oil mixture and continue to simmer until there’s almost no visible liquid left in the bottom of the pan. If the pan looks dry from the beginning, add a few splashes of the remaining reserved pasta water.
  6. Add the parmesan cheese, parsley, lemon zest, and salt. Toss to combine then serve.


Vijay Nathan, NoshOnIt Recipe Hunter and Chef

I’m a former chef so my cooking is aggressive, big-flavored, and unapologetic. I incorporate inspiration from around the world into my food, using bold spices and seasonal ingredients to make hearty, satisfying dishes.

In addition to being the “Chief Nosher” at NoshOn.It, Vijay is a “recovering” professional chef who has been in the restaurant and food world for over a decade. His food is always hearty, satisfying, and flavorful – a style influenced by his Texan upbringing and Indian heritage. This dish is one of his staples and, luckily, something that the NoshOn.It team has enjoyed on many occasions!

Make sure to say hello to Vijay on Twitter.


Kitchen Basics: Save the Pasta Water

When boiling pasta, save some of the reserved starchy pasta water and add to your sauces to help the sauce stick the pasta and have a silky consistency.

Read the full tip >