This quick and easy garlic butter pasta recipe is proof that simple doesn’t have to mean bland. Made in just 15 minutes, this flavor-packed pasta is perfect for an easy weeknight meal!
When I need an effortless dinner that I know my whole family is going to love, this is the one I go to. This delicious garlic butter pasta with a simple sauce is easy to make, comes together in under 20 minutes, and never disappoints.
It’s made with just a handful of simple ingredients, but it’s also easily customizable as well. Serve this pasta dish as a side with crispy chicken cutlets or seared scallops, or as a main dish with grilled broccolini or creamy tomato soup.
And don’t forget the warm, delicious cheesy garlic bread. Never forget the garlic bread!
❤️ Why you'll love this easy pasta dish
- It’s an easy recipe, made in just 15 minutes, so it's perfect for a quick dinner.
- This dish works as a full meal or a delicious side dish.
- It only requires a few simple fresh ingredients, but it packs a big flavor!
- It’s quickly and easily customizable to suit all tastes.
🧄 Ingredient notes
You only need a handful of basic ingredients to make this delicious pasta dish. But I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t say that with simple dishes like this, using quality, fresh ingredients really makes a difference in the flavor of the end result.
- Pasta - Angel hair pasta cooks quickly, so keep an eye on it and don’t let it overcook. It’s a light sauce, so a delicate pasta like angel hair works best. In a pinch, spaghetti or linguine work as alternatives.
- Butter - Salted butter works best to give a good, creamy flavor to this simple garlic butter sauce. Extra salt will be needed if unsalted butter is used.
- Garlic - I highly recommend using fresh garlic instead of pre-chopped in the jar. The garlic flavor comes through best when using fresh garlic. Mince the fresh garlic finely or use a press for a less aggressive garlic taste.
- Cheese - Do yourself a favor and use the freshly grated cheese. Parmigiano-Reggiano is an Italian cheese that compliments the flavorful garlic butter sauce. Regular parmesan cheese can also be grated on top.
📋 Substitutions And Variations
- More Cheese - Add ½-1 cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese to the sauce instead of using it only as a garnish.
- Lemon - Add the grated zest of one lemon to the sauce for an extra fresh flavor.
- Spicy - Cook the garlic with a large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Extras - Toss this quick pasta dish with shrimp, grilled chicken, or roasted veggies for a heartier meal.
- Dairy-Free - Use a dairy-free butter alternative.
- Gluten-Free - Use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
🔪 Step By Step Instructions
Cook the angel hair pasta according to the package instructions in boiling salted water.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat, then add the garlic, salt, and pepper to the butter and cook until the garlic is fragrant and just lightly browned.
Reserve a half cup of the cooking liquid and drain the remaining water from the pasta.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the garlic butter sauce and toss to combine well. Stir in the reserved pasta water, a little bit at a time until a silky sauce is achieved.
Serve the pasta immediately, topped with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and freshly chopped parsley.
If you ever don't recognize a tool or skill that is mentioned, be sure to look it up in our Glossary of Cooking Terms and Definitions for more information.
⭐ Expert Tips
- Cook pasta to al dente in boiling salted water for the best flavor and texture to the finished dish.
- Garlic burns easily, keep a close eye on it and reduce the heat if necessary.
- Add only enough pasta water to make a creamy sauce. It’s possible you may not need all the reserved pasta water, so add it in slowly so the dish isn't watery.
- Plan to use 1-2 ounces of dry pasta per person as a side dish and 2-3 ounces per person for a main dish.
- A delicate pasta is best for this light sauce. Use linguine or spaghetti as an alternative, if needed.
🥡 Storage Suggestions
Store leftover garlic butter pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat with a little extra butter.
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
While most fresh pasta does contain egg, most dry pasta does not. Most dried pasta is just made from semolina flour and water. There are a few exceptions that contain egg. If you are allergic, read package ingredients carefully.
Al dente is a way of cooking pasta so it’s still just a little firm in the middle instead of soft all the way through. This gives the pasta a better texture and helps absorb sauces better. The term means “to the tooth” and implies you can feel the firmness of the pasta when you bite it.
When pasta is slightly firm, it has a longer digestion time. Slower digestion means a lower spike in blood sugars, less of a bloated feeling, and is generally considered a healthier digestion all around.
🍝 More easy pasta recipes
If you loved this quick and easy garlic butter pasta recipe, check out these other easy pasta recipes that I know you’re sure to love too!
Quick and Easy Garlic Butter Pasta Recipe
- 12 ounces angel hair pasta
- 5 ounces salted butter
- 6 cloves fresh garlic minced finely or pressed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus extra for cooking pasta
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated for serving
- fresh parsley chopped finely for serving
- Cook the angel hair pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions until the pasta is cooked al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium low heat.
- Add in the minced garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and just lightly browned. Remove off of the heat so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid and then drain the remaining water from the pasta.
- Add the drained pasta to the skillet with the garlic butter sauce and toss to combine.
- Stir in the reserved pasta water, a little bit at a time until a creamy sauce is achieved. All of the water may or may not be used.
- Serve the pasta immediately, topped with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and fresh chopped parsley.
- Serving - Plan for 1-2 ounces of dried pasta per serving for a side dish or 2-3 ounces per serving for a main dish.
- Pasta - A delicate pasta is best for this light sauce. Linguine or spaghetti can be used as an alternative, if needed.
- Cheesy - For a more cheesy sauce, toss ½-1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano into the sauce instead of using it as a garnish.
- Lemon - Add the zest of a lemon into the sauce for a fresh lemony flavor.
- Dairy-Free - Use a dairy-free butter alternative.
- Gluten-Free - Use gluten-free pasta.
- Leftovers - Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat with extra butter.