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Spicy Aglio e Olio

Aglio e Olio or other known as spaghetti with olive oil and garlic is a traditional Italian dish comprised of just a handful ingredients. The result? An anytime, any day, flavorful, and quick pasta dish. If you came here looking for a traditional Aglio e Olio, then this recipe isn’t for you. Simply google “Aglio e Olio” and you will find a plethora of authentic recipes. If you stumbled upon this post because you are like me and want to spice things up, literally, then this spicy Aglio e Olio is for you.

I can hear it now… “this isn’t Aglio e Olio”. You aren’t wrong. Not only does this recipe call for a heavy hand of chili flakes to give it more heat, but I also added another unconventional ingredient to the sauce, anchovies. The anchovies add a rich, salty, slightly funky umami flavor. Yes, they are necessary. Topped off with crispy toasted cheesy panko breadcrumbs for texture. Try this recipe once, and you may never go back to the original.

plate of spicy Aglio e Olio

What You’ll Need for Spicy Aglio e Olio

  • Pasta – Traditionally this dish uses spaghetti, or another long pasta. However as always players choice.
  • Garlic – Fresh only!
  • Olive Oil – For best results use a good extra virgin olive oil. Since the heat stays on low for the entire duration of cooking you don’t have to worry about the low smoke point of EVOO. Extra virgin will give this sauce the most flavor.
  • Parsley
  • Red Chili Flakes – This recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of chili flakes, which to some people may be too much. Start with 2 tsp and add more.
  • Anchovies
  • Pasta Water– Just a reminder to save some pasta water for the sauce.
  • Panko Bread Crumbs – Unseasoned.
  • Parmesan Cheese– Freshly grated. You can substitute for Pecorino Romano cheese.
plate of spicy Aglio e Olio

Additions + Substitutions

This dish is truly a blank canvas. Delicious as is, however if you want to beef up or adjust this recipe below are just a few suggestions.

  • Add a 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.
plate of spicy Aglio e Olio

As always, most pasta dishes are best served immediately. While this dish tastes best hot, it is also a great one to enjoy at room temperature.

Looking for other quick flavorful pasta dishes? Check out the below!


Spicy Aglio e Olio

Print Recipe
A twist on a classic Aglio e Olio.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian
Keyword 20 Minute Meal, Pasta, Spicy
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 3 people


Spicy Garlic & Olive Oil Sauce

  • 1/2 lb pasta spaghetti
  • 1/3 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
  • 1/3 cup pasta water reserve 1/2
  • 2 tbsp parsely finely chopped

Crispy Parm Breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup panko unseasoned
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 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 the heat and add the cheese in 2 parts, stiring each time to incorporate the cheese into the breadcrumbs without clumping, or burning. Place on the side for later use.

Spicy Aglio e Olio

  • Prepare pasta as per packaging in salty water. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Drain pasta and place on the side.
  • 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 5 minutes.
  • Add pasta water starting with 1/3 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!


  • There is no instruction to add salt to the pasta. This dish gets its salt from the anchovies, salty pasta water, and bread crumbs.

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