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top down view of a bowl filled with garlic butter pasta

Garlic Butter Pasta

This simple side dish goes with chicken, ground beef, seafood and more.
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Course: Side Dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 368kcal


  • 8 ounces (225g) spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • Pinch lemon zest optional
  • ½ cup (120ml) reserved pasta water divided
  • ½ cup (45g) Parmesan cheese grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parsley for garnish (optional)


  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions until slightly al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.
  • Heat butter over low-medium heat, add in minced garlic, and cook for about 60 seconds until fragrant (be careful not to burn it).
  • Switch off the heat and add in the pasta, half of the reserved pasta water, lemon zest (if using), and cheese, Stir until well coated and creamy. Add more water as needed.
  • Season with salt and pepper, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.


  • The pasta will continue to cook when you add it to the garlic butter sauce, so cook it to al dente to avoid mushy pasta. 
  • Melt the butter over medium-low heat, so the garlic doesn’t burn when you add it. 
  • Garnish with additional parmesan cheese before serving. 
  • Storage –  keep in an airtight container inside the fridge for 2 days. Although not ideal, cooked pasta can be kept frozen in zip top bags or an airtight container for up to 3 months. 


Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 296mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 458IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 1mg