How to cook Pasta alla Amatriciana –

When it comes to classical pasta recipes, the Romans have it totally covered. They own the ‘cacio e pepe, the ‘carbonara‘, alla gricia (it’s like a carbonara but without the egg). However, it wasn’t until my trip last year to this spectacular capital city, that I totally fell in love and became obsessed with ‘pasta all Amatriciana‘.

A rich tomato-based sauce, cooked with guanciale (pig cheek) and wine, served with generous amounts of grated salty pecorino cheese. I think I ate it at least 5 times during my 7-day stay. I mean, when I say I loved it, I loved it.

Below, I am sharing with you my version of this incredibly simple, easy but highly delicious pasta dish. Guanciale is hard to come by in the UK unless your local Italian deli stocks it. So, I suggest using pancetta instead, or even bacon lardons as an alternative. The same goes with the pecorino. It’s not always easy to get hold of. So in that case use grated parmesan instead.

If you would like to watch the full recipe video, head over to my youtube channel.

Rigatoni all' Amatriciana

Pasta all amatriciana (2 hungry people)

  • 200g guanciale or pancetta

  • 75ml dry white wine

  • 1 x 400g tin peeled tomatoes

  • 50g pecorino romano, (or parmesan) grated

  • 250g rigatoni or spaghetti


  • Fry and render the Guanciale or pancetta with no oil on low heat. When rendered it will release its own oil into the pan.
  • Next, pour in the white wine, turn the heat up to to medium and cook until the alcohol has evaporated.
  • Add in the whole tin of tomatoes. Chop them up and add 1/3 tin of water. Cook for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cook your pasta has instructed in the packet.
  • When the pasta has cooked, drain and add straight into the tomato Guanciale sauce. Stir everything together until the pasta is well coated.
  • Add half the pecorino cheese and stir into the sauce until its melted in.
  • Serve immediately.


  1. Try not to add any additional cooking oil as a) it will take away some of the natural flavour from the pork fat, b) it will make the dish extra oily which will make it unpleasant to eat.
  2. White wine adds a beautiful flavour profile, so add when possible.
  3. Always use tinned rather than fresh as it will create more of a saucy tomato base which is what this dish needs.
  4. Rigatoni or spaghetti go beautifully with this sauce.
  5. Reserve some pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce. Sometimes the starch from the pasta can absorb the sauce, leaving it a little bit dry. So a little pasta water help out the sauce.
  6. Adding the cheese into the pasta will give the overall dish another great layer of flavour rather than sprinkling it on top.


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