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.–David Leite

Garlic and Chile Flake Pasta FAQs

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Of course! Use what you have on hand, however, we recommend a long noodle that will allow the spicy garlic oil to cling to it.

What should I serve with this spicy pasta?

If you’re whipping this up as a midnight snack, then it requires nothing more. If you’d like something more substantial, plop a fried egg on top, as the headnote suggests. If it’s meatless Monday and you’re making dinner, put together a tossed salad, or serve it with this spicy tomato focaccia and call it a meal.

☞ Like spaghetti recipes? Try these:

A white enamel pot with a blue rim with spaghetti, chili flakes, and oil in the bottom. A set of wooden tongs sits inside.

Spaghetti with Garlic and Chile Flakes

4.81 / 21 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings2 servings
Calories567 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 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.
The Student's Cookbook

Adapted From

The Student’s Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 567 kcalCarbohydrates: 64 gProtein: 11 gFat: 29 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 21 gSodium: 14 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Keda Black. Photo © 2011 Deirdre Rooney. All rights reserved.

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 2 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 for pasta with red pepper flakes. 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 garlic chili 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!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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    1. Charles, the recipe is intended for two people, but if you have a big appetite, it could serve one person.