Spaghetti With Garlicky Bread Crumbs and Anchovies Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Spaghetti With Garlicky Bread Crumbs and Anchovies Recipe (1)

Total Time
30 minutes
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This is a take on a classic dish from Southern Italy that tosses pasta with toasted, seasoned bread crumbs called pangrattatto. In this version, the bread crumbs are sautéed in olive oil with garlic and anchovies until golden and crisp, and the pasta is coated with egg yolks, hot sauce and Asian fish sauce for creaminess and depth. You can make the bread crumbs up to 3 hours ahead; longer than that and you risk letting them go soggy. Use good-quality bread crumbs here, either homemade or purchased from a bakery. The next best choice is panko, Japanese bread crumbs that you can find in large supermarkets. If you have any of the pangrattatto mixture left over, store it in the refrigerator and give it a brief sauté to revive it before using.

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Yield:4 servings

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 12anchovies, chopped
  • 6garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1cup good dried bread crumbs
  • Black pepper and kosher salt, as needed
  • 1pound spaghetti
  • 2egg yolks
  • 1tablespoon Asian fish sauce (optional)
  • 1teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste
  • ½cup roughly chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

747 calories; 24 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 15 grams monounsaturated fat; 4 grams polyunsaturated fat; 107 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 24 grams protein; 1014 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Spaghetti With Garlicky Bread Crumbs and Anchovies Recipe (2)


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  1. Step


    In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in bread crumbs and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Season liberally with black pepper, and a little salt if needed.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package instructions; drain well, reserving some of the pasta water (about ½ cup is plenty).

  3. Step


    In a large, preferably warmed bowl, stir together egg yolks, fish sauce, hot sauce and 2 tablespoons pasta water. Add hot pasta and toss well, adding more pasta water if the mixture looks dry or unevenly yellow. You want the yolk to evenly coat the pasta but you don’t want it to be soupy. Add bread crumb mixture and parsley and toss well. Season with plenty of black pepper, and salt to taste. Drizzle pasta with more oil just before serving and serve with lemon wedges.



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Cooking Notes


This is a great recipe. The only problem I had with it was that I wanted my homemade bread crumbs to have a slight crunch to them. When I added a bit of pasta water to the bowl, the bread crumbs became mushy. Next time, I'll add the water first and put the bread crumbs in last and I think it will be perfect.


The pot in which the pasta was cooked makes a great substitute for the warmed bowl.


Our modified version of this was a big hit. We started with the recipe and added olives and a can of good oil-packed tuna, omitting the fish sauce. Didn't have parsley so we tossed with a cup of chopped baby arugula.


Loved by all at the table. No fish eaters here so I used 24 kalamata olives (minced) instead of anchovies, left out the fish sauce, and put a salt shaker on the table instead of adding salt to the recipe. Would add more garlic and bread crumbs next time as those crunchy bits were the best part.


Great recipe. I've now made it twice. One suggestion. Any recipe (like this one) that uses an inherently salty ingredient (in this case, anchovies) ought to carry some kind of warning on the "salt and pepper" line or in a note at the end. I found this pretty salty and certainly wouldn't want to add any salt. Great video, especially because it emphasizes the importance of the breadcrumbs.

Annie V

Outstanding! Made a quarter of the recipe (cooking for one) but still used 1 whole yolk and a full T of water. Don't be afraid of the fish sauce and hot sauce -- the flavor is amazing. I only had panko on hand, and the crumbs got soggy. Traditional or homemade crumbs would be better. Left off the lemon wedges, but love another reviewer's idea to add lots of lime juice. Used basil instead of parsley -- arugula would be awesome too. With some steamed broccoli with parmesan, a great meal!!!

naomi dagen bloom

Oil-packed tuna instead of anchovies appeals here.

Jeff Winett

If reincarnation exists, clearly Melissa Clark comes from many lifetimes of Italian heritage no matter how she identifies her lineage today. I had my way with this dish last night, and it was a stunner. Actually mind evoked a classic pasta with Bottarga, but with more satisfaction in every bite. I used a full 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and used 2 tsp. of the fish sauce, rather than a full tablespoon. Elusive umami flavors abounded. Kudos and thanks to M.C. for sharing this.


I grew up eating spaghetti with anchovies, red pepper flakes, garlic and parsley. Not sure the extra work here is worth the effort. First attempt was dry without much added flavor. I'll try it again and add more pasta water.


Excellent quick pasta dish. Be sure to use the fish sauce. Lots of lime juice is good. Make crumbs from dark flavorful bread and toast them well.


I have made this several times and it is delicious. I added some halved small tomatoes for color and another time some pancetta as well. I stir in the bread crumbs right before serving. I have served this as part of a buffet so it had cooled to room temp by the time everyone was served and it was still great.


No eggs on hand - substituted two tbs. mayonnaise. Coated the pasta quite well (and eliminated any "raw egg" concerns.)


Loved this pasta dish, great for a Friday in Lent. Followed the recipe, but added little more olive oil and pasta water for a better consistency. Then added the crumbs and parsley,for a good crunch.


I love this recipe as well. I always rinse anchovies (I love them and use them in many dishes). I also really like Amanda Hesser's recipe ( which adds tomato extract.


I'm inspired here to use an egg yolk to cream up other pasta dishes without cream.

Lisa LoCascio

The perfect lenten no-meat dish for Ash Wednesday and Saint Joseph's Feast Day (March 19th), the breadcrumbs are symbolic of Saint Joseph's beard. In my Sicilian family, this dish favorite is usually the star of Saint Joseph's table, with the breadcrumbs symbolizing Saint Joseph's beard.


The Italian side of my family shares your last name, most have long passed away and the recipes along with them. I recall my grandma making something similar to this..and I think it was just one of her many "just because dishes" , when i was young, i just know she pretty much fed me non-stop, so a bit is blurry--but with elbow macacroni. Does that ring a bell? I make a version similar to melissa's often & it has also fed me when I was young & single


Deliciously terrific! Made half the pasta (for two) but used almost a full recipe of aromatics. Used a whole egg since I didn’t want to toss one white or save it for other use, and recipe worked just fine. Followed other suggestions by tossing in the crumbs at the end; they stayed crispy and just right. Used homemade dried crumbs and fresh parsley from the winter garden!


I made a double recipe of this and kept one quarter of it and gave the rest to a friend’s family with 4 kids. Due to icy weather I couldn’t get it to them for a couple of days. I kept it refrigerated, with the bread crumbs/herbs separated. She was so surprised that the spaghetti didn’t come out as one clumpy mess. I assume the egg coating was at least partially responsible for that. I had noticed that myself because we ate leftovers the next day and the spaghetti was nice and loose.


Cucina povera at its best! Absolutely delicious! Made as written except to try to prevent bread crumbs from becoming soggy, I crisped them 1st in 2 T of evoo, put them aside while I sauted the garlic, anchovies, etc. Then added the crispy crumbs in w the garlic, etc. for more crisping action. That pasta water is truly essential and the lemon at the end. I threw some zest in too . Divinity in a bowl!


I used panko breadcrumbs because that’s all I had on hand & unfortunately, the final product was a clumpy, wet, mush. Panko responds so well to baking and frying but in this application I must disagree with Melissa—I didn’t find it to be a suitable substitute to homemade or store bought.


I love this recipe but followed directions from another Melissa Clark recipe from her cookbook, Dinner Changing the Game. There she melts the anchovies in butter and adds lemon zest, browns the panko bread crumbs in oil (separately from anchovy butter) and drops the cooked pasta in with the butter and then tops with the bread crumbs. Easy to modify this recipe so that you get the really crunchy crumbs at the end and still have all that amazing anchovy butter with a bit of lemon


I too toast bread crumbs separately from the anchovies, etc and it comes out really well. Add a bit of zest too for extra zip!


Easy, flexible and tasty. I substituted canned mackerel for the anchovies and chinese celery greens for the parsley and it worked well.


Delicious, simple and works well in smaller portions - I did a half-recipe except upped the panko a bit.


A. Pretty good for something fast and easy.


Used 4 eggs, twice as much fish sauce, and liberal pasta water. Came out great.


I wanted to love this but the end product was dry and surprisingly had a very mellow flavor. I added more pasta water than what the recipe called for and at first the egg coated the pasta nicely but as soon as you add the bread crumbs- everything dries up. I didn’t continue to add more pasta water because other reviews mentioned that made the crumbs soggy. Unmemorable over all.


Delicious and easy! No need to chop the anchovies. They dissolve in the oil. Used Kenji’s technique for cooking pasta in a skillet to save time. Otherwise followed the recipe exactly (plus grated parmesan). My kids were suspicious when they saw the fish sauce, but they gobbled it up. All of the flavors come together well.


Very tasty, but a little dry. Next time will be less conservative with the pasta water. Fish sauce is definitely a worthwhile addition!


Definitely need more sauce for this - more yolk and fish sauce - with that correction, this is very delicious and an excellent flavor combination.


So delicious. We skipped the egg sauce part, sautéed some cherry tomatoes in olive oil instead. Tossed that with the pasta, pasta water, parsley and parmesan. Squeeze of lemon and bread crumbs on top. Heavenly.

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Spaghetti With Garlicky Bread Crumbs and Anchovies Recipe (2024)
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