This article was updated on 11/07/2023 for clarity and to incorporate new insights.
Ended up with surplus aglio e olio and wondering how to save it? I’m here to show you the best ways to reheat aglio e olio.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best way to reheat aglio e olio is in a frying pan with starchy water. Bring some leftover pasta water (or a cornstarch and water mixture) to a simmer and add your leftover aglio e olio to the pan. Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce has fully re-emulsified.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
A note on my experiment
I cooked up a big batch of deeeelicious aglio e olio and kept it in the refrigerator overnight.
(and yes, I did eat some along the way).
The next day, I tested four different ways of reheating the dish:
- In a pan with starchy water: The best method.
- In a pan with plain water: Good, but not as good as starchy water.
- In a double boiler: Good slow reheating.
- In the microwave: Okay in a pinch.
The main goal of my experiment was to find a reheating method that delivered a perfectly emulsified sauce and pasta that didn’t feel like mush. I also made notes on the taste and how easy the method was.
How to reheat aglio e olio in a pan
Time: 3-4 minutes
- Optional: fry some garlic, chili, or bacon in the pan first to add more flavor.
- Add a thin layer of reserved pasta water (or a mix of cornstarch and water) to the pan and heat on medium.
- Once the pasta water is just starting to simmer, add your leftover aglio e olio and stir/toss continuously until the sauce has re-emulsified and the pasta is hot (around 3-4 minutes).
- Take the pasta off the heat and serve immediately.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking – I threw all the pasta water away yesterday! But don’t worry, you can make your own ‘pasta water’. All you need to do is mix a starch with some water. The starch is what gives the aglio e olio sauce its creamy texture.
Mix 1/4 tsp cornstarch or potato starch with 1 cup of water. If you use cornstarch, microwave the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes to activate the starch.
Another option is to boil a small amount of pasta or potatoes in some water and use that. Or you can use plain water (which I also tested), but don’t expect a super creamy sauce.
Psst… use a wide-bottom pan so as much as the pasta touches the pan as possible.
Results: The stove worked well for reheating aglio e olio because I had good control over the heat. I was also able to stir the dish constantly, which really helped keep the sauce creamy. The pastas flavor wasn’t as vibrant as the day before, but it was still tasty.
How to reheat aglio e olio in a double boiler
Time: 6-7 minutes
- Fill a saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and bring it to a simmer.
- Rest a glass or stainless steel bowl on top of the saucepan (making sure the bottom of it doesn’t touch the water).
- Add the pasta into the bowl along with 2 tablespoons of water (use pasta/starchy water if you have any!).
- Stir the pasta until the sauce has come together and it’s heated all the way through. One portion of pasta will take 6-7 minutes.
I learned this trick when I was experimenting with how to reheat a creamy pasta sauce.
A double boiler uses second-hand heat, which makes it a very gentle reheating method and means there’s minimal risk of the sauce splitting.
Note that a stainless steel bowl will heat faster than a glass one, so this method will be quicker with a metal bowl. If the bowl gets too hot, take it off the heat for a bit to cool down.
Results: The double boiler worked well for my aglio e olio. The sauce stayed together and coated the pasta well. It was pretty quick too, but there’s no opportunity to add extra flavors like there was with the skillet.
How to reheat aglio e olio in the microwave
Time: 40 seconds
- Put the pasta in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water (leftover pasta water is great if you have it, but not essential).
- Cover the bowl with pierced plastic wrap or a microwave splatter plate.
- Heat the aglio e olio for 10 seconds.
- Take the bowl out and stir the pasta.
- Heat in further 10 second increments stirring after each time until the pasta is heated through.
The water produces steam and helps revive dry pasta.
10 seconds may not seem long, but the short intervals are the key to a good aglio e olio.
Being able to stir the pasta regularly helps to re-emulsify the sauce and ensures the pasta reheats evenly. Also, you can take the pasta out as soon as it’s warm enough for you, so you don’t overheat it and turn the pasta mushy.
Results: My sauce split in the microwave despite me being very cautious. It still tasted nice but was noticeably more oily than the other methods. I made the most of it by using a slice of bread to mop up the leftover oil though!
How to store aglio e olio
To store aglio e olio, wait for the pasta to cool and then transfer it to an airtight container. You can keep aglio e olio in the fridge for 4-5 days, but aim to eat it as soon as possible. The longer you leave the pasta, the more sauce it will absorb, and the mushier the texture will become.
The oil in the sauce should stop the pasta from sticking together too much.
Can you freeze aglio e olio?
I don’t recommend freezing aglio e olio because the sauce isn’t stable enough and will split upon thawing. Aglio e olio is a very quick dish to prepare, especially once you’ve done it a few times, so the time-saving benefit of freezing it isn’t worth the loss of quality.
However, if you do want to freeze your aglio e olio, follow these steps:
- Wait for the aglio e olio to cool to room temperature.
- Portion it out and put a single portion in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
- Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can.
- Freeze the pasta for up to 3 months.
Read Next: How To Reheat Arancini
Best Way To Reheat Aglio e Olio [Tested Methods]
- 1 portion leftover aglio e olio
- 1 portion pasta water see article for substitutes
- Add your reserved pasta water (or substitute) to the pan and bring to a medium-hot heat.
- Once the pasta water is just starting to simmer, add your leftover aglio e olio and stir/toss continuously until the sauce has emulsified and the pasta is hot.
- Take the aglio e olio off the heat and serve immediately.