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Aglio e Olio combines pasta, fresh garlic, and extra virgin olive oil into one amazingly flavorful dish!

Aglio e Olio

Aglio e Olio is the ultimate pantry recipe! Just a few ingredients come together in a delicious dish that can be served as a simple main course or as a side dish.

What is Aglio e Olio?

Aglio e Olio translates from Italian to garlic and olive oil.  It’s a classic Italian dish from Naples – with many variations depending on the ingredients added to the recipe.

Technically – what you see here in our photos is Vermicelli Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino.

  • We made our Aglio e Olio with vermicelli (because it’s what we had on hand) – but any strand-like pasta will work such as spaghetti, linguine or fettucini.
  • We also added crushed red pepper flakes (pepperoncino in Italian) – which gives a gentle heat to the dish.


Aglio e Olio

We also added grated Parmesan cheese and chopped, fresh parsley to the dish when serving. Some Italians would frown on the addition of cheese – because it does mute the garlic flavor a bit – so the choice is yours.

Additionally, I’ve seen some Aglio e Olio recipes served with crushed bread crumbs on top. That would be delicious too – but we prefer serving this simple dish with some garlic bread on the side so the pasta doesn’t get overly dry.

A few tips when making Aglio e Olio

When cooking pasta, bring the water in your pot to a boil first – then add the salt. In some cases, adding the salt to the water before it boils will pit the bottom of the pan, ruining the cooking surface.

Choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe. The olive oil is the basis for your sauce – so go with the most flavorful you can find.

Make sure to sauté your garlic over no hotter than medium heat. This will allow the garlic to brown and soften without scorching and burning (which can give the garlic a bitter taste).

Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta. The cooking water can be added back to the pasta if it seems too dry once the dish is prepared.

Cook just enough Aglio e Olio as you’ll eat in one sitting. While you can reheat leftovers, it isn’t quite the same as freshly cooked because the olive oil separates from the pasta. If you do plan to reheat leftovers, save that reserved pasta water – then reheat your Aglio e Olio in a pan on the stove, adding some of the pasta water to bring the ingredients back together.


Aglio e Olio

Serve Aglio e Olio with:

You may like these other easy pasta dishes:

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Aglio e Olio

Aglio e Olio

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: main dish, side dish, pasta
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


Salt, for cooking the pasta and for seasoning

1 pound vermicelli (or spaghetti, linguine, fettucine, etc)

½ cup quality extra virgin olive oil

46 cloves of garlic, chopped

Optional (we used all of these in our recipe):

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed

Parmesan cheese, grated

Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt to the water, then add vermicelli to the boiling water. Cook until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

While the pasta cooks, add olive oil, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes (if desired) to a large sauté pan that is large enough to hold all of the cooked pasta once it is added.

Cook the garlic and oil mixture over medium heat until the garlic starts to turn golden – being careful not to let it burn. Transfer drained pasta to the sauté pan and toss to coat. Taste and add more salt if needed. If the past seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley on top, then serve immediately.

Keywords: Aglio e Olio, Italian Aglio e Olio, garlic and olive oil sauce


Aglio e OlioAglio e Olio

Aglio e Olio

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  • Doris wrote:

    Hi Martha! I did see your message back to me regarding the tomato sauce. I gotta tell you, this was and is the favorite dish my ex-husband made at home all the time. I would chop up the garlic ( copious cloves no doubt) and he would make the sauce but we would steam some fresh broccoli and lay over the top with tons of grated parm or locatelli. I think vermicelli and linguini are the best personally. How I love this dish!!!! And of course, your recipes. Italian peasant food at its finest. Have a wonderful day!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Doris! This recipe must be right your alley – feel free to add as much garlic as you’d like! 🙂

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