Bagna Cauda

Bagna Càuda

Ingredient For Four For Four
garlic 1 head 1 head
extra-virgin olive oil ¾ cup 180 - 200 ml
anchovies 1 can (2 oz.) 1 can (56g)
milk as needed as needed
heavy cream ⅓ cup 100 ml

Bagna Càuda (also spelled bagna caôda) is a regional Italian specialty similar to fondue; it consists of a bowl or pot of rich, warm fish sauce into which vegetables are dipped. This version relies on anchovies to give it a salty flavor with slightly fishy overtones. Between the anchovies and the garlic you’ll certainly smell it cooking, but the actual sauce isn’t as pungent as that might lead you to believe; it’s smooth and relatively mild. In addition to the traditional vegetables — cauliflower is a particularly good fit — you can of course dip meat, bread, or anything else in it.


  1. Peel the garlic cloves and cut each in half lengthwise. If the garlic has started to sprout, remove the sprouting core of each.


  1. Cook garlic.
    Put the garlic in a small pan and add enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil, then let cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Drain water and add enough milk to cover the cloves, then let simmer until the garlic is soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and discard milk, as its only purpose is to mellow the garlic.
  2. Chop ingredients.
    Chop garlic very finely, until it is almost a paste. Drain anchovies and chop to a similar consistency.
  3. Cook anchovies.
    Mix 50 ml (one quarter cup) of olive oil and the anchovies in the pan. Cook over medium heat — hot enough for the anchovies to sizzle — for 3 to 4 minutes, to reduce the fishy smell.
  4. Cook garlic.
    Add the garlic to the oil and cook briefly, stirring, then add the remaining olive oil. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Blend in cream.
    Add the heavy cream and stir briskly with a whisk until thoroughly blended; be careful not to overcook it. Remove from heat once blended.
  6. Serve.
    Serve warm in small dipping dishes with a plate of vegetables sliced into dippable pieces.


Bagna Cauda sauce without the cream
  • You can dip any kind of vegetable in the sauce, fresh or cooked. Some good bets are uncooked carrot sticks, lightly boiled broccoli or cauliflower, and asparagus; cauliflower is a particularly good match due to its mild flavor and ability to pick up lots of sauce. Other good options are chunks of baked potato or squash, as are seafood or crusty bread.
  • Bagna Càuda sauce also makes a good pasta sauce for angel hair or spaghetti.
  • If you prepare it without the heavy cream, it will keep for about a month in the refrigerator; heat and blend in heavy cream when you’re ready to use it. You can also omit the heavy cream entirely for a somewhat lighter version, as shown above.
  • The ratio of ingredients isn’t precise; you can add more or less cream, oil, or anchovies to suit your taste.
  • While Bagna Càuda is properly served in small heated pots, one per person, you can of course use a central fondue pot, or if you don’t have any of the above, do what we do and just divide the warm sauce into unheated cups.