Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Try this spaghetti aglio e olio recipe once, and you'll make it over and over. It uses simple ingredients, it cooks in 20 minutes, and it's totally delicious.

Spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti aglio e olio translates to “spaghetti with garlic and oil.” The traditional dish contains little more than these ingredients. It might be finished with a sprinkle of parsley or a pinch of red pepper flakes, but even these are optional. In its simplest form, this classic Italian pasta features spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

But if you’ve ever tried it, you know that spaghetti aglio e olio is far more than the sum of its parts. The garlic infuses the oil with rich, nutty flavor, and salty, starchy pasta cooking water transforms it into a deeply flavorful sauce. Add perfect al dente pasta to the mix, and it’s absolute heaven.

Spaghetti aglio e olio has been my go-to order at Italian restaurants for years, but recently, it’s become one of my favorite dishes to make at home. It comes together in just 20 minutes, it uses a handful of pantry ingredients, and it’s simply delicious. If you have pasta, garlic, and olive oil in your kitchen, try it tonight! If you’re anything like me, you’ll make it again the next night, and again the next. 🙂 Yep, it’s that good.

Aglio e olio recipe ingredients

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe Ingredients

Of course, my spaghetti aglio e olio recipe includes a few fresh twists. I start with these traditional ingredients:

  • Spaghetti: If you don’t have spaghetti on hand, use whatever pasta you do have. I recommend choosing a long pasta like fettuccine, linguine, or bucatini, but if short-cut pasta is what’s in your kitchen, it’ll still come out delicious.
  • Olive oil: Use the best one you have.
  • Garlic: The star ingredient! Don’t skimp on it – it’s essential for infusing the pasta with rich, nutty flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes: For heat! If you’re sensitive to spice, feel free to skip them, or start with just 1/4 teaspoon. If you want your pasta to have more of a kick, add up to 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Parsley: Sprinkle it over the pasta for a lovely fresh finish.

Then, I add these unconventional (but tasty!) ingredients:

  • Lemon: It may not be totally authentic, but if you ask me, a little lemon never hurt anything. I use both lemon juice and zest to fill this pasta with bright flavor.
  • Kale: If you ask me, pasta + greens are a match made in heaven. Feel free to skip the kale if you prefer, or use different greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard, if you don’t have any kale on hand.
  • Parmesan cheese: Aglio e olio purists will tell you never to serve it with cheese, but I think a shower of freshly grated Parmesan or vegan Parmesan is a welcome touch. Its nutty taste pairs perfectly with the savory garlic.

(See the full measurements at the bottom of this post!)

Kale leaves

How to Make Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

This simple pasta comes together in just 20 minutes! Follow these steps to make it (+ find the full recipe below!):

  • First, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve some of the starchy pasta water before you drain it!
  • Next, toast the garlic and red pepper flakes. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic slices and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned around the edges.
  • Then, add the kale. Toss it with the garlic oil and cook until it wilts.
  • Finally, stir in the pasta, along with the lemon juice and zest and a splash of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine, adding more pasta water, as needed, to create a light sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. That’s it!

Garnish the pasta aglio e olio with parsley and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy it on its own, or serve it with a salad like my Caesar salad, Caprese salad, or citrus salad. It would also be delicious with roasted broccoli or cauliflower and homemade focaccia or no-knead bread for sopping up any leftover oil. Buon appetito!

Spaghetti aglio e olio recipe

More Favorite Pasta Recipes

If you love this spaghetti aglio e olio recipe, try one of these easy pasta recipes next:

Then, find 25 more favorite pastas here!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

rate this recipe:
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Serves 4
This pasta aglio e olio recipe is the ultimate weeknight meal! It comes together in 20 minutes, it uses simple ingredients, and it's absolutely delicious.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • ½ to 1 cup pasta water
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • cup chopped parsley
  • Parmesan or Vegan Parmesan, for serving

Instructions

  • Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, in a pot of salted boiling water, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic is lightly browned around the edges. Add the kale, salt, and several grinds of pepper and cook, tossing with tongs, until the kale is wilted, up to 1 minute.
  • Add the spaghetti and toss to combine. Add ½ cup pasta water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and toss. If the pasta is seeming too dry, add the remaining ½ cup pasta water to create a light sauce.
  • Season to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve with Parmesan or vegan Parmesan.

39 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Susan Collison
    11.29.2022

    5 stars
    This recipe popped into my in box in the morning, and was on our dinner table that night! Delicious!!! A nice change from regular ol’ spaghetti! Thank you for such a fresh dinner idea, and easy-peasy to fix! =)

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      12.02.2022

      Hi Susan, I’m so glad you loved the pasta!

  2. Kimberly
    09.17.2022

    5 stars
    This is the best & easiest pasta aglio e olio
    I’ve ever made….used rapini instead of kale
    & the lemon made it exquisite!!!!
    Thank you, thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.19.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Helen
    08.15.2022

    3 stars
    I made this today to use up some already cooked pasta, and to avoid a grocery store run. It didn’t have the flavor I needed. So I seasoned some ground turkey and added it. Also, the kale was too chewy for me. I’ll have to use another veggie.

  4. Sarah
    06.04.2022

    5 stars
    Such a simple but delish pasta! There’s so much flavor from just a few ingredients. It was so easy to make, I’ll definitely be making it regularly!

  5. Chris
    04.04.2022

    5 stars
    This is a perfect Monday meal. Less than 15 minutes from prep to table with ingredients you generally have in hand. We used whole wheat spaghetti. The whole family loved it. We’re ditching the weekly jarred pasta sauce and replacing it with this.

    The Love and Lemon recipes have helped our family transition towards a vegetarian diet. We are working through the 40 weekday recipes, all winners so far. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.05.2022

      Hi Chris, I’m so glad you’ve been loving the recipes!

  6. gillian rees
    02.17.2022

    5 stars
    This was SO delish! Perfect balance of flavour and heat, and so simple. Will be a regular on our menu from now on, AND, wonderful dish to serve for company…5 mins of prep early and 10 mins to prepare and set on the table, easy crowd pleaser! Love it, thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.18.2022

      Hi Gillian, I’m so glad you loved it!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.