Garlic Butter Pasta is the ultimate quick and easy dinner recipe made with only 4 ingredients in about 20 minutes. Warm pasta is tossed in a simple garlic butter sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese. This flavorful butter noodle recipe is a satisfying meal that can be served as a main dish or as a side dish.
A bowl of buttered pasta served on a weeknight dinner feels like pure comfort food just like this easy Penne A La Vodka!
Easy Garlic Butter Pasta
Growing up my grandma did most of the cooking, but some days my grandpa would take over and make us dinner. Buttered noodles or spaghetti with garlic butter (fideos en mantequilla as he called it) was one of the dinners we looked forward to the most.
After cooking the pasta, he would melt butter in a skillet and sauté fresh garlic until it became aromatic. Warm pasta cooked al-dente would go in for a quick toss, then he would add a bit of the cooking water. A creamy but light sauce would be created. To me, the silky sauce that grabbed each noodle was magical! Just like the garlicky, buttery taste of this simple dish. After a quick sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, dinner was ready!
Why This Recipe Works?
- Quick and Easy: This is an effortless pasta dish that requires no planning and can be on the table in very little time.
- Delicious: Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you! This vegetarian dinner option is full of flavor.
- Budget Friendly: Pasta is a very inexpensive meal option. The other ingredients are used in small quantities and are also budget friendly.
- Customizable: This easy pasta recipe can be customized in many different ways. Add spices, herbs, different proteins and experiment with other types of cheese.
Butter Pasta Ingredients
- Pasta: Use what you have on hand. Long noodles like spaghetti, linguine, angel hair are excellent options as well as any short pasta like penne and even macaroni. Egg noodles are also delicious.
- Butter: Salted or unsalted butter can be used. Use what you have or prefer.
- Garlic: Although I prefer the flavor of fresh garlic, I have made this recipe with granulated garlic powder with great success.
- Parmesan Cheese: This dish is not heavy on cheese, but you can add as much as you’d like!
- Salt and Pepper. I prefer sea salt or Kosher salt and black pepper.
How To Make Buttered Noodles
This is just a highlight on how to make this recipe. For detailed instructions and times, please check the recipe card below.
- Cook the Pasta: First, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Salting the water is important and a step that should not be skipped. Building flavor from the beginning is a must especially when cooking simple dishes.
- Drain the Pasta: Reserve some of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it. You want to keep the noodles nice and hot.
- Garlic Butter: Melt some of the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté lightly stirring frequently. You want to flavor the butter without browning the garlic. Keeping the heat low is key.
- Add the Cooked Pasta: Add the pasta to the skillet and toss. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add some of the pasta water (a couple of spoonfuls at a time) and the remaining butter. Toss. Season and serve.
You have questions? We have answers!
What Is Garlic Butter Sauce Made Of?
In this pasta recipe, the velvety, creamy sauce is simply made by sautéing garlic in butter and then tossing it with the pasta and some of the pasta cooking water. The water blends with the flavorful butter creating a thin, silky and creamy sauce that coats each noodle! It makes them wonderfully glossy and so delicious!
What Type Of Pasta Should I Use?
Throughout the years I have made this pasta recipe with all sorts of noodle shapes. There was a time when long noodles like spaghetti where too hard to manage for my kids. Small shape pastas like farfalle, penne and fusilli were easier options during family meal time. I suggest you use the pasta you have in your pantry first or purchase whatever shape you like.
Storage and Reheating
Storing: Although there is nothing better than eating pasta dishes right after they are made, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Reheating: Butter pasta can be reheated in a skillet over low heat or in the microwave. Add a splash of water to loosen the sauce. Feel free to add a bit of butter if your pasta is too dry. An extra sprinkle of Parmesan or Romano never hurts!
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing this pasta dish.
What To Serve with Butter Noodles
As a vegetarian main dish, we love serving it with a simple salad or with blanched green beans. As a side dish, the possibilities are endless! Here are some dishes that pair well with this recipe:
- Cuban Mojo Chicken
- Honey Ginger Salmon
- Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- Air Fryer Honey Garlic Marinated Chicken Thighs
- London Broil
- Grilled Portobello Mushrooms Caprese
Butter Pasta Recipe Tips
- After draining the pasta, don’t rinse it. You want to keep the noodles warm so when you put it back in the hot pot, the garlic butter melts into the pasta.
- Sauté the garlic over low heat. Flavoring the butter slowly without browning the garlic is important.
- It’s best to eat pasta dishes right after they are done cooking; however, you can store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
- This creamy pasta recipe doesn’t have any dairy or plant based milk or cream.
- This easy garlic butter noodles recipe can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta.
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Easy Garlic Butter Noodles
- 8 ounces dried pasta noodles (long or short pasta)
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Chopped parsley (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- In a skillet or Dutch oven large enough to hold the pasta, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté lightly, stirring frequently. You want to flavor the butter without browning the garlic so do this over low heat.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss with kitchen tongs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and toss so the cheese melts. Add some of the pasta water (a couple of spoonfuls at a time) and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Toss, adding more pasta cooking water until the pasta is glossy and coated. Most likely, you won’t need all the cooking water.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper, give it a quick toss and serve immediately topped with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.