Dinner for One: Easy Pasta with Olive Oil & Garlic

This easy pasta recipe is my go-to dinner when there’s no time to cook. In Italy, it’s known as pasta aglio e olio, which means pasta with olive oil and garlic. A few simple ingredients like spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan are all you need!

overhead photo of pasta on a black plate

Confession: When I find myself alone for dinner, I often make bad choices. Sometimes it’s pizza, sometimes it’s fast food procured from a drive-through window. And, yes, sometimes it’s ice cream.

In an attempt to thwart this bad behavior, I’ve been thinking about easy dinners that can stand up to the junk food cravings that seem to hit when I am left to my own devices for dinner.

Olive oil and garlic pasta is the perfect solution on nights when the bright lights of a fast-food chain beckons. It’s a super easy pasta recipe that takes no time at all to make.


  • 2 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • ground black pepper

If you don’t love super garlic-y pasta, you may want to cut the garlic amount in half (or if you really love garlic, chop up an extra clove!) – Remember, I enjoyed this while I was home alone for a week. I didn’t care if I reeked of garlic. Do whatever makes you happy because that’s what a dinner for one is all about, right?

How to Make Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic

In the time it takes to boil the spaghetti, you can have this easy pasta dish for one ready to go. It’s so fast and easy!

photo collage showing the steps to make the pasta
  • First, warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Cook the garlic in the oil until it’s lightly golden and softened. It doesn’t take long, so keep an eye on it and lower the heat if it’s browning too fast.
  • Reserve a tablespoon of the starchy pasta water before you drain the pasta.
  • Add the cooked spaghetti and the tablespoon of starchy pasta water to the skillet and toss it with the garlic oil.
  • Add the chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese, toss it all again, and serve!
photo of a skillet of pasta

Other Ways to Dress it Up

Part of the appeal of this olive oil and garlic pasta is that it’s very simple and so delicious! That said, there are ways to dress it up:

  • If you like a little heat, add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes when you add the garlic to the oil.
  • Add a little lemon zest when you add the hot spaghetti to the skillet. It will give it a pop of brightness.
  • Switch up the herbs – add dried herbs like oregano, rosemary or Italian seasoning when you heat up the oil (1/4 of a teaspoon should be plenty!). Or, add some fresh herbs like basil or thyme before serving it.
  • Add a protein like cooked chicken or shrimp to make it more filling.
  • Serve it with crusty bread and a fresh green salad on the side for a complete meal.

I hope you love this easy dinner for one as much as I do! This pasta with olive oil and garlic is one of my all-time favorite easy pasta recipes ❤

Happy cooking!

close up photo of a plate of pasta

📣 Do you love this recipe? I would love to know! Leave a comment below the recipe, along with your recipe star rating.


Pasta with Olive Oil and Garlic (Aglio e Olio)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 15 reviews

This olive oil and garlic pasta (or aglio e olio as it’s known in Italy) is my go-to dinner when I’m on my own. All it takes is a few simple ingredients and about 15 minutes to pull it together! This recipe serves one, but you can easily scale it up if you want a few more servings.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 serving 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 2 ounces (about 1/8 of box) spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 23 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • fresh ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Toss in the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil over medium low heat. Add in the garlic and let it cook until soft and golden (you may need to lower the heat to keep it from browning too fast).
  3. Once the spaghetti is cooked drain it while reserving about 1 tablespoons of the starchy pasta water. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the oil and garlic. Toss the pasta around until it’s coated (this is where you can add in the starchy pasta water to keep the pasta moist if it looks too dry).
  4. Add in the parsley and grated cheese, toss to combine and serve.


  • Calories: 472
  • Sugar: 1.9g
  • Sodium: 494.1mg
  • Fat: 23.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 7.8g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 44.7g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 20.4g
  • Cholesterol: 24.1mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.


  1. Mmmmmm…. this looks delicious AND easy. SCORE! I can see myself making this, too, and I wouldn’t care about smelling like garlic. Plus, it’s so healthy to get a good dose of garlic in the system!

    Hope you’re enjoying your weekend–stopping in from SITS Sharefest 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I agree — there are some great health benefits with garlic, so I guess that makes this recipe healthy? 🙂

  2. I keep a bag of frozen shrimp on hand so when I make pasta for one, i throw some of the shrimp in. It is my go to protein.

  3. I made this for my boyfriend, he’s on a low sodium diet since he has high blood pressure… I Literally found this recipe a few minutes before making this for his lunch… I’m glad I was able to find all the ingredients in my kitchen.. I didnt add salt to the pasta while its boiling (for his health reasons) and I added very little Parmesan. But I took your tip and added grated lemon zest. This dish was simple yet delicious and full of flavor thanks to all the fresh ingredients…

    1. Jazmin – thanks for letting me know! I’m so glad he enjoyed it – thanks for including the adjustments you made. I’m sure other readers will appreciate the tips 🙂

  4. Love, love, love this recipe!!! It’s so perfect! I left out the cheese because I have EE & lactose intolerance but it was still A+! I will definitely be making this again.

  5. I haven’t tried it yet but I will soon I want to become a really good cook 👩‍🍳 btw I’m an 11 year old but I can bake,and cook🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  6. I didn’t have Parmesan, fresh parsley, or lemon zest, but I added a few flakes of red pepper to the garlic while it was cooking and some chopped kalamata olives at the very end. Delish.

  7. I use more olive oil in pan, retain half of the water from spaghetti, cut up a cup or two of grape tomatoes that get thrown in with garlic and covered till soft, then I throw the garlic pool with tomato concoction right in with the spaghetti. Served on a plate so the parmesan cheese doesn’t get weird from too much heat and it’s delicious.

  8. OMG. I don’t know if I was just really hungry or what but this was sooooo good. I couldn’t stop eating it!!! I literally had to tell myself, “just one more bite and you have to be done”. Love this….maybe a little TOO MUCH!

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