Easy Green Olive Pasta

updated Sep 23, 2022
Easy Green Olive Pasta

A quick and simple recipe for pasta tossed in a lemon-garlic butter and enhanced with chopped green olives.

Serves4 to 6

Prep10 minutes

Cook12 minutes to 14 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When you sauté green olives and garlic in butter, the results are magical. The olives warm and soften, and the garlic infuses the fat with its rich fragrance, creating an easy, flavorful pasta sauce that rivals any restaurant dish. A splash of lemon juice adds acidity for balance, and each portion is finished with freshly ground pepper and generous shavings of Parmesan.

It’s the kind of dinner that feels like a treat to eat, and yet it pretty much came straight from your pantry staples. That’s a serious win in my book.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Get to Know the Best Green Olives Out There

There are countless varieties of green olives out there, but I’ll argue there is one that rules them all: Castelvetranos. These bright-green olives hail from sunny Sicily and taste the way I wish all green olives did.

They are ridiculously meaty and pleasantly mild, with a naturally buttery flavor that surprises me every time I bite into them. Their firm bite means they won’t fall apart in the pasta, and they’ll be easy to grasp when you go in for a twirl.

This unique olive is easier to find than you might think. As they’ve gained popularity over the past few years, most grocery stores carry jars of them under the Mezzetta brand, and they can also be found at Italian markets, specialty stores, and at the olive bar of many grocery stores, often sold by weight.

If you can’t find them, another mild green olive can be substituted, but I encourage you to try to seek them out. Once you’ve tasted them, you’ll have a new favorite variety to snack on.

Easy Green Olive Pasta

A quick and simple recipe for pasta tossed in a lemon-garlic butter and enhanced with chopped green olives.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 14 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    dried bucatini or other long pasta (such as spaghetti or linguine)

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups

    Castelvetrano olives or another mild green olive, such as Cerignola, pitted and coarsely chopped

  • 4 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • Juice of 1 medium lemon

  • 1/4 cup

    coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than al dente, 8 minutes or according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olives and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

  2. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the pasta and the reserved pasta water. Simmer, tossing and stirring the pasta, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the parsley and a few generous grinds of black pepper and toss to combine. Taste and season with more pepper and salt as needed (since the olives are already salty, you might not need to add any salt). Divide among shallow bowls, top with shaved Parmesan or Pecorino cheese if desired, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.