Spaghetti all’Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti all’aglio e olio–spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, pepper flakes, and cheese–is a simple authentic Italian classic that makes an ideal weeknight supper.

A bowl of spaghetti all'Aglio e Olio topped with olive oil and flakes of Parmesan cheese.

This spaghetti all’aglio e olio recipe is classic Italian simplicity and frugality. Or so says its author. We’re not arguing. The pasta cooking water is the secret ingredient as it lends a unique flavor to the dish that’s a result of the salt and starch content. In tandem with the garlic, your best EVOO, and cheese, it is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts.–Renee Schettler

Spaghetti all’Aglio e Olio

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 5 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 

Add the spaghetti and cook until slightly tender and still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Drain the spaghetti and reserve about 1/4 cup cooking water.

Return the pot to medium heat and pour in the oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, reduce the heat, and immediately add the drained spaghetti and the reserved cooking water. Toss and stir so that the oil and water emulsify. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the Parmesan. 

Serve the spaghetti all’aglio e olio immediately. Originally published August 24, 2014.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe was a real surprise. If you look at the list of ingredients, you might suspect a simple, possibly even bland, weeknight pasta. However, the process of vigorously stirring the pasta water with the warm garlic- and pepper-infused oil resulted in a much more complex dish. The "sauce" was emulsified to the point of almost becoming creamy and was spicy without being painful. It came together in minutes, was sourced from my pantry, and was absolutely delicious.

Spaghetti all’aglio e olio is one of my all-time favorite dishes. First, because of the taste, of course. But also because it's so easy and quick to make. I always have the ingredients on hand and it's done in a snap.

I use a buttery, not too bitter, olive oil as that works best for me. I used maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup oil plus 1/4 cup cooking water.


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  1. I blame my recent weight gain on my love for trying LC recipes…but with recipes like this, at least my bank account isn’t suffering too! Cheap, simple, and astoundingly delicious.

  2. This is one of those dishes that pulls at the heartstrings. My grandmother made this for me when I would visit. As a kid, I would say the name of the dish out loud as I ate it. Admit it, it’s fun to say. It’s even more fun with a mouth full of noodles.

  3. This has been my husband’s favorite pasta dish (and quick-fix) since we lived in Italy and you just reminded me that it has been too long since he made it for us. It really is perfect.

  4. You gotta love the Italians… when it comes to simple, delicious food, nobody does it like them! I love this recipe and when I have leftover broccoli hanging around in the fridge, I like to chop it really small and add it to the olive oil and garlic. It’s a nice twist! (and the best way to eat broccoli, I think).

    1. Lovely idea, Marina. And I have to say I simply love, love your logo on your blog–and those fonts. Now I have to brush up on my rusty Portuguese and read some!

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