Garlic lovers and pasta lovers rejoice! Your recipe has arrived. This aglio olio e peperoncino pairs pasta with garlic cooked until just golden, rich olive oil, fresh basil, and spicy red peppers.
Why You'll Love Aglio Olio e Peperoncino Recipe
If you love spicy food like I do, this spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino is for you.
This classic pasta dish comes together in under 20 minutes with simple ingredients. It's an easy dish fantastic for a weeknight when you're tired or a weekend when you want to treat yourself and your loved ones with minimal effort.
Plus, It's adaptable. Don't have Calabrian chilis on hand? No problem. Use a big pinch of red chili flakes instead. Don't have spaghetti? Use the pasta shape of your choice.
I have been eating variations of this dish my whole life. I think it likely fostered some of my earliest love for garlic (a love that has only grown with time).
I hope my dish brings you those same fond feelings of garlicky, pasta-y comfort.
If you love this dish, be sure to try this wonderful black garlic pasta from our friends at Vanilla Bean Cuisine, too!
What You'll Need
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- Dry Pasta I used spaghetti here, which was great. A linguine, bucatini, fettuccine or even a capellini would work in its place.
- Fresh Garlic I really recommend using fresh garlic that you peel and slice yourself as opposed to anything from a jar. A few fragrant, large garlic cloves are best.
- Olive Oil The highest quality extra virgin olive oil that works within your budget is perfect for this dish. The taste of olive oil will be prevalent and you will definitely taste the difference. However, if something super high quality is not in the cards, this will by all means still be an incredibly delicious dish.
- Calabrian Chili Peppers You can generally find jars of these in the ethnic foods aisle of your local grocery store. You can also purchase them online here. If you cannot find them, try hot cherry peppers, 1 teaspoon jarred crushed red pepper chili flakes, or fresh hot peppers like Fresno chilis in their place.
- Fresh Basil If you can't find any good, fresh basil, I would omit it rather than use dried basil.
- Kosher Salt Kosher salt is my preferred salt for all of my savory cooking. It's less salty per teaspoon than sea salt or table salt, making it easier to season properly and harder to oversalt your dish. This 3-pack lasts me a very long time.
- Parmesan Cheese if desired. You can also use some pecorino cheese if you'd like. I think it's quite delicious with or without the cheese.
How to Make Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
Step One: Bring a large pot of water with a generous pinch of salt to a boil. Cook your spaghetti to al dente. Meanwhile, place two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pan. Once just shimmering, add the garlic, chilis, and a pinch of salt.
While the pasta is cooking, keep an eye on the garlic and chilis, stirring occasionally. The garlic is ready when it is softened and light golden brown but not crisp or burned.
Step Two: When the pasta is cooked, add about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan with the garlic, oil, and chilis. Drain the pasta.
Step Three: Stir the sauce to emulsify. Add in the drained pasta and remaining olive oil and continue to stir.
Step Four: Add the basil and give everything a nice toss, ensuring the pasta is coated evenly with the sauce.
Step Five: Plate the pasta. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese and more fresh basil if desired.
Different Pasta You can try different varieties of pasta here: linguine, fettuccine, bucatini, even capellini. Just follow the package directions and test for doneness about 1 minute before the lesser time on the box.
Fresh Herb You can add a bit of fresh parsley in addition to or in place of the basil. I would use less parsley if replacing the basil completely.
Classic Recipe Remove the Calabrian chilis altogether if you would like a classic spaghetti aglio e olio.
Different Peppers If you can't find Calabrian chilis, use crushed red pepper flake, hot cherry peppers, or snipped Fresno chilis instead.
Get creative and add a protein of your choosing. I like my Italian Chicken Cutlets with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Aglio e olio means garlic and oil. Peperoncino means chili pepper. This is a riff on a traditional pasta with garlic cooked in olive oil with spicy red chili peppers.
Yes. The chili peppers add some spice to this dish. If you would prefer to eat the dish without this element, forego the peppers and just use pasta, garlic, oil, and pasta water.
I would not suggest making this in advance. It will be fine for leftovers if you don't mind reheated pasta, but the beauty of this dish is in the emulsified sauce and al dente pasta.
- Make chili oil. Try adding a little bit of the Calabrian chili oil to your olive oil for a beautiful red color and a little added spice.
- Cook your pasta to al dente. Be sure to cook your pasta al dente. To do this, I recommend cooking in salted, boiling water for one minute less than the box directions.
- Emulsify your sauce. Emulsifying the olive oil and pasta water is what creates a beautiful, rich sauce. This cooking technique means adding two ingredients that don't normally mix easily - typically, a fat and a liquid, together to create an emulsification. Don't forget to add that pasta water and stir well!
- Thinly sliced garlic is best. Slice your garlic very thin for the best results. It will impart a lot of flavor into the olive oil.
How to Store
Fridge This pasta is best eaten right when it is finished cooking for a glossy, emulsified sauce and the best texture of spaghetti. However, cooked pasta will store for 3 to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Freezer I would not recommend freezing this pasta. It comes together so quickly that I would just make it when ready to eat.
Tip: If you think you would like to make more or less of the recipe, be sure to use the serving size tool in the recipe card below. Simply click on the number next to "Servings" and you will be able to adjust up or down based on your preference.
How to Pair
If you feel like going for an even more impressive dinner, try some of these combinations:
Chicken Add Italian Chicken Cutlets and a squeeze of fresh lemon to the pasta and serve with a simple side salad for the perfect dinner.
Shrimp Simply grill or sauté shrimp for a simple and satisfying dinner.
Multi-Course Meal Try having a multi-course meal at home, with Aglio Olio e Peperoncino as your pasta course, followed by a light seafood entrée like shrimp or fish with some Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine.
Stir-Fry Want something less conventional? Try these garlicky noodles as the base of a stir-fry, like this delicious Zucchini Stir-Fry.
Bread Bread is a classic pairing with pasta. Try this delicious gluten free foccacia bread or this Korean garlic bread! Looking for something more traditional? A hunk of crusty baguette is always fantastic.
More Italian Recipes You'll Love
- Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce
- Slow Cooker Lamb Ragu
- Penne al Baffo
- Hearty Marinara Sauce
- Spaghetti Arrabbiata
- Linguine Bolognese
- Penne al Salmone
- Individual Lasagna
Pasta Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While the water is coming to a boil, thinly slice the garlic, chop the Calabrian chilis and chiffonade (slice into thin strips) or tear the basil by hand.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Once just shimmering, add the garlic, chilis, and a pinch of salt. If using red pepper flake instead of Calabrian chilis, add it at this stage.
- Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the box instructions (about 9 minutes is using spaghetti).
- While the pasta is cooking, keep an eye on the garlic and chilis, stirring occasionally. The garlic is ready when it is softened and light golden brown but not crisp or burned.
- When the pasta is cooked, add about ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan with the garlic, oil, and chilis. Stir to emulsify. Add in the pasta and remaining olive oil and continue to stir.
- Add the basil and stir together, ensuring the pasta is coated evenly with the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
- Plate the pasta. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese and more fresh basil if desired.
- Estimated calories are for one 2-ounce portion.
- You can use hot cherry peppers in place of the Calabrian chilis in an equal amount, or use 1 teaspoon of chili flake.
- Feel free to adjust the serving size up or down by selecting the number next to "Servings" in the recipe card.
- Cooked pasta will last in the fridge for 3-5 days, but I recommend eating as soon as it is prepared.
- I do not recommend freezing this dish.