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Spicy Aglio e Olio


Spicy Aglio e Olio on white plate with herbs, garlic, and pepper flakes surrounding

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We know what you’re thinking “This isn’t Aglio e Olio.” You aren’t wrong. Otherwise known as spaghetti with olive oil and garlic, Aglio e Olio is a traditional Italian flavorful and quick pasta dish. Simply google “Aglio e Olio” and you’ll find a plethora of authentic recipes. But if you want to spice things up, literally, then this Spicy Aglio e Olio for you. Not only does this recipe call for a heavy hand of chili flakes to give it more heat, I added another unconventional ingredient: anchovies. Yes, they’re necessary. The anchovies add a rich, salty, slightly funky umami flavor. Topped off with crispy toasted cheesy panko breadcrumbs for texture. Try this recipe once, and you may never go back to the original.

Spicy Aglio e Olio

Servings: 3


Spicy Garlic & Olive Oil Sauce
  • ½ lb. pasta spaghetti
  • cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 Tbsp. red chili flakes (if sensitive to spice start with 2 tsp.)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 anchovy filets, minced
  • cup reserved pasta water, save ½ cup, just in case
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
Crispy Parm Breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup panko unseasoned
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt


Crispy Parm Breadcrumbs
  • In a small frying pan over low-medium heat add olive oil. Once heated up add breadcrumbs and toss in olive oil. Toast until golden brown (but not burnt!), tossing or mixing every few seconds. (Approx 5-7 minutes)
  • Add salt. Remove from heat and add the cheese in 2 parts, stirring each time to incorporate cheese into the breadcrumbs without clumping or burning. Place on the side for later use.
Spicy Aglio e Olio
  • Prepare pasta according to package directions in salty water. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before draining. Drain pasta and set aside.
  • In a pot over low heat add olive oil. Once heated up add chili flakes and stir. Cook flakes for 3 minutes.
  • Add garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Garlic should not get brown or burn. If either begins to happen, lower the heat.
  • Add chopped anchovies and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add pasta water starting with ⅓ of a cup. Stir to incorporate the spicy garlic oil and pasta water.
  • Add pasta and parsley and toss. If pasta is a little dry add the remaining pasta water. Serve and top with crispy breadcrumbs. Enjoy!


This dish is truly a blank canvas. It's delicious as is, however if you want to beef up or adjust this recipe below are just a few suggestions.
  • Add protein – Make this a more substantial dish by adding grilled chicken or salmon. Cook the proteins separate from the pasta and serve together. Another great addition would be crispy prosciutto.
  • Add more cheese – If the crispy parm panko isn’t enough cheese add some grated parm right before tossing in the pasta.
  • Add vegetables – Kale, cherry tomatoes, and sautéed zucchini would be great additions to this dish.
Spicy Aglio e Olio

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Eden Nosal

Founder of The Bold Appetite

Eden Nosal is the founder of The Bold Appetite. Once a corporate retail professional, she turned to food photography and content creation in pursuit of her culinary passion. Her food and cooking blog is dedicated to big, bold flavors with recipes that combine global inspiration with approachability for the home cook. From harissa roasted tomatoes and spicy scallion noodles to homemade hummus, The Bold Appetite serves as the destination to satisfy your daily food fix.