Simple Aglio E Olio Recipe

Let's be honest — there's nothing better than a big ol' bowl of pasta. It's the ultimate upscale comfort food that is really easy to make and is also pretty well-loved by people across the globe. There are many options when it comes to Italian cooking, but this simple aglio e olio is easy to make while still being incredibly flavorful. You only need some spaghetti and a few other ingredients for the simple but decadent sauce, like olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes, for a little added kick.

Recipe developer Kate Shungu came up with this easy recipe that also happens to be a classic. "I love how you can take a few simple pantry ingredients to make a flavorful dish," Shungu raves. "The olive oil and garlic jazz up the pasta, and the lemon zest makes it restaurant-worthy." Shungu also shares a few of her favorite occasions to serve this dish. "I love making this one for a simple dinner, such as on Monday night when I don't have a lot of time OR patience," she notes. If your Mondays tend to look something like Shungu's this aglio e olio recipe is here to save the day.

Gather the ingredients for this simple aglio e olio recipe

This easy pasta recipe requires just a handful of ingredients. All you need is spaghetti, salt, olive oil, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, the zest of a lemon, and chopped parsley. If you want to add a protein as well, you can. "You can easily add cooked chicken or shrimp to this dish," Shungu says. 

Cook the spaghetti

Grab a large pot and fill it with water. Then, season it generously with salt. "Make sure to salt the pasta water well. If you don't get it quite right, you can always add salt at the end to taste," Shungu notes.

Place the pot on your stove and bring the water to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the spaghetti and cook according to the instructions on the back of the box. When cooking, be sure to keep cook time on the lower end. So, if the box says 9-11 minutes, just cook it for 9 minutes. Remember, each brand will vary.

Slice the garlic

Take out a cutting board and a sharp knife. Add your garlic cloves and slice them thinly. 

Heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes

When there is only about 5 minutes left of cook time on the pasta, select a large skillet and begin making the sauce. Just add the olive oil, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Place the skillet on your stove and turn the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking for about 3-4 minutes, until the garlic is soft but not browned.

Add the pasta to the skillet

Once the pasta finishes cooking, reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water and set it to the side. Then, drain the rest of the liquid from the pasta and add the pasta to the skillet.

Throw in the reserved pasta water and the lemon zest with the other ingredients in the skillet. Toss well to combine, ensuring each piece of pasta gets coated in the sauce. "Aglio e olio is rich and garlicky, with a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes and a bit of bright citrus flavor from the lemon zest," Shungu says of the taste.

Garnish and serve

After you finish mixing the pasta, scoop it into a plate or bowl of your choice. Add parsley and more red pepper flakes for garnish. One more thing to note? This pasta is definitely best served warm.

Shungu provides a few of her favorite serving suggestions to try. "I like serving this with a leafy green salad and a glass of wine," she shares. If you have any left, it makes a great meal for later in the week. "Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days," Shungu notes. "Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet."

What a simple and easy weeknight meal! 

Simple Aglio E Olio Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
For a simple but satisfying weeknight dinner, make this simple spaghetti aglio e olio.
Prep Time
Cook Time
aglio e olio in dish
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • zest of 1 lemon
Optional Ingredients
  • chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions, using the lower end of the time. For example, if the package says 9-11 minutes, cook for 9 minutes.
  2. Thinly slice the garlic.
  3. When the pasta has 5 minutes left to cook, add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a large skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic is soft but not browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Reserve ¾ cup of the cooking liquid from the pasta. Drain the pasta, and add it to the oil in the skillet, along with the reserved cooking water and lemon zest. Toss until combined.
  5. Garnish with additional red pepper flakes and parsley. Serve while warm.
Calories per Serving 679
Total Fat 28.8 g
Saturated Fat 4.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 89.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
Total Sugars 3.9 g
Sodium 411.6 mg
Protein 15.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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