Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

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You really can’t get much more simple than this delicious take on the traditional Spaghetti Aglio e olio. In this version, I add a bunch of fresh herbs and a little bit of cheeses to boost the flavor a bit.

This easy pasta dish is perfect for a busy weeknight. It is made with pantry staples, uses few pots and pans, and it is ready in 20 minutes!

white plate with spaghetti aglio e olio and black fork sticking inside the center

This post has been updated from its original publish date of August, 2019 to include new images and helpful information.

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • KID FRIENDLY – The simple herb and garlic flavors are a hit in our home and the kids just love it!
  • HEALTHY – Good for you olive oil, fresh herbs, and only real food ingredients are in this delicious pasta dish!
  • INEXPENSIVE – With only a few simple ingredients, this recipes is ultra budget friendly.

How to make spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti Aglio e olio is a classic Italian pasta dish. It is traditionally made by sautéing garlic in olive oil, and adding red pepper flakes, then is tossed with spaghetti noodles.

In this version, we include fresh herbs and a little bit of fresh Italian cheeses and some red pepper chili flakes for a little kick.

The sauce is made up of olive oil and a small amount of pasta cooking water. Pasta water retains a lot of starch so it is helpful to use to create a sauce. It will help the oil sauce to stick to the pasta.

three bowls of spaghetti aglio e olio with black forks resting to the side


This recipe is incredibly simple and uses a lot of basic pantry staples and/or fresh herbs that you could easily grow at home.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • spaghetti noodles
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • crushed red pepper
  • fresh basil 
  • fresh mint
  • fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
  • freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons reserved pasta water
  • pinch of salt or more to taste
  • more freshly shredded or grated pecorino or parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

🫒 Recipe tips

sourcing quality olive oil 

I believe that quality ingredients play an important part in creating a great tasting meal. And olive oil is a key ingredient in a lot of Mediterranean cooking.

Surprisingly there is a lot of fraud in most olive oils on the market. And sadly it isn’t always easy to spot.

When I purchase olive oil, I try to always purchase an oil approved by the COOC (California Olive Oil Council). This is because they have very strict testing standards and I can be sure that I’m buy an authentic olive oil.

Other authentic olive oil seals:

ingredients for the spaghetti in bowls and cutting board


This traditional inspired pasta dish from Naples is a long loved favorite because of the simplicity in cooking. This classic recipe is sure to become a family favorite!

some tips for preparing for making this recipe

  1. This recipe comes to gather incredibly fast, I would recommend prepping all ingredients before starting. Begin by chopping the herbs and garlic and setting them aside.
  2. The sauce of this pasta dish is comprised primarily of olive oil. And it takes less time to make than it does to cook the pasta.

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

fresh herbs and garlic chopped in a bowl

To a large pot of water, boil & cook the pasta according to package instructions. Make sure to salt the pasta water – this is super important when cooking pasta because it helps to properly season the pasta.

The pasta should be cooked to al dente, not over cooked and mushy. Usually this would be about 8-10 minutes or so. Test the pasta towards the end to make sure it doesn’t cook too long.

Heat up the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and heat until fragrant but not toasted. You’ll want it to be soft and slightly light brown.

skillet of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes
spaghetti in a large skillet with fresh herbs on top
spaghetti in pan with herbs and grated cheese

Be careful not to burn the garlic! This will make it bitter.

Add the crushed red pepper flakes and gently stir. Then, add the pasta and pasta water.

Next add in the parmesan or pecorino cheese, herbs, and mix well.

Remove pasta from sauté pan and serve immediately over a platter or a large serving bowl.

white plates with Spaghetti Aglio e oilio

Notes: I don’t drain my pasta water, but will scoop the pasta and add it directly to the garlic & pepper oil. This carries some of the pasta water with it. If you prefer to drain your water completely, make sure that you reserve a bit of the liquid from the pasta water to make the sauce stick to the pasta.

large bowl of pasta with plates and forks behind them

How to store leftovers

Generally, I don’t recommend storing leftover pasta as they don’t always store well. However, if you have leftovers that you would like to save, be sure to store in an airtight container for just a few days in the refrigerator.

FAQ (frequently asked questions)

Is spaghetti aglio e olio healthy?

Compared to other pasta dishes, this one is much lighter! It uses fresh herbs and lots of garlic, and quality olive oil which has good heart health benefits.

What does aglio olio taste like?

Pasta aglio olio tastes like olive oil and garlic, with a bit of fresh herbs and parmesan cheese.

want more recipes?

Check out the recipe index where you can discover more homemade recipes from my homestead!

two white bowls of pasta with a small bowl of freshly grated parmesan cheese and two black forks resting to the side

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio – Pasta with Garlic, Olive Oil, and Fresh Herbs

This pasta recipe for spaghetti aglio e olio with olive oil and garlic, paired fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and mint is sure to become a favorite! Add in freshly grated parmesan cheese and a bit of crushed red pepper to give it a little kick.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author Mary Woita
Servings 6
Calories: 414kcal



  • Start by boiling your water for your spaghetti. Follow the package instructions, cooking the pasta to al dente. Be sure to salt the pasta water!
  • While the pasta is cooking, begin to chop up the garlic and all of the herbs.
  • When the pasta is nearly finished cooking, with approximately 2-3 minutes left, start to heat the oil on medium heat.
  • Add the garlic to the oil and cook until it is fragrant or until just before it is toasted. Be careful not to over cook or burn the garlic which will make it bitter.
  • Next, add the red pepper flakes to the oil and give it a quick stir.
    Add the pasta noodles to the garlic oil. I just use a pasta ladle and add directly to my saute pan with the garlic oil. This helps carry over some of the pasta water too which is needed for the oil to help stick to the noodles.
  • If you want to drain your pasta instead, be sure to reserve about 2 tablespoons of pasta water and add it in with the garlic oil "sauce".
  • Add the herbs, pinch of salt, and parmesan or pecorino cheese to the pasta and garlic oil, give it a good toss to mix together.
  • Remove the pasta from the saute pan and add to a platter or large bowl.
  • Add additional cheese on top if desired.
  • Serve & enjoy!


Serve pasta immediately after cooking.

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