Linguine Aglio e Olio, aka garlic and oil, is one of the simplest of all Italian pastas, containing only garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, pasta, and pasta water. But don't let the simplicity fool you - this is a comforting dish that is full of flavor and can be on the table in the time it takes you to boil the pasta.
Aglio e Olio literally translates to "garlic and oil" in Italian and truly, you need not much more to make this dish.
Red chili flakes and fresh parsley help complete this dish, along with a healthy dose of pasta water, but the garlic and the oil are the true stars.
It is beloved by many Italian-Americans and is super easy on your wallet.
In fact, this dish costs less than $6 to make and can easily feed a family of four.
Linguine aglio e olio: my weeknight savior
It's a Wednesday, hump day, if you will, and we still have a few days to go until the weekend.
By the middle of the week, I'm usually ready to just make something simple and call it a day!
Linguine Aglio e Olio, aka Linguine with garlic and oil, is almost always the answer to "I'm not in the mood to cook, I don't want to order food - what should I make?".
This may just be the King, or Queen, of easy weeknight meals dating back to my childhood! Since I was a kid, I remember my grandma or my mom making this dish at least once per week. It never disappointed.
Some of my other easy weeknight go-to dishes include rigatoni alla gricia, chicken with tomatoes and capers, and pasta con broccoli.
In fact, pasta con broccoli is pretty much aglio e olio plus broccoli, so if you can make one, you can make both!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Fill a pot with cold water and put it on the stove to boil. While you're waiting for the water to boil, slice or mince the garlic, depending on your preference.
- Run your knife through the fresh parsley and give it a good mince.
- Once the water is boiling, add salt (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water). Then, add your pasta and give it a mix for 30 seconds to help prevent sticking.
- Begin to saute the garlic in olive oil until lightly golden.
- Once the garlic is golden, add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add a ladle of your pasta water to the pan, forming a sauce. Be sure to reserve extra pasta water as you may need more at the end.
- Once your pasta is al dente, remove from the water and add to the pan with the garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Begin to mix it around to help emulsify and thicken the sauce. If you feel comfortable flipping the pasta, do it now. This will help emulsify the sauce.
- Remove pan from the heat and add your parsley, topping with additional extra virgin olive oil. Taste test and add salt to taste. If you like, serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or Pecorino Romano.
Since I make this pretty frequently, sometimes I change it up to keep things exciting. Some of my favorites are:
- Anchovies - to add some umami flavor to this dish, add either a squeeze of anchovy paste, or a filet or two (mash with the back of knife) of canned anchovies to the garlic when you are sauteeing.
- Lemon - I love adding lemon to linguine aglio e olio as it adds another dimension. Use the juice and the zest!
- Olives - Occasionally, I will toss a few olives into this Italian classic. I love the saltiness of olives and they really help enhance the dish.
What type of oil for aglio e olio?
Since the ingredients in this dish are minimal, it's important to use the best quality ingredients that are available to you.
For aglio e olio, I like to use extra virgin olive oil.
Another more economical option would be to use regular olive oil for sauteing the garlic, and then finish the dish with the extra virgin. I prepared it on YouTube in this manner.
I would advise against using any other oil for this dish.
The flavor in the olive oil is an important, and irreplaceable, component.
More easy pasta recipes
- 15 minute marinara sauce - Easy quick sauce with garlic and basil.
- Spicy pepper bucatini - Spicy pepper sauce with anchovy and Pecorino.
- Fettuccine alfredo - Super easy creamy Parmigiano Reggiano cheese sauce.
- Spinach sun dried tomato angel hair - Flavorful dish with white wine, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and basil.
- Roasted cherry tomato pasta - Roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes tossed with linguine.
- Linguine al limone - Similar to alfredo but with the addition of lemon.
- Pasta with celery - Crispy celery with lemon, parsley, and virgin olive oil.
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- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound linguine
- ¼ cup fresh parsley minced
- 1 ½ cups pasta water reserve a lot just in case
- Cook Linguine to al dente in salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon) boiling water. Reserve pasta water.
- Heat a large pan to medium-low and saute the garlic in a ¼ cup olive oil until lightly golden. Once the garlic turns godlen (about 2 minutes) add in the red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add in 1 ladle of pasta water to the garlic and oil. Turn heat to medium.
- Add in the linguine and toss to coat. Stir quickly to emulsify the pasta water and oil. Flip the pasta if you feel comfortable to increase emulsification. Cook until the pasta is just done (around 1 minute) then remove the pan from the heat.
- Taste test the pasta and add salt to taste. Add a big drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and all the parsley to the pan. Toss once more. If the pasta is at all dry add a couple ounces at a time of the reserved pasta water to get the consistency just right. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days.
- Salt to taste right before serving.
- Use high-quality extra virgin olive oil, at least to finish, but preferably for sauteing the garlic as well.
- Always reserve pasta water. If the pasta dries out before serving, just add a few ounces of the pasta water to bring the consistency back to perfect.
Everyone of your recipes brings me back to my grandmothers cooking….DELICIOUS! Thank you for paying attention and getting these recipes and your kindness sharing.
I look forward to what you are going to make next. Thank you
P.s everyone of your dishes is 5 starts
Hi Andrea. I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying all of the recipes. Just so you know, I post two new recipes each week here on this website along with a new YouTube video on Fridays. Thanks for the comment!
So good. I feel like I’ve gone back in time. I’ve made many of your recipes.
Everything comes out perfect.
My husband is not Italian, but I can tell you he is loving these recipes. He has no idea, I’m serving my childhood meals. I am so pleased I found this web site.
Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your love for Italian cuisine. Ciao
Hi Jacqueline, thank you so much for your kind words. The thing I love about food and cooking is that it can transport us to different places and times which is pretty incredible. I'm so happy you and your husband are enjoying the recipes!
Love this dish, simple and a pleasure to make and serve with pecorino Romano cheese.
Hi John, thanks for the comment!
I sometimes make this by first cooking broccoli florets for 3 minutes and then removing them from the boiling water. Then adding the pasta to the water. Also,adding sauteed shrimp to the final dish makes a great addition. Usually use orrechiette for the pasta.
Thanks for the comment, Joe! Your additions sound great!
This is a perfect example of Italian cuisine. The simplicity.
Thank you, Chef Mimi!
I so enjoy watching you, you are soft spoken and explain your recipes from beginning to end taking your time. I have made many of recipes and have never been disappointed! Thank you Jim! Bon apetit!
Thank you, Bev! I'm happy you're enjoying the recipes!
Ed in DE
A great, fast, and uncomplicated recipe after a long day!
Hi Ed, thanks for the comment. Agree, this one is great after a long day!
I made this for dinner last night but I add Parmesan cheese to the finished dish
Top this with some shrimp pan seared in butter and seasoned with basil leaves for true Heaven!
Thanks for the comment, yes shrimp is a great addition to this one!
OMG. A perfect Tuesday night dinner. So delicious and easy to pull together. I had everything in my fridge. I love your recipes. This will be a perfect addition to my easy pease meals. Elegant yet easy. I even took a picture.
Hi Lee, thanks for the comment! We love this one for weeknights and so happy you do as well!
This is a family favorite that I totally forgot about. Thank you for bringing it back into my rotation. Love, love, love your videos. We now eat at least one of you recipes a week.
Hi Denise, thanks fo the review and comment and so happy you're enjoying the videos and making the recipes!
Memories of Friday night meals, sometimes with shrimp, always with pizza. My non Italian friends love this meal! Thanks Jim
Thanks for the comment, Geri! So happy you enjoyed!