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The Best Way To Reheat Aglio e Olio [I Test 4 Methods]

Aglio e olio is such a simple, easy and delicious dish to prepare. But sometimes we just don’t have any time on our hands (I feel you).

Or maybe you’re like me and hate wasting food.

Whatever your reason, I’m here to show you the best methods of reheating aglio e olio so that it’s (almost) as good as the moment you cooked it.

I have experimented with countless different reheating methods, to find out what one delivers:

  • A perfectly emulsified sauce (no oily, split nastiness here)
  • Pasta that doesn’t feel like mush

In a rush? Here’s the short answer.

What’s the best way of reheating aglio e olio? The best way of reheating 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 2-3 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 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 starch and water mixture
  • In a pan with water
  • In a double boiler
  • In the microwave

The problem with reheating aglio e olio is that the sauce is an emulsion of oil and water, bound together by the starch in the pasta water.

Reheating can often cause the sauce to split, and you’ll end up with oily pasta instead of creamy pasta.

Therefore my main goal with this experiment was to find a reheating method that kept the sauce intact. I also made notes on the taste and pasta texture.

The pan with the starchy water worked best, closely followed by the double boiler.

The pan with water worked okay, and the microwave split the sauce, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Reheating aglio e olio in a pan

The best way to reheat Aglio e olio is in a frying pan. Add some reserved pasta water (or substitute for a cornstarch and water mixture) to a pan and heat it until it’s simmering. Then add the pasta and stir continuously until the pasta is hot and the sauce is re-emulsified.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – I don’t have any leftover pasta water!

But fear not, I list a few substitutes you can use below.

The stove stop works well for reheating aglio e olio because you can have reasonable control over the heat. You can also stir the dish constantly, which is vital for successfully re-emulsifying the sauce. 

How to reheat aglio e olio in a pan:

  1. Add your reserved pasta water (or substitute – see below) to the pan and bring to a medium heat.
  2. 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.
  3. Take the pasta off the heat and serve immediately.

Use a wide-bottom pan so as much as the pasta touches the pan as possible. 

The pasta water contains starch which re-emulsifies the sauce and makes sure the pasta isn’t oily. The extra liquid also helps to re-moisturize what could be pretty dry pasta.

What can you substitute for pasta water?

If you’re reheating leftovers from the day before, you probably didn’t save any pasta water.

But that’s okay – you just need to make another water/starch/salt mixture (assuming you salted your pasta water).

You can use:

  • Potato starch, salt, and water
  • Corn starch, salt, and water

For proportions, use ¼-½ a teaspoon of cornstarch and a ¼ teaspoon of salt per cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil to activate the cornstarch, and it’s ready to use.

You can also nuke it in the microwave. 2 minutes, stir, and another 2 minutes will do the trick.

I would avoid anything to do with flour because you’re only going to be heating the pasta for a short time, and it might not be long enough to cook the raw flour flavor out.

If you really want to use flour, boil the mixture for at least 5 minutes before adding it to your pasta.

Another option is to boil a small amount of pasta or potatoes in some water and use that.

Top tip: next time you cook some pasta, save the water and make ice-cubes out of it. That way, you’ll always have a supply of pasta water for emergencies.

Can I just use water instead of pasta water?

It would be much easier if you could use water instead of pasta water, so I tested it.

It worked to an extent. The sauce definitely wasn’t as oily as the microwaved pasta, but it wasn’t as creamy as the pasta where I’d used starchy water. 

Overall, I’d say go for it if you don’t have any starch substitutes at home. 

Reheating aglio e olio in a double boiler

To reheat aglio e olio in a double boiler, first set up your double boiler by resting a glass or stainless steel bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Put the pasta in the bowl along with two tablespoons of water, stir continuously until it’s heated through.

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. There’s minimal risk of a sauce splitting in a double boiler.

How to reheat aglio e olio in a double boiler:

  1. Fill a saucepan with 2-3 inches of water and bring it to a simmer.
  2. Rest a glass or stainless steel bowl on top of the saucepan (making sure the bottom of it doesn’t touch the water).
  3. Add the pasta into the bowl along with 2 tablespoons of water (use pasta/starchy water if you have any!).
  4. Stir the pasta until the sauce has come together and is heated all the way through.

Note that a stainless steel bowl will heat faster than a glass one, so this method will be quicker with a metal bowl.

You have great control over the bowl’s temperature using this method, so it’s unlikely to get too hot and split your sauce.

Verdict

The double boiler worked well for my aglio e olio. The sauce stayed together and coated the pasta well. It was pretty quick too.

Reheating aglio e olio in the microwave

To reheat aglio e olio in the microwave, put it in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle two tablespoons of water over the pasta, and then cover it with some pierced plastic wrap. Heat the aglio e olio on high for 10 seconds. Take the pasta out and stir it. Repeat this cycle as many times as you need.

The microwave isn’t the best method for reheating aglio e oil because it’s likely to split the sauce.

But if you’re in a hurry or don’t have the option of a stove, then the microwave can be a lifesaver. You just need to treat the pasta with care.

How to reheat aglio e olio in the microwave:

  1. Put the pasta in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of water (leftover pasta water is great if you have it, but not essential).
  3. Cover the bowl with pierced plastic wrap or a microwave splatter plate.
  4. Heat the aglio e olio for 10 seconds.
  5. Take the bowl out and stir the pasta.
  6. 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 ensure 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.

But be aware that even with these precautions, it’s likely that the sauce will split and you’ll have oily pasta.

Make the most of it by having a slice of bread to mop up any leftover oil with!

Verdict

My sauce split in the microwave despite me being very cautious. It still tasted nice but was noticeably more oily than the other methods.

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 the steps below.

How to freeze aglio e olio:

  1. Wait for the agio e olio to cool to room temperature.
  2. Portion it out and put a single portion in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
  3. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can.
  4. Freeze the pasta for up to 3 months.

The Best Way To Reheat Aglio e Olio

Aglio e olio is such a simple, easy and delicious dish to prepare. But sometimes we just don’t have any time on our hands (I feel you).
Or maybe you’re like me and hate wasting food.
Whatever your reason, I’m here to show you the best methods of reheating aglio e olio so that it’s (almost) as good as the moment you cooked it.
I have experimented with countless different reheating methods, to find out what one delivers:
A perfectly emulsified sauce (no oily, split nastiness here).
Pasta that doesn’t feel like mush.
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Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person
Calories 319 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion leftover aglio e olio
  • 1 portion pasta water see article for substitutes

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 319kcal
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