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garlic butter sauce for pasta

Garlic Butter Sauce Pasta

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 modest servings 1x


This garlic butter sauce for pasta is simple but spot on in flavor! Pair garlic with Parmesan and pasta water for a killer sauce.


  • 8 ounces* short pasta, like penne, rigatoni, or casarecce, plus saved pasta water (gluten free if desired)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Cook the pasta (and save the pasta water!): Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Set the timer for a few minutes less than the package instructions and then taste: the pasta should be just done, still with some firmness. The pasta should also taste salty from the salted water. Save out 1/2 cup pasta water using a glass measuring cup for the sauce, then quickly drain the pasta.
  2. Make the garlic butter sauce: Mince the garlic. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant and garlic just starts to turn golden. Remove from the heat before garlic browns (watch it carefully because it can brown quickly!). 
  3. Serve: Toss with the drained pasta, grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and just enough pasta water until saucy (we used 2 to 3 tablespoons pasta water). Taste again and add a few more pinches of salt if desired. Enjoy warm. 


*Double this amount for a larger, more filling plate of pasta. You can also add sautéed veggies to the pasta (like mushrooms or kale), or complete your meal with a filling vegetable side dish or salad.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Garlic butter sauce for pasta