Spaghetti with Garlic and Chile Flakes

This simple spaghetti with garlic and chile flakes couldn’t be more simple. Just spaghetti, garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes. Great for lunch, snack, or a fast weeknight dinner.

This simple spaghetti with garlic and chile flakes is perfect for when the pantry is bare and you’re scrounging for a simple no-stress supper or a late-night nosh or even some morning sustenance when you plop a fried egg atop. So when it’s half past when you’d wanted to eat and it seems like the fridge and pantry are bare, take a look at this recipe. And then think again.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Spaghetti with Garlic and Chile Flakes

A white enamel pot with a blue rim with spaghetti, chili flakes, and oil in the bottom. A set of wooden tongs sits inside.
This simple spaghetti with garlic and chile flakes couldn’t be more simple. Just spaghetti, garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes. Great for lunch, snack, or a fast weeknight dinner.
Keda Black

Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins
2 servings
567 kcal
4.7 / 13 votes
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  • 6 ounces spaghetti or more, if desired
  • 3 large-ish garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 big pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Take out a large pot and bring at least 8 cups water to a rolling boil. Add some salt, then plunge in the pasta. Wait for the water to come back to a boil and then cook according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta is cooking, peel the garlic and slice it as thinly as possible.
  • When your pasta is ready, drain it, reserving a little of the cooking liquid in a bowl.
  • Place the pot or a skillet on medium heat and pour in the oil. Add the garlic and chiles and cook briefly, until the garlic just starts to turn golden.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add the drained pasta and maybe 2 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid, as much as needed to get your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Print RecipeBuy the The Student’s Cookbook cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 567kcal (28%)Carbohydrates: 64g (21%)Protein: 11g (22%)Fat: 29g (45%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gSodium: 14mg (1%)Potassium: 206mg (6%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 148IU (3%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 23mg (2%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

As soon as I read this simple spaghetti recipe, it brought back college memories. Those crazy late nights partying or finishing architectural models, then returning to the dorm and being hungry, yet not wanting to cook a full meal. I used to make something extremely similar, hence I wanted to try this.

I did, however, change a few of the measurements. I decided to make 3 1/2 ounces of pasta with 5 small garlic cloves, 1/2 tablespoon of dried chiles, and 7 tablespoons of olive oil. The final result was absolutely amazing in its full simplicity, and every single person at the table asked me to redo it sometime soon.

I would eat this simple and delicious midnight pasta any time of day! I love pasta recipes like this one because the pasta itself is the star of the show. That is a very Italian concept that I absolutely love — minimal but delicious sauce on quality pasta.

The recipe should clarify how much pasta cooking liquid to reserve as well I recommend only adding about 2o tablespoons back to the cooked pasta so it isn’t too soupy. The red pepper flakes are listed as optional, but I would definitely make them not optional! Overall, this was a truly easy but flavorful pasta dish that I will be making again—whether it is midnight or not!

This is a super easy and adjustable recipe. Actually, what makes it great is that anyone can put their own unique spin on it, by adding some seasonal vegetables or fresh herbs. It’s a great template, but also just useful to have on hand for when you’re hungry and don’t have anything but the pantry staples.

This turned out to be the perfect amount of pasta for the two of us. I reserved about one half cup of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce out at the end and ended up using all of it, adding a little at a time over the heat. This pasta is delicious! Use the freshest garlic and your best olive oil when making this. I like spicy food, so I used about 1/2 teaspoon of dried chile flakes. Watch the garlic carefully, as it goes from golden to burnt in a matter of seconds. Add some salt and black pepper to finish, and you don’t need Parmesan cheese, as the dish is very flavorful considering the few ingredients. Will definitely make this quick, tasty pasta dish again!

The amount of spaghetti is perfect for this pasta dish. The dried chiles (red pepper flakes would work) take this to a new level. So easy and perfect to go with almost any protein. Most of the family grated a little Parmesan over their pasta, and we all agreed it would be great with shrimp, broccoli rabe, anchovy fillets, or a variety of other ingredients. A wonderful side dish, base to a main dish or midnight snack!

Originally published July 21, 2020


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    1. Nice, Mike. A splash of color, a little sweetness, exactly what the dish needs! And if ever you don’t have chile flakes on hand but do have jalapeno, try that with the peas. And a little Parmesan if you have it!

  1. I love making homemade pasta. After a phase of always trying out super-mega recipes for the sauce, I finally learned that the BEST way to honor all the work of making your own spaghetti is simply to dress it in a good old aglio e olio! Not more, not less, just perfect and honest. Thank you for the recipe!



  2. This is really a simple recipe and with the red chili flakes and pepper, it sounds too good. Will try this with a pack of spaghetti I have.

  3. It certainly does bring back memories as I still eat a version of this 30+ years later. I have changed the olive oil to sesame seed oil, omit the garlic and add oil drenched sun dried tomatoes, capers and goat cheese.

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