A satisfying Garlic Angel Hair Pasta recipe that proves simple and quick doesn't have to mean boring!
This recipe was originally published April 25, 2019. It was updated with a new video on November 16, 2020 and new photos and recipe information on December 2, 2020.
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This Garlic Angel Hair Pasta Recipe is one of my go-to pasta recipes. It's quick and easy, delicious, and so versatile!
I read somewhere that comfort food is defined mainly by the type of food we ate and were comforted by as children. If this is the case, this Garlic Angel Hair Pasta is my definition of comfort food.
In elementary school, my family and I often went to a Bay Area Italian restaurant, Strizzi’s, where I ordered angel hair in almost every form. With chicken on it, tossed with butter, smothered in alfredo sauce. You name it.
As someone who has almost always been fascinated with abnormally shaped, sized, colored or otherwise non-traditional food, I was taken with the delicate noodle and light texture.
An Adult Comfort
I've carried my love of angel hair into adulthood, but disordered eating of my teens and early twenties and passing diet fads complicated our relationship.
Time has gone on, however, and my restrictions have loosened. I've started to own that every food has its own place in my life. I have started to embrace balance.
I've started to see that a restrictive mindset motivated by a poor body and self-image are really what's harmful, not the carbs.
So, I've added back in the angel hair pasta and I've stepped it up to reflect my adult taste buds. Tossing it with olive oil, butter, beautifully browned garlic, and flat-leaf parsley satisfies in a way that brings back that childhood comfort while reminding me of the blessings of balance in the present.
Here at Mae's Menu, we have a variety of readers: those who are more experienced in the kitchen and want to zip straight through to the recipe and those who want to learn more about the dish, potential substitutions, and more.
To skip straight to the recipe, just click "Jump to Recipe" at the top left of this post. To browse the post quickly, just click the headings in the table of contents below.
Table of contents
- Recipe ingredients:
- Recipe substitutions:
- How long does angel hair, or capellini, need to cook?
- Can you make this recipe gluten-free?
- Can you make this recipe dairy-free or vegan?
- How do you saute garlic without burning it?
- How do you peel garlic?
- Can you make this recipe with bottled minced garlic?
- How do we make this angel hair pasta recipe?
- Tips to make this recipe perfect every time:
- Can you make this recipe with other types of pasta?
- Do you have to rinse pasta after cooking?
- What can you serve with this angel hair pasta recipe?
- How long do leftovers last?
- Can you freeze these leftovers?
- Can you halve or double this recipe?
- What tools do you need to make this angel hair pasta?
- Other Italian-inspired dinner recipes you'll LOVE!
The ingredients in this recipe are mainly pantry staples with a few fresh ingredients to add some flavor:
- Angel hair, or capellini pasta - any brand is fine and follow the notes below to find a gluten-free pasta
- Salt - sea salt or Himalayan salt are best, but table salt also works
- Olive Oil - a virgin or light olive oil is best because they can handle more heat, but extra virgin olive oil can work if you only have that on hand.
- Garlic - freshly sliced cloves are the best!
- Red pepper flakes - we'll just need the classic dried pepper flakes here, nothing too fancy
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley - flat-leaf gives the best flavor and texture for this dish, but curly parsley can suffice as a substitute.
- Unsalted butter - unsalted butter is better than salted butter for this recipe, but you can use salted butter if you have it.
Butter: you can substitute in 2 tablespoons more of olive oil or 2 tablespoons ghee in place of the butter
Parsley: as I mentioned above, if you don't have flat-leaf parsley, you can use curly parsley. Just make sure to mince it finely.
Angel hair pasta: many other types of pasta can substitute for the angel hair pasta. Linguine, spaghetti, spaghettini, and even smaller shapes like bow ties or orecchiette all work well.
How long does angel hair, or capellini, need to cook?
Once you get your salted water to a rolling boil, it only takes about 2-4 minutes to cook angel hair pasta, though cooking times can vary by brand.
Can you make this recipe gluten-free?
Yes, it's super easy to make this recipe gluten-free! Just substitute a gluten-free pasta in place of the wheat pasta and you are good to go.
Can you make this recipe dairy-free or vegan?
This recipe is pretty simple to make dairy-free and vegan as well! Use 2 extra tablespoons olive oil in place of the butter to make the recipe vegan. Use 2 extra tablespoons olive or 2 tablespoons ghee to make this recipe dairy-free.
How do you saute garlic without burning it?
Due to its high sugar content, garlic can brown pretty quickly. It can go from brown to burnt even more quickly, too.
Keep an eye on the garlic the whole time you are sauteing it (i.e. don't step away from the pan!) and remove the garlic from the heat once the garlic starts to turn a golden brown. It should brown up a bit more with the residual heat from the pan. Keeping it on the heat any longer, however, can quickly push garlic to the burnt phase.
How do you peel garlic?
Here's how I recommend peeling garlic:
- Peel the cloves off of the garlic bulb
- Trim the base of each of the cloves
- Rest the wide side of your chef's knife on one clove of garlic and press down firmly with the palm of your hand, until the clove is just lightly smashed
- Peel the skin off the clove and repeat gently smashing and peeling the skin off with the remaining cloves
Can you make this recipe with bottled minced garlic?
Though you can technically make this recipe with bottled garlic, I recommend using fresh garlic if possible. Fresh garlic has a sweetener flavor that really shines in this dish, whereas bottled garlic can be a bit bland or even bitter.
How do we make this angel hair pasta recipe?
- Boil the angel hair pasta according to the package directions in heavily salted water. Drain.
- Return the empty pasta pot to the stovetop and melt the oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic to the pan and saute, stirring constantly, until it starts to turn golden brown.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pasta, parsley, and pepper flakes into the garlic oil. Toss until the pasta is evenly covered in the oil, season with any additional salt to taste, and serve hot!
Tips to make this recipe perfect every time:
- Heavily salt your pasta water -- this makes the world of a difference in the flavor of your pasta! Salt your water so it tastes like sea water, or about 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon of water.
- Don't overcook the pasta -- angel hair pasta is very fine and delicate and when it overcooks it gets mushy. Strain your pasta when it is more al dente.
- Watch the garlic carefully as you cook it -- garlic can go from golden and tasty to burnt and bitter in no time. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, stir it frequently, and remove the garlic from the heat as soon as it starts to turn golden.
- Adjust the red pepper to your taste preferences -- the amount of red pepper in this recipe is enough to add a little spunk without too much forward heat. Decrease or increase the pepper to your taste preferences, however.
- Take the pan off the heat before you toss in the pasta -- this will keep the pasta from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Can you make this recipe with other types of pasta?
You can most definitely make this recipe with other types of pasta. Linguine, spaghetti, bucatini, and even medium-size shaped pasta (bow-ties, rotini, etc.) can work. Just boil the pasta according to the package directions and continue on with the recipe as direction.
Fun fact: when you make it with other pasta, this recipe is technically a version of pasta aglio e olio!
Do you have to rinse pasta after cooking?
Nope, you do not need to rinse pasta after cooking if you are making a hot pasta dish like this. Just simply drain the pasta in a colander and then use it in the rest of the recipe as it is called for.
What can you serve with this angel hair pasta recipe?
You can serve this pasta many different ways, depending on how hungry you are. Below are some ways we like to enjoy it!
- Side salad
- Air-fryer lemon green beans: the lemon in the green beans complements the garlic in this dish so well.
- Air-Fryer Zucchini
- Sauteed or grilled shrimp or chicken
- Chicken sausage meatballs
- Easy Turkey Meatballs
- Grilled steak
How long do leftovers last?
Leftovers last covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Can you freeze these leftovers?
These leftovers do not freeze well. The pasta is too delicate to reheat well, so the recipe is best enjoyed within a few days of making it.
Can you halve or double this recipe?
This recipe is perfect for halving or doubling. Just divide or multiple the ingredients by your desired multiple and follow the directions as listed.
What tools do you need to make this angel hair pasta?
Other Italian-inspired dinner recipes you'll LOVE!
- Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Peas
- Baked Italian Sausage Casserole with Ricotta Cheese
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (Red Pesto)
- Sausage Risotto
- Zucchini Lasagna
- Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce
- Instant Pot Beef Ragu
- Italian Tuna Pasta Salad
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Don't let this unassuming pasta fool you. Flavor bombs of garlic, oil, parsley, and salt make this Angel Hair Pasta Recipe balanced and satisfying pasta with loads of flavor. Ready in under 25 minutes.
- 1 16 oz, package angel hair pasta
- ¼ cup olive oil , plus any additional to garnish/drizzle (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2-4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley , plus any additional to garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cook pasta in a heavily salted (at least 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon water), according to package directions. Drain pasta in a colander and leave pasta there.
- Return empty pasta cooking pot to the burner and turn heat to medium low. Add oil and butter to pan and let melt. Once the butter starts to foam, add garlic and saute for 1- 1.5 minutes, or until the garlic just starts to turn golden. Remove from heat.
- Add pasta, red pepper flakes, and parsley to the pot and toss until all are distributed evenly. Move to a serving bowl and drizzle with any additional oil, if desired. Serve hot.
This pasta keeps covered in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Make sure to keep an eye on the garlic as you saute it -- it can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as it starts to turn golden and you will have perfectly sauteed garlic.
Amount Per Serving Calories 174Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 8mgSodium 269mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 3g
This nutrition breakdown is an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.