Quick & Flavorful Spicy Garlic Spaghetti Recipe with Make-Ahead Tips

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine twirling your fork in a bowl of steaming, spicy garlic spaghetti, each bite a perfect harmony of heat and flavor. This dish, a fiery twist on the classic spaghetti aglio e olio, has its roots in the simplicity of Italian cooking, amplified by a bold use of garlic and chili. It’s a favorite for anyone who loves a little extra kick with their pasta.

Whether you’re looking to spice up your weeknight dinner routine or impress guests at your next gathering, spicy garlic spaghetti promises a quick, flavorful meal with just a handful of ingredients. It’s all about turning the ordinary into the extraordinary with minimal effort and maximum taste. Get ready to unleash the power of garlic and chili in your kitchen with this simple yet delicious recipe.


Gather these simple yet impactful ingredients to bring the vibrant flavors of this spicy garlic spaghetti to life.

  • 12 ounces of spaghetti
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, adjust based on your heat preference
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Necessary Tools and Equipment

Preparing this delectable spicy garlic spaghetti requires just a handful of kitchen tools. To create the dish with ease and ensure a smooth cooking experience, gather the following tools before you begin:

  • Large Pot: You’ll need a large pot to boil the spaghetti. Ensure it’s big enough to comfortably contain the pasta without spilling over.
  • Skillet or Frying Pan: A large skillet or frying pan is essential for sautéing the garlic and red chili flakes. Choose one with a heavy bottom for even heat distribution.
  • Colander: A colander is necessary to drain the cooked spaghetti. Opt for one with fine mesh if available, to prevent the pasta from slipping through.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: Use a wooden spoon or a heat-resistant spatula for stirring the pasta while mixing with the sauce to avoid sticking.
  • Microplane or Fine Grater: This is useful for zesting the lemon to add a fresh, zesty kick to the pasta.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements of ingredients like olive oil, salt, and red chili flakes are key to balancing flavors perfectly.
  • Garlic Press (Optional): While not mandatory, a garlic to make mincing faster and to distribute the garlic more evenly throughout the dish.

Collecting these tools before you start cooking will streamline your process and help maintain the pace, making your cooking experience enjoyable and hassle-free.

Prep Work

Before you start cooking, doing some initial preparation will make the process smoother and faster. Let’s get everything ready.

Chopping Garlic and Herbs

Begin by peeling and finely chopping eight large cloves of garlic. The finer the chop, the more garlicky flavor will infuse into the oil. Next, if you’re adding parsley for a fresh, herby finish, chop about one quarter cup of fresh parsley leaves. Ensure these are well rinsed and patted dry before chopping to avoid any moisture splattering when added to the hot oil.

Preparing the Pasta Water

Fill a large pot with water, about 4 to 6 quarts, and set it on high heat to bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water; this is crucial as it seasons the pasta internally as it cooks. A good rule of thumb is to add about one tablespoon of salt for every gallon of water. This salting ensures your spaghetti absorbs flavor right from the start, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you have all your ingredients and equipment ready, let’s dive into the actual cooking process. Follow these steps to bring your spicy garlic spaghetti to life.

Cooking the Spaghetti

  1. Fill a large pot with water, add a generous pinch of salt, and bring it to a boil over high heat. The salt not only seasons the pasta but also enhances its texture.
  2. Submerge 12 ounces of spaghetti in the boiling water. Stir occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
  3. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions, usually about 8-10 minutes, until al dente. This means the pasta should be tender yet still firm to the bite.
  4. Once cooked, reserve about one cup of pasta water for adjusting the sauce later, then drain the spaghetti using a colander.

Combining the Pasta with Sauce

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add 6 minced cloves of garlic and 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes to the oil. Sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
  3. Carefully pour the reserved pasta water into the skillet. This will help deglue the pan and incorporate all the flavors.
  4. Add the drained spaghetti directly into the skillet. Toss vigorously to coat the spaghetti evenly with the spicy garlic sauce.
  5. Continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes, allowing the pasta to absorb the flavors. If the spaghetti seems too dry, gradually add more pasta water until the desired consistency is achieved.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the zest of one lemon to add a fresh, zesty finish to your dish.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.

Assembling the Spicy Garlic Spaghetti

Now that your spaghetti is perfectly cooked to al denté and your spicy garlic sauce is fragrant and simmering, it’s time to bring all the elements together for the final dish.

Combine Spaghetti and Sauce

First, use tongs to transfer your spaghetti directly from the pot of boiling water to the pan with the garlic sauce. The clinging water droplets add necessary moisture to help the sauce cling to the pasta. Gently stir to ensure each strand of spaghetti is evenly coated with the glistening, spicy garlic oil.

Adjust the Consistency

If the sauce seems too thick or the pasta isn’t fully coated, gradually add in small amounts of reserved pasta water. Start with a quarter cup, stirring constantly, and add more if needed. The starchy pasta water works magic, helping to create a silky, emulsively bound sauce that hugs every noodle.

Add the Final Touches

Once your spaghetti is tossed and glossy with sauce, it’s time to finish off with a sprinkle of freshly grated lemon zest and a generous bash of freshly ground black pepper. The lemon zest adds a burst of citrus that cuts through the richness, while the pepper introduces a subtle warmth that compleats the flavors.

Give everything a final toss to distribute the zest and pepper evenly. Taste it and adjust your seasoning—if it needs a pinch more salt or an extra kick of chili flakes, now is the moment to add them.

Serve Immediately

Serve your spicy garlic spaghetti hot off the stove. The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity and immediacy. Plate it up in warm bowls, garnish with fresh chopped parsley or basil if you like, and perhaps a few shavings of Parmesan or Pecorino cheese for an extra layer of flavor and luxury.

Following these steps, you ensure a dish that’s vibrant with flavor and beautifully balanced—truly a delight for anyone who craves a touch of spice paired with the comforting goodness of classic spaghetti.

Optional Garnishes

After tossing your spicy garlic spaghetti in the vibrant sauce, consider adding a few optional garnishes to enhance the flavors and textures of your dish. Here are some suggestions that beautifully complement the boldness of garlic and chili:

  • Freshly Grated Parmesan: Sprinkle a generous amount of Parmesan cheese over your hot spaghetti. The saltiness and creaminess of the cheese will balance the heat from the chili flakes.
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley: Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley for a pop of color and a burst of freshness. Parsley also helps in cutting through the richness of the dish.
  • Toasted Breadcrumbs: For an added crunch, sprinkle some toasted breadcrumbs on top of your spaghetti. Simply toast them in a dry skillet until golden brown.
  • A Drizzle of Truffle Oil: If you’re feeling indulgent, a light drizzle of truffle oil before serving can elevate the dish with an earthy flavor.
  • Crushed Red Pepper: For those who adore more heat, a little extra sprinkle of crushed red pepper can intensify the spiciness.

Each of these garnishes provides a unique dimension that complements the main flavors of your spicy garlic spaghetti. Feel free to mix and match according to your preference, and enjoy customizing your dish to suit your palate.

Make-Ahead Instructions

To ensure a smooth cooking experience with your spicy garlic spaghetti, it’s helpful to prepare some components ahead of time. This way, you can whip up a flavorful dish even on a busy weeknight.

Prepare Garlic and Chili Mixture

  1. Chop the Garlic: Finely chop about 6 cloves of garlic. The finer the chop, the more infused your oil will be with garlic flavor.
  2. Measure Chili Flaceks: Take 2 teaspoons of chili flakes. This amount adjusts depending on how spicy you like your dishes.
  3. Store: Combine the chopped garlic and chili flakes in a small airtight container. They will keep in your refrigerator for up to three days.

Lemon Zest

  1. Zest the Lemon: Using a zester or a fine grater, zest the outer skin of one lemon. Avoid the white pith as it’s bitter.
  2. Storage: Place the lemon zest in a separate airtight container. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Cooking the Spaghetti

  1. Pre-cook Spaghetti: Cook your spaghetti al dente according to package instructions, usually about 1 minute less than stated. This ensures they don’t become too soft when you sauté them later.
  2. Cool and Store: After draining, rinse the spaghetti under cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss them with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.


  • Quick Assembly: When ready to cook, simply sauté the pre-prepared garlic and chili mixture in olive oil until the garlic turns lightly golden. Then, add your pre-cooked spaghetti. Heat through and finish with the lemon zest and your choice of garnishes.
  • Refreshing the Ingredients: If the refrigerated ingredients have dried out slightly, a splash of pasta water or extra olive oil can help rejuvenate them during the final sauté.

Prepping these elements ahead, you minimize cooking time and effort, making the spicy garlic spaghetti an ideal quick and delicious meal.


You’re now fully equipped to whip up a delicious batch of spicy garlic spaghetti that’s sure to impress. Remember the beauty of this dish lies in its simplicity and the punchy flavors that come from just a few well-prepared ingredients. Whether you’re planning a quick dinner after a long day or looking to add some zest to your meal prep routine this recipe is a perfect choice. Dive in enjoy the bold flavors and don’t forget to share the love with your friends and family. They’ll thank you for it!

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