Simple? Yes! Incredibly flavorful? Double yes! It doesn’t get much easier than this
quick homemade garlic butter sauce. Prepared stovetop, the sauce
combines unsalted butter with fresh minced garlic, and is ready within 5 minutes.
Pro tip: Don’t brown the garlic!

A brown and white bowl of pasta with butter and parsley and a fork.

Recipes that you can make from memory, no—by heart—have a lot of things in common. They’re usually quick (5 minutes), have just a few ingredients (just 4!), and they’re always darn good. Equally as good as my spaghetti aglio e olio, this garlic and butter sauce is worth memorizing for all your favorite garlic lovers.

Don’t freak out when you see how loaded this buttery, rich sauce is with garlic. It’s spread out across a half-pound of pasta and everyone you are serving it to is going to be in the same boat as you.

Just provide some breath mints with dessert.

What to serve alongside pasta with garlic and butter: fresh arugula salad, baked chicken parmesan, or my mom’s crispy chicken recipe. Or give my eggplant parmesan stacks a try…so good!

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Easy from-scratch pasta sauce

A skillet of parsley topped garlic butter pasta with a fork and lace napkin.

Butter garlic sauce is one of those from scratch pasta sauces you’ll make from memory after making it one time.

Here’s why:

  • Pasta shape friendly. This sauce works for pretty much every pasta shape. I also think garlic and butter pasta sauce for ravioli is one of the best combos on earth. Especially with a ricotta cheese ravioli.
  • Crusty bread’s best friend. This buttery garlic sauce is begging to be dipped into! Make a batch of my crispy focaccia bread recipe and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Versatile. Any pasta sauce recipe that can be paired with chicken, fish, shellfish or vegetables is worth bookmarking, right?

Ingredient spotlight

Just like this super popular butter and cream sauce, my simple homemade butter sauce for pasta calls for only a few ingredients.

Heads of garlic, sticks of butter, a knife and strands of spaghetti.

🧈 Unsalted butter. A whole stick of butter (good quality butter, please!). Unsalted butter is also recommended so that you can control the salt (see the FAQ’s below).

🧄 Garlic cloves. 8 cloves sounds like a lot but all that fresh minced garlic adds so much flavor!

🧂 Kosher salt and black pepper. Start with less and add more to taste. The right amount of salt is important with pasta!

Quick butter sauce for pasta: step-by-step

This is going to move super fast so grab a large skillet, some butter and garlic and let’s get cooking!

Skillet with a stick of butter melted and garlic cloves nearby.
Minced garlic on a wooden cutting board with a knife.
A skillet with melted butter and sauteed garlic and a wooden paddle.
  1. Melt the butter (a whole stick…you are making a butter-based sauce for pasta!) over low heat until it foams a bit. This should take a couple of minutes. (I told you…it’s a quick meal!)
  2. While the butter simmers down, finely mince the garlic and then add the garlic to the pan along with some salt and pepper.
  3. Simmer the garlic on low for 5 minutes.
  4. That’s it! So easy!

Pro Tip

Don’t leave the stove as the garlic is cooking. It’ll turn brown or burn really quickly and you’ll be starting over from scratch!


Cook some pasta

A skillet of cooked pasta tossed with garlic butter and parsley on top.
  • Bring a large stock pot filled with water to boil.
  • Once boiling, add a handful of kosher or sea salt.
  • Add in about 1 lb of spaghetti or your favorite pasta shape.
  • Cook for about 1 minute less than the package states for al dente. Reserve some pasta water.
  • Add cooked pasta to sauce in skillet and toss until the sauce is absorbed by the pasta. Stir in a little pasta water as needed.
  • Sprinkle over fresh grated parmesan cheese, some crushed red pepper for heat and taste for seasoning. Finish with parsley for some fresh flavor and color.

Pasta water

Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water to help “marry” the sauce and pasta together in the pan.

-Josie + Nina

Variations

You can use this butter garlic pasta sauce as the springboard for other dishes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Lemon butter garlic pasta sauce. Squeeze in some lemon for bright zest of flavor. Serve with sauteed scallops or shrimp…so good!
  • Pasta with garlic butter and mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms first and then add to the butter and garlic.
  • Chicken and pasta with garlic butter sauce. Add some of my Foolproof Chicken and make it a whole meal!
  • Vegetarian version with spinach, mushrooms, pepper and a little shaved truffle or truffle butter. YUMMO!

Storage, make ahead, reheat and freezer tips

Store

Use garlic butter pasta sauce within 3 days whether tossed with pasta or stored in an airtight container.

Make ahead

Garlic butter sauce can be made ahead and melted in a skillet or saucepan before tossing with hot pasta.

Reheat

Heat covered in the microwave in 30 second increments.

Freeze

Garlic butter sauce can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months.


Made this recipe?

I’d love it if you’d share your review and leave a star rating and comment!


A brown and white bowl of pasta with butter and parsley and a fork.
5 from 4 votes

5 Minute Garlic-Butter Sauce for Pasta

Simple? Yes! Incredibly flavorful? Double yes!! It doesn’t get much easier than this quick homemade garlic and butter pasta sauce. Prepared stovetop, the sauce combines unsalted butter with fresh minced garlic, and is ready within 5 minutes. Pro tip: Don't brown the garlic!
Cook Time:5 minutes
Total Time:5 minutes
Servings 2
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Equipment

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic very finely.
    8 cloves garlic
  • In a large skillet over low heat, melt the butter until it foams.
    8 oz unsalted butter
  • Add the garlic to the butter along with the salt and pepper and cook on a simmer or low for about 5 minutes. You don't want to brown the garlic.
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Toss the cooked pasta in with the butter and garlic sauce until all the pasta strands are coated with the sauce.
    ½ lb spaghetti or linguine
  • Sprinkle over fresh parmesan, chopped parsley and crushed red pepper if using. Eat immediately and enjoy!
    fresh parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, crushed red pepper

Notes

  • Watch the garlic closely and use low heat/simmer setting on your stove. As soon as it’s brown, the flavor of the dish will change so don’t brown the garlic.
Storage and Freezing
Use garlic butter pasta sauce within 3 days whether tossed with pasta or stored in an airtight container.
Can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Defrost in the refrigerator.
Reheating Tips
Gently reheat pasta with garlic butter sauce either on the stove until warmed to your preference or in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring occasionally.
Variations
Top with juicy cooked chicken breast along with some sauteed spinach for a easy weeknight meal.
Serve alongside pasta with butter and cream sauce or Italian red sauce for a casual gathering with friends.
Course: Dinner, First Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Author: Lori Murphy
Did you make this recipe? Tag @josieandnina or tag #josieandnina!
5 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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2 Comments

  1. I made your 5 minute garlic butter sauce for Pasta, for my husband & myself for dinner tonight & it was so delicious! We’re both big fans & I will make it again. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Judy5 stars