Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil

Pasta with Garlic and Oil is a classic Italian dish – also known as spaghetti aglio e olio. The best part about this recipe is not its a.k.a. status, but its simplicity. You only need three ingredients to get started, and you probably already have all three in your pantry.

The base ingredients are garlic, olive oil and pasta. From there, some common and simple flavor additions are:

  • Red pepper flake
  • Shallot
  • Parmesan cheese

I went with red pepper flake and shallot because I had both on hand in my pantry. Once you have a handle on making this classic pasta base, you can make it your own by adding different ingredient combinations to the pasta such as:

  • Spinach + turkey sausage
  • Broccoli + chicken
  • Zucchini + goat cheese
  • Mushroom + steak

The options go on and on.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil Ingredients

There are a couple things to note when making this pasta. For one, the best pasta to use is spaghetti; angel hair will work too. If you don’t know how much pasta to make, I usually go for about a “quarter size” worth. Meaning, if you bunch together the pasta in your hand, it will be the same size in diameter as a quarter. I have heard this makes about 2 oz, but to be honest, I always overshoot this and end up making what I think is about 3-4 oz. For this recipe, we need about 4 oz.

Also, make sure to salt the water before adding you pasta. As Frankie says in this video, it should taste like the ocean.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil Gif

Pasta with Garlic and Oil Cooking

The spiral looks cool, sure, but try to work the pasta into the water so that it all cooks evenly. While the pasta is cooking you can start with your simple olive oil “sauce.” Add your olive oil to a separate pan with garlic and any other ingredients you are using. For me, it was the shallots and red pepper flake. If you are using vegetables and protein, you shouldn’t add them just yet, only add the ingredients to flavor the oil. You should add anything else fully cooked when you add the pasta.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil Gif Simmer

Let that simmer until the garlic changes color but do not let it burn. Burnt garlic is the worst.

When the pasta is done and the olive oil is flavored, add your pasta, and be sure to get some of the pasta water into the pan too.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil Pan

Once incorporated, simply plate and enjoy. Basil is also a nice touch if you can swing it.

Pasta with Garlic and Oil Side Close

Let’s get economical with this pasta with garlic and oil:

  • 4 oz of pasta – $1.00
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – $0.47
  • 1 clove garlic – $0.10

The grand total is $1.57. This would run you $10+ at a nice Italian restaurant. Master it at home and you can make it for a tiny fraction of that price.

Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil
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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Author: Economical Chef

Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil

This Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil is a classic that is perfect by itself or as the base to other recipes and dishes.


    Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil Ingredients:
  • 4 oz of pasta
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 small shallot
  • Pinch of red pepper flake
  • Sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  • Anything else you want in your pasta!


  1. Bring salted pasta water to boil
  2. Add your pasta to the water and cook for 2 minutes less than the package designates
  3. While the pasta is cooking, add your olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat
  4. Finely chop your garlic (and shallot if you are using it)
  5. Add your garlic and other optional ingredients (shallot, red pepper) to the oil and cook until the garlic turns light brown (a few minutes)
  6. Remove your oil and ingredients from the heat until the pasta is done cooking
  7. Add your cooked pasta to the frying pan with 1 tbsp of pasta water
  8. Mix together for a couple minutes. Add your parmesan cheese and other pasta add-ins at this time if you wish.
  9. Plate and enjoy!
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I hope you enjoy this Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil!

2 thoughts on “Simple Pasta with Garlic and Oil”

  1. This is one of my favorite go-to weeknight meals. I do it with nearly any pasta shape. My typical base ingredients are olive oil, raw garlic (minced), red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, and parmesan. I love it just like that, but I’ll throw in whatever leftovers I have – chicken, bacon, any kind of veggies. Because none of the ingredients are cooked (aside from the pasta), I make single servings right in the bowl.


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