Spaghetti all’Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti all’aglio e olio–spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, pepper flakes, and cheese–is a simple weeknight supper that the whole family, especially kids, will love.

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. The flavors of fine olive oil, garlic, and spicy red pepper flakes combine perfectly to create the ultimate comfort food with a kick that keeps you coming back for more. A generous shaving of good Parmesan completes the dish. And all in about 20 minutes flat. A delicious quick lunch or simple supper that anyone can make.–Trudie Styler

What's The Secret To This Nifty Pasta Technique?

According to Trudie Styler, the wife of Sting and the creator of this specific take on spaghetti all’aglio e olio, the pasta cooking water is the secret ingredient. She goes on to explain how the cooking water lends a unique flavor to the dish that’s a result of the salt and starch content. Finally, an explanation behind the nifty notion of why pasta water makes such a difference. Originally published August 24, 2014.

Spaghetti all’Aglio e Olio

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 3 reviews
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  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, plus more for the pasta water
  • Finely shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  • 1. 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.
  • 2. Return the pot to medium heat and pour in the olive 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.

Recipe Testers Reviews

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.

Great flavors! Viva Italia! This spaghetti all’aglio e olio instantly transported me to my travels throughout Italy. This classic dish pairs perfectly with just about anything edible.

I used 1/2 cup olive oil, added a dash freshly ground black pepper, and topped the dish with fresh basil. Serve as a main or a side dish and you will be handsomely rewarded with compliments from your diners. An absolute hit and so simple to assemble.

Just a few simple ingredients and a little time and you’ve got a satisfying and spicy main dish ready for the table.

I used 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil and that was plenty. I added a shade more than 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, and putting it all in at once was fine. The oil and water emulsified and coated the spaghetti.

While the pasta is cooking, put together a salad and warm some bread to round things out. Garlic lovers, this was excellent accompanied by garlic cheese bread with chives.

This spaghetti all’aglio e olio was a great reminder. It's very close to the spaghetti in garlic oil I routinely make. That said, my husband loved the extra kick added with the red pepper flakes. (I may have been a little heavy handed there.)

As suggested, I did use less oil rather than more, which was good because the oil I had was quite strong in flavor. The starchy cooking liquid did its trick of thickening and clinging. It really is the “secret." Simple, quick, basic, classic.

There are several reasons why this is a GREAT recipe. First, if you can boil water, you can make this dish. Next, it takes no more than a few minutes from beginning to end, and there is very little cleanup. And I really love spaghetti and this is by far the easiest way to prepare it.

I used exactly half the ingredients, except I did use the full 1/4 cup water. Even 8 ounces cooked spaghetti is quite a lot. Add a little garlic bread, a bit of wine, and a nice dessert, and you have the perfect dinner for two. Throw in a linen tablecloth and perhaps a candle and your effort (however small) will not be forgotten.

If you have the time to boil water, you have enough time to make this recipe.

This recipe can be scaled up or down very easily, to feed however many people are going to pull a chair up to your table. I divided everything in half to make dinner for the two of us. I used 1/4 cup olive oil for 1/2 pound pasta, and it worked very well. I would suggest adding spoonfuls of pasta cooking water until you get the consistency that you like. I ended up adding 3 to 4 tablespoons water. We had extremely fresh—as in recently had been made—red pepper flakes. They were very spicy, which meant that the pasta was very spicy. I found that I sprinkled on quite a bit of grated Parmesan as I was eating this dish. Now, of course, I may have wanted to use all that Parm anyway, but in this case, it did seem to temper the heat from the pepper flakes.

While you wait for the water to boil and the pasta to cook, you can chop the garlic, add the pepper flakes to it, and also make a salad. (A mixed green salad went beautifully with this, as did a Caprese salad.)

What also made the dish so delightful was the Italian red wine that we served with it. A Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC. Italian wines are usually made to accompany food, instead of being a stand-alone wine. In this case, the wine and the pasta made each other better than either was standing alone.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat pasta, especially in warmer weather. I used quinoa pasta instead of regular pasta.


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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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