10-Minute Pasta with Olives {VIDEO}

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This flavorful pasta with olives is a terrific example of how to make a quick pasta dish that’s totally delicious with just a handful of basic ingredients. All you need is a few pantry staples and fresh lemon zest!

Quick pasta recipes and one-pot pastas are midweek life savers, and this pasta with olives ready in 10 minutes is perfect when all you need is dinner ready in no time.

Close-up of a white plate full of pasta with olives and chopped parsley.

This easy recipe was a must when I was at uni, and I still love it. And don’t mistake simple for bland, because while quick and easy, this flavorful pasta recipe makes the most of your juicy olives and fresh lemon zest.

All you have to do is cook your spaghetti, and gently fry olives, garlic, chilli flakes in some olive oil (yes, all pantry staples!). Then drain the pasta and add it to the olives along with lemon zest, some parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh parsley. Give them a good toss together to coat the pasta nicely. Serve straight away!

Watch how to make it

Quick, budget-friendly, and totally delicious.
How good is that?

List of the ingredients

  • Pasta (spaghetti, penne, fusilli…)
  • Kalamata olives (or green olives), pitted
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Fresh lemon
  • Chilli flakes (same as crushed red peppers)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt
The ingredients to make this easy pasta with olives are arranged over a white background.

How to make pasta with olives

(Note: this is a quick description with step-by-step photos, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)

  • Cook your pasta until al dente.
  • Grate lemon zest, parmesan cheese and chop the parsley. My microplane and herb scissors make these tasks much easier!
Top view of a small white bowl full of chopped parsley, lemon zest and grated parmesan cheese. A microplane, one lemon and a bunch of parsley in the background.
  • Gently fry the juicy olives, garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil.
  • Drain and add your spaghetti to the pan. I LOVE this one, it delivers non-stick perfection without harmful chemicals.
  • Add the lemon and parsley mix, some pasta water and toss until nicely combined. Enjoy!
First image shows a large white pan with black olives, second image shows that spaghetti, parsley, lemon zest and parmesan cheese are added to the same pan.

Recipe notes & tips

Ingredients & substitutions

PASTA: spaghetti or chunky rigatoni or penne works well for this recipe. We also love whole grain pasta which provides extra fiber and micronutrients.

OLIVES: Kalamata olives add plenty of savory flavor, but you can use other nice green olives instead, just make sure they’re pitted. To use up your olive leftovers, you might have a look at these delicious olive focaccia or chickpea salad.

CHILLI FLAKES (OR CRUSHED RED PEPPERS): I love that spicy kirk, but if spicy is not your thing, feel free to skip or reduce the amount of chilli flakes.

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: use good-quality extra virgin olive oil, you can really taste it here.

LEMON & PARSLEY: their freshness balance the tangy flavor coming from the olives. You might skip the parsley if you wish, but don’t skip the lemon zest!

PARMESAN CHEESE: it makes everything better with its savory flavor. But you can leave it out, or you can use Grana Padano cheese instead, similar in taste to Parmesan but much cheaper.

VEGAN OPTION: just skip the cheese, it tastes delicious anyway!

Close-up of a spaghetti serving spoon full of spaghetti with olives.

Add-ins for pasta with olives

This quick spaghetti with olives is also versatile and goes so well with extra vegetables or protein. You might add one of these delicious add-ons to the pan while you cook the olives:

  • Grilled chicken, some anchovies or canned tuna
  • Halved cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, or canned artichokes
  • Cooked broccoli, cauliflower, peppers or zucchini
Top view of a white plate full of pasta with olives garnished with parsley and chilli flakes.

More easy pasta recipes?

I’ve got you covered! We love pasta, from quick recipes to vegan pasta recipes and everything in between:

If you make this quick pasta with olives, or you have a question, let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you! x
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Close-up of a white plate full of pasta with olives.
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

10-Minute Pasta with Olives.

This flavorful pasta with olives is a brilliant example of how to make a quick pasta dish that’s totally delicious with just a handful of basic ingredients. Garlic, juicy olives, the fresh parsley and lemon zest, all big flavors!
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta with olives
Servings: 4
Calories: 371kcal
Author: Katia



  • 8oz (220 grams) pasta


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ or ½ tsp chilli flakes (crushed red peppers), according to you taste
  • ¾ cup Kalamata olive or green olives, pitted and cut into halves (I mix both halved and whole olives)
  • 1 lemon, zest (finely grated)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving if you wish) optional
  • salt, to taste



  • Firstly, bring a pot of salty water to the boil and cook your pasta until al dente. Follow the instructions on the package.
  • When you drain the pasta, reserve at least ½ cup of pasta cooking water.


  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the olives. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and chilli flakes, cook until fragrant (about 30-45 seconds), then add the olives and stir for about 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off.
  • In a small bowl, mix the grated parmesan cheese if you use it, chopped parsley and grated lemon zest.
  • When the pasta is drained, add it to the pan along with the mix of parsley, lemon and parmesan cheese. Turn the heat on, add some of the pasta cooking water and toss for about 10 seconds, just until well combined and nicely coated. Add the cooking water gradually, you don't want to water down the flavor.
  • Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of chilli flakes if you like. Plus grated parmesan cheese if you don't keep it vegan. Enjoy!


Salt: you need salt basically for the pasta cooking water, not for the olives which already bring saltiness to the dish along with savory parmesan cheese and salty pasta water. 
Storage: it keeps in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Gently reheat in a non-stick pan with some olive oil over medium-low heat.
Nutrition facts: Please note that the nutrition values are based on an online nutrition calculator.  It’s an estimate only and it should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. The nutrition value is for one serving (the parmesan cheese and the final drizzle of olive oil are not included).


Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 715mg | Potassium: 194mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 706IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 167mg | Iron: 1mg


  1. 5 stars
    Made it for lunch with chicken schnitzel came out really good definitely recommend 👌

    1. Fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing, Clinton. : )

  2. 5 stars
    I had some sauteed squash and zucchini leftover that I threw in with the olives to heat, but followed the rest of the recipe. It was really tasty and quick.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Vickie!
      I’m very glad you enjoyed the recipe. : )

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, Heather! I’m glad your liked it. X

  3. 5 stars
    Its very good! I didn’t have extra virgin olive oil so I used a light flavored oil so its not as good as it could be on my end. But its wonderful!

    1. That’s great to hear, Knija! Thanks so much for sharing and for rating the recipe, I appreciate it. xx

  4. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe several times and each time I love it. It’s easy to make, requires ingredients that most people have in their homes and the results are delicious.

    1. That’s fantastic, thanks so much for sharing your feedback, Suzanne!
      I’m so happy to hear you’ve already made it several times.
      Have a great week! xx

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