Garlic Parmesan Pasta

May 15, 2023

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Super quick and easy Garlic Parmesan Pasta! Made with only 4 INGREDIENTS while the secret to the sauce is just the reserved pasta water. It finishes with al dente spaghetti, and a rich and buttery, garlicky parmesan sauce.

Garlilc Parmesan pasta served in a gray pasta bowl over a wooden tray.

Simple Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti

This is a staple recipe for a quick weeknight side dish. This garlic parm pasta is similar to cacio e pepe but includes butter and has less black pepper (unless you prefer an abundance for that kick).

It’s amazing how you can get such a delicious dish with exceptional flavor out of so few ingredients.

You can also easy modify the recipe and include cooked shredded chicken, fresh bright lemon or try it with roasted garlic. Or just serve as is and pair it with roasted broccoli for a simple vegetarian dinner.

Ingredients needed for garlic parmesan pasta.

Garlic Parmesan Pasta Recipe Ingredients

  • Dry spaghetti: I recommend bronze cut pasta for a starchy sauce that clings to pasta.
  • Unsalted butter: Salted butter is fine too you just won’t need to add as much salt to the sauce.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic will be best.
  • Parmesan: Preferably use imported Parmigiano Reggiano for best flavor.
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Reserved pasta water: don’t forget to reserve this it’s critical to the recipe!!

Steps to boiling spaghetti in pot, reserving pasta water and draining in colander.

How to Make Garlic Parmesan Pasta

  1. Boil pasta: Bring 10 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Season with salt (I use 1 Tbsp).
  2. Cook pasta to al dente according to directions listed on package.
  3. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain spaghetti.
  4. Return empty pot to medium-low heat. Melt butter.
  5. Add garlic and saute until fragrant and just barely deepening in color, about 1 minute.
  6. Remove from heat. Return drained pasta to pot with butter mixture, pour in 1/2 hot pasta water and toss.
  7. Sprinkle in and toss in parmesan cheese, tossing until melted and thinning with more reserved pasta water as needed.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Steps of making garlic parmesan pasta.

Recipe Variations

  • Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta: If you want to add chicken just add 2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken. Increase butter by 2 Tbsp and parmesan to 3 oz.
  • Roasted garlic: In place of sautéed garlic you can add 1 to 2 heads roasted garlic that have been removed from peels and chopped.
  • Creamy parmesan sauce: For a richer creamier sauce heat 1/2 cup heavy cream with the butter.
  • Lemon flavor: Try adding 2 tsp fresh lemon zest and a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice for a vibrant variation.
  • Alternate type of pasta: You could also use linguine or fettuccine here.
  • Healthier option: To make it healthier replace butter with extra virgin olive oil and try whole wheat spaghetti.

Close up photo of spaghetti with garlic and parmesan.

Storage and Reheating

  • This pasta can be stored in the fridge up to 3 days.
  • Just reheat individual servings in the microwave until warmed through.
  • You can thin the pasta with some olive oil and for less seperation try reheating on 50% power.

Overhead photo of pasta in serving bowl

More Easy Pasta Recipes to Try

4 from 1 vote

Garlic Parmesan Pasta

A super quick and easy pasta recipe! Made with only 4 INGREDIENTS while the secret to the sauce is just the reserved pasta water. It finishes with al dente spaghetti, and a rich and buttery, garlicky parmesan sauce.
Servings: 4
Prep10 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 oz dry spaghetti
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water (from cooking spaghetti)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 oz. parmesan, finely shredded (I use a rasp grater/zester, 1 heaping cup)

Instructions

  • Bring 10 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Season with salt (I use 1 Tbsp).
  • Cook pasta to al denta according to directions listed on package.
  • Scoop out and reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain spaghetti.
  • Return empty pot to medium-low heat. Melt butter.
  • Add garlic and saute until fragrant and just barely deepening in color, about 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat. Return drained pasta to pot with butter mixture, pour in 1/2 hot pasta water and toss. Sprinkle in and toss in parmesan cheese, tossing until melted and thinning with more reserved pasta water as needed.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition Facts
Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 426 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Trans Fat 0.5g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 40mg13%
Sodium 236mg10%
Potassium 189mg5%
Carbohydrates 55g18%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 466IU9%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 195mg20%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.