Pasta Aglio e Olio


This simple, garlicky pasta uses pantry ingredients and comes together in minutes.

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Amelia Rampe

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins

Aglio e Olio translates to garlic and oil, and is a simple sauce usually served with pasta like spaghetti. This is a traditional Neapolitan pasta that is popular for being inexpensive and using pantry ingredients, while being utterly delicious. This recipe comes from the movie Chef, where Casper, played by Jon Favreau, makes a lusciously oily, garlicky pasta for Scarlett Johansson's character, Molly, during one pivotal scene. Roy Choi, the expert behind Kogi BBQ, created all of the film's recipes, including this pasta. Choi makes the dish often, and Favreau asked for it specifically for the film. Choi calls it "transcendence through a handful of humble ingredients." This dish is fantastic on its own, but it’s also a great side dish to pair with your favorite meat or seafood.

The beauty of Pasta Aglio e Olio comes from building out the flavor profile in the olive oil. Better yet, the whole thing comes together in the time it takes for the water to boil, making it the perfect back-pocket pasta to add to your weeknight rotation. 

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Amelia Rampe

How to Make Pasta Aglio e Olio 

Cook 12 garlic cloves in extra-virgin olive oil, which serves as the flavor base of the sauce. Cook the garlic until it is light golden brown (don't let it get too brown or burn) then add a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. When the spaghetti is cooked to al dente, add it to the garlic-infused chili oil, along with pasta water to make the sauce extra silky. Once the pasta is coated in the oil, add some parsley to freshen it up and some lemon juice for brightness. Traditionally, this dish is served without cheese, but this recipe includes it. It brings a richness and layer of savory that balances everything all out. 

RELATED: Pro Chefs Swear by This Innovative Olive Oil Brand — Here's Why

What Goes With Pasta Aglio e Olio?

This is a great blank-slate pasta; you could pair almost anything alongside. Try serving with this Whole Fish with Potato and Thyme, or this Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon, or this Chicory and Endive Salad with Spiced Pistachio


  • 1 pound dried spaghetti

  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 12 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers

  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving

  • Kosher salt and black pepper

  • cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving

  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add spaghetti, cooking until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-low. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Add drained spaghetti to pan and toss, adding pasta water, until spaghetti is thoroughly coated.

  3. Remove pan from heat, add parsley, lemon juice, and Parmesan and toss well. Check for flavor, adding more salt if necessary. Garnish with more Parmesan, lemon wedges, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Related Articles