Pasta all’ Amatriciana

Pasta all’ Amatriciana

Let’s discover the secrets of one of the most famous pasta dishes of Italian cuisine.

Today we will discover the original recipe of Pasta all’ Amatriciana. A classic dish of Italian gastronomic tradition, a true symbol of our culinary culture all over the world.

Before starting, let’s try to understand what amatriciana is.

Amatriciana is one of the most famous and traditional Italian sauce for pasta.

An ancient and simple sauce made with typical products of the mountains of central Italy. Guanciale (cured pork cheek), Pecorino cheese, tomatoes, red chili and a splash of white wine.

The origins of Pasta all’ Amatriciana.

Regional dishes are often a cause of dispute between Italians, whether they are professional chefs or amateur cooks, and the recipe for Amatriciana is no exception!

Many people claim that amatriciana sauce is a typical recipe of the Roman tradition like Spaghetti alla Carbonara or Penne all’ Arrabbiata. Others claim that it is not.

To clarify this doubt, let’s find out where the original recipe comes from.

Let’s go to Amatrice: a small town in the province of Rieti about 87 miles northeast of Rome, on the border between the regions of Lazio and Abruzzo.

According to tradition, it is in this small town on the Apennine mountains that the amatriciana sauce recipe was born many centuries ago.

In the 16th century, many shepherds who lived in the Amatrice mountains carried in their saddlebag the ingredients necessary to prepare their meals during the long days of work in the pastures, such as cured pork cheek, dried pasta, pecorino cheese, and pepper.

pasta alla gricia
Pasta alla Gricia

When tomatoes arrived in Europe in the 18th century, a chef from Amatrice, trying to give a little color to Pasta alla Gricia, added tomatoes to the recipe.


The amatriciana sauce that we all know was born.

The differences between Amatrice and Roman recipes?

Both sauces are similar, they use the same ingredients, except for the addition of onion in the Roman recipe.

The main difference between the two recipes of amatriciana is pasta. The Roman recipe is almost always served with bucatini (thick spaghetti with a hole through the center).

Amatrice’s original recipe, instead, is served only with spaghetti, this is why Amatrice is called ” City of Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana. ( see here )

I can say that both kinds of pasta work very well with this sauce, both are so yummy!

The 5 mistakes to avoid to get a perfect Pasta all’ Amatriciana.

No Pancetta. Guanciale and Pancetta are not the same things. Guanciale has two parts of fat and one of meat and has a sweet taste, perfect to balance the flavor of the Pecorino Romano.

According to the original recipe, the right ratio between pasta and guanciale is 25%. E.g. For 500 grams of pasta, you will need at least 125 grams of guanciale.

If you prefer to use Pancetta, you are free to do it. However, I recommend using the unsmoked one.

For sure you will get a tasty dish, but know that it will never be the real Amatriciana recipe.

No Parmesan or any other cheese. Use only Pecorino Romano.

Pecorino Romano has a salty and slightly spicy taste that gives the right contrast to the sweetness of the guanciale.

No tomato puree. Use fresh ripe peeled tomatoes when it is possible, or canned whole peeled San Marzano


No garlic and no onions. We find onions only in the roman recipe, not in the original one.

Do not use random pasta. The original recipe involves the use of spaghetti, the use of bucatini is a custom, especially around Rome. Other formats? I don’t recommend them!

Use a good quality of pasta, it would be a pity to ruin such a tasty dish using low-quality pasta.

How to prepare the real Amatriciana pasta recipe.

Cut guanciale into slices, remove the skin then cut into small strips. Do not dice it as in the spaghetti carbonara recipe.

cutting guanciale for pasta all'amatriciana

Crush the whole peeled tomatoes with your hands or cut them with a knife.

cutting tomatoes

Heat a pan (better if in iron) over medium heat with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh red chili pepper or chili flakes (optional). Do not add more oil because the pork cheek is already fatty.

browning guanciale

Add the pork cheek and brown it until crunchy, then add the white wine and let it evaporate.

Add the tomatoes, season with a little salt (remember that pecorino cheese is salty) and cook at low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

amatriciana sauce ready

Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in abundant salted water.

When the sauce is cooked and slightly thick, stir the pasta in the pan with the sauce adding grated pecorino cheese.

mixing pasta with sauce

Mix well and serve sprinkling an extra spoonful of Pecorino cheese.

I also suggest accompanying this delicious pasta dish with a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine.

In this post, I told the story of the original amatriciana recipe. I also explained the fundamental ingredients and the mistakes do not make to prepare the perfect recipe for pasta amatriciana.

Now it’s your turn!

Follow my advice, the recipe and the video tutorial below. You will able to make the original Pasta all’ Amatriciana, bringing a bit of Italian gastronomic history to your table.

Original Italian recipe of Spaghetti all'Amatriciana.

An ancient and simple traditional pasta dish of Italian cuisine.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Pasta all'Amatriciana
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 535kcal
Author Salvo


  • 500 gr. Spaghetti
  • 125 gr Guanciale ( Cured pork cheek )
  • 400 gr. Canned whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 80 gr Grated Pecorino Romano
  • 50 ml. Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Red chili pepper or a pinch of chili flakes
  • Salt


  • Remove the skin from the guanciale and cut it into slices 1 cm thick, then cut it into strips.
    cutting guanciale for pasta all'amatriciana
  • Crush the tomatoes with your hands or cut them with a knife.
    cutting tomatoes
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, add the guanciale and the red chili pepper.
  • Fry the guanciale, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the white fat has become transparent and golden and slightly crunchy (about 5-8 minutes).
    browning guanciale
  • Add the white wine and let it evaporate.
  • Add the tomatoes with all their sauce and season with a little salt (consider that the Pecorino cheese is quite salty).
  • Let the sauce cook at medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes.
  • When the sauce is ready and has become lightly thick, remove the chili and set aside the sauce.
    amatriciana sauce ready
  • Cook the spaghetti in abundant salted water, following the cooking time, indicated on the package ( about 12 minutes ). I recommend using a good quality pasta.
  • Drain the spaghetti al dente and pour them into the pan with the sauce.
  • Stir the pasta in the sauce keeping the pan over low heat.
  • Turn off the heat, continue to stir and add the grated Pecorino cheese in order to bind all the ingredients.
    mixing pasta with sauce
  • The original spaghetti all' Amatriciana is ready, serve immediately, with a sprinkling of more grated Pecorino cheese.



Remember to use high-quality ingredients, it would be a shame to ruin the dish using low-quality ingredients.


4 thoughts on “Pasta all’ Amatriciana”

  • I cannot find pork cheek – did find pork belly- Pancetta is also available- which is the better substitute pork belly or pancetta?

    • Hello Sherry,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I understand that it may be difficult to find it, it also depends on which country you live in.
      However, forget pork belly, the best substitute is unsmoked flat Pancetta.
      I guarantee that the dish will be tasty even if it won’t be the original recipe.
      Try and let me know. I’ll do my best to help you.

  • 5 stars
    Good quality guanciale, roma tomatoes from the garden, and your fantastic recipe! Perfect! Gratzie!

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