Simple and Flavorful Aglio e Olio Recipe: A Classic Italian Pasta Dish 2024

Aglio e Olio literally translates to “garlic and oil” in Italian. This dish is renowned for its simplicity, featuring pasta tossed in a luscious sauce made from garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, red pepper flakes, and parsley. It’s pronounced “ah-lyoh eh oh-lyoh.” Don’t worry about perfecting the Italian accent; just enjoy making and savoring this delightful dish! This dish boasts a beautiful harmony of flavors—garlicky, slightly spicy from the red pepper flakes, and wonderfully enhanced by the richness of the olive oil. It’s a classic that’s both comforting and satisfying.

Simple and Flavorful Aglio e Olio Recipe
Simple and Flavorful Aglio e Olio Recipe

Aglio e Olio Recipe:


  • 12 ounces spaghetti or any long pasta
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to your spice preference)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for serving)

Making Pasta:

Making Pasta:
Making Pasta
  • Boil the Pasta:
    • Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
    • Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water. It should taste like seawater. This flavors the pasta.
    • Add the spaghetti or your preferred long pasta to the boiling water and cook it according to the package instructions until it’s al dente (usually 1-2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time). Al dente means it’s cooked but still slightly firm to the bite.
    • Once cooked, use tongs or a pasta scoop to transfer the cooked pasta to a colander, draining it while keeping a cup of the pasta water aside. Set the drained pasta aside.
  • Prepare the Garlic and Oil:
    • While the pasta is cooking, place a large skillet or frying pan over medium-low heat.
    • Pour the extra-virgin olive oil into the skillet and allow it to warm for a minute or so.
    • Add the thinly sliced garlic to the warmed oil and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes. Stir gently and continuously to infuse the oil with the garlic and pepper flavor.
    • Cook the garlic until it turns a golden color and becomes fragrant. This usually takes about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic; adjust the heat if needed.
  • Combine Pasta with Garlic Oil Mixture:
    • Once the garlic is golden and aromatic, remove the skillet from the heat.
    • Carefully transfer the cooked pasta directly into the skillet with the garlic and oil mixture. Toss the pasta in the skillet to coat it evenly with the flavorful oil.
  • Adjust Consistency and Seasoning:
    • If the pasta seems dry or lacks coating, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water to the skillet gradually. This helps create a light sauce that clings to the pasta without making it too watery.
    • Season the pasta with salt to your taste preference. Remember, the pasta water already contains salt, so adjust accordingly.
  • Finish and Garnish:
    • Sprinkle the finely chopped fresh parsley over the pasta. The parsley adds a burst of freshness and color.
    • Toss the pasta once more to ensure the parsley is evenly distributed.
  • Serve:
    • Transfer the Aglio e Olio pasta to serving plates or a large serving bowl.
    • Optionally, offer grated Parmesan cheese on the side for diners to add to their portions according to their preference.
  • Storage:
    • Store any leftover Aglio e Olio in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently in a skillet with a splash of water to revive its flavors.

Additional Tips:

  1. Ensure the garlic slices are thinly sliced to prevent them from burning and becoming bitter.
  2. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes according to your spice tolerance.
  3. Fresh parsley adds a vibrant flavor, but you can experiment with other herbs like basil or oregano.

Yield, Prep Time and Calories

  • Yield: The recipe typically serves around 4 people as a main course.
  • Preparation Time: The preparation time can vary but generally takes around 15-20 minutes, depending on your cooking skills and efficiency.
  • Calories: The calorie count for a serving can also vary based on portion size and specific ingredients used. On average, a serving of Aglio e Olio (around 1/4 of the prepared recipe) contains approximately 300-350 calories. This estimation includes the pasta, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and other ingredients listed in the recipe.
YieldServes approximately 4 people
Preparation TimeApproximately 15-20 minutes
CaloriesAround 300-350 calories per serving (1/4 of prepared recipe)
Yield, Prep Time and Calories

What to Serve with Aglio e Olio:

What to Serve with Aglio e Olio:
What to Serve with Aglio e Olio
  • Simple Side Salad: A fresh green salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and a light vinaigrette dressing adds a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of Aglio e Olio.
  • Garlic Bread or Breadsticks: Toasted garlic bread or crispy breadsticks make an excellent accompaniment. They’re perfect for dipping into any remaining oil from the pasta dish.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, or cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with herbs complement the pasta’s flavors beautifully.
  • Antipasto Platter: Create an antipasto platter with an assortment of Italian cured meats (like prosciutto or salami), marinated olives, cheeses (such as mozzarella or provolone), and roasted red peppers for a flavorful addition.
  • Bruschetta: Serve classic bruschetta with diced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil on toasted bread slices. It adds a burst of freshness and tanginess to the meal.
  • Herb-Roasted Potatoes: Seasoned oven-roasted potatoes with a blend of herbs like rosemary, thyme, and garlic can be a hearty and satisfying side dish.
  • Grilled or Roasted Chicken: For those who prefer a protein-rich addition, grilled or roasted chicken seasoned with Italian herbs and spices pairs wonderfully with the pasta.
  • Steamed or Sautéed Greens: Serve a side of sautéed spinach, broccoli, or Swiss chard lightly seasoned with garlic and olive oil for a nutritious and flavorful option.
  • Caprese Salad: Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic glaze and olive oil create a light and refreshing salad that complements the pasta’s flavors.

Enjoy your homemade Aglio e Olio! It’s a delightful taste of Italy that’s quick to make and bursting with flavors. Buon appetito!

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What does “Aglio e Olio” mean in English?

“Aglio e Olio” translates to “garlic and oil” in English. It refers to a traditional Italian pasta dish made primarily with garlic and olive oil as key ingredients.

Is Aglio e Olio a spicy dish?

Aglio e Olio can have a mild to moderate level of spiciness due to the addition of red pepper flakes. The amount of red pepper flakes used can be adjusted according to personal preference for heat.

Can I use other types of pasta for Aglio e Olio besides spaghetti?

Yes, Aglio e Olio works well with various long pasta shapes such as linguine, fettuccine, or even bucatini. The key is to use pasta that can hold the sauce effectively.

Is Aglio e Olio a vegetarian dish?

Yes, Aglio e Olio can be considered a vegetarian dish as it primarily consists of garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and pasta. However, some variations might include optional additions like anchovies, so it’s best to check the specific recipe.

Can I store leftover Aglio e Olio?

Yes, you can store leftover Aglio e Olio in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat it gently in a skillet with a splash of water to revive its flavors.

Can I add other ingredients to Aglio e Olio?

While the traditional recipe features garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes, some variations include additions like sautéed vegetables, shrimp, or grated cheese. Feel free to experiment and customize the dish to your taste preferences.

How can I prevent the garlic from burning when making Aglio e Olio?

To avoid burning the garlic, cook it over medium-low heat and keep a close eye on it. Stir the garlic frequently and remove the skillet from the heat as soon as it turns golden and aromatic.

Is Aglio e Olio a healthy dish?

Aglio e Olio can be a part of a balanced diet. Olive oil, a key ingredient, is rich in healthy fats, and the dish generally contains simple, fresh ingredients. However, portion sizes and additional ingredients can impact its overall nutritional content.

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