Amatriciana Recipe - Classic Italian Pasta Dish with Cured Pig's Cheek


Amatriciana Recipe - Classic Italian Pasta Dish with Cured Pig's Cheek
Region / culture: Italy | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4



Amatriciana is a classic Italian pasta dish known for its rich, savory flavors that come from a simple yet perfect blend of ingredients. Originating from the town of Amatrice, this dish has become a staple in Italian cuisine, celebrated for its comforting taste and ease of preparation. The recipe combines cured pork, sharp cheese, and a tomato-based sauce, creating a meal that's both hearty and delicious. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a home cook, Amatriciana offers a delightful culinary experience that brings a taste of Italy to your table.


The origins of Amatriciana trace back to the small town of Amatrice in the Lazio region of Italy. Initially, the dish was prepared without tomatoes, known as "Gricia," and consisted mainly of guanciale (cured pork cheek), Pecorino cheese, and pasta. The addition of tomatoes came later, after the introduction of tomatoes to Europe from the Americas. This transformed the recipe into what we now recognize as Amatriciana. Over the years, it has become one of Italy's most beloved pasta dishes, with variations found in restaurants and homes across the country and beyond.


How to prepare

  1. In a pot, heat the olive oil. Add the clove of garlic and onions on low heat. Season with salt and chili flakes to taste. Saute slowly without browning for 10 minutes, stirring and mashing up the onions.
  2. Add guanciale or pancetta and cook for an additional 5 - 6 minutes.
  3. Remove the garlic clove and add tomatoes. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little pasta water.
  4. Toss the sauce with freshly cooked pasta (bucatini is recommended) and Parmesan cheese.


  • While the traditional Amatriciana recipe is beloved by many, there are several variations that can be made to suit different tastes or dietary needs:
  • Substitute bucatini pasta for spaghetti for a more authentic experience.
  • Use bacon or pancetta if guanciale is not available.
  • Add a sprinkle of fresh basil or parsley before serving for a fresh flavor.
  • For a vegetarian version, omit the pork and add more onions or some mushrooms for depth.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the best flavor and texture in your Amatriciana, consider the following tips:

- Use guanciale if possible, as it provides a unique flavor that is hard to replicate with other types of pork.

- Cook the onions and garlic slowly to allow their sweetness to develop without burning.

- Add a splash of the pasta cooking water to the sauce to help it cling to the pasta.

- Use high-quality canned tomatoes or, if in season, fresh ripe tomatoes for the best taste.

- Grate your Parmesan cheese freshly for a superior flavor and texture.

Serving Suggestions

Amatriciana is best served hot, directly after cooking. It pairs wonderfully with a simple side salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to cut through the richness of the sauce. For a complete Italian dining experience, serve with a glass of red wine, such as a Chianti or Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.

Cooking Techniques

The key techniques in making Amatriciana include sautéing the onions and garlic gently to avoid burning, rendering the fat from the pork to infuse the sauce with flavor, and simmering the tomato sauce to the perfect consistency. Mastery of these techniques ensures a delicious and authentic dish.

Ingredient Substitutions

Guanciale can be substituted with pancetta or bacon.

- Parmesan cheese can be replaced with Pecorino Romano for a sharper taste.

- In the absence of fresh tomatoes, high-quality canned tomatoes can be used.

Make Ahead Tips

The sauce for Amatriciana can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat gently before tossing with freshly cooked pasta.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Amatriciana in a warm pasta bowl, garnished with extra grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chili flakes for color and heat. A sprig of basil can add a touch of freshness and color.

Pairing Recommendations

Amatriciana pairs beautifully with medium-bodied red wines that can complement the richness of the sauce without overpowering it. A crisp, green salad on the side balances the meal.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Leftover Amatriciana can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a little water if the sauce has thickened too much.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A typical serving of Amatriciana contains approximately 400-500 calories. The exact calorie count can vary based on the specific ingredients used and portion sizes.


A serving of Amatriciana is primarily a source of carbohydrates, due to the pasta component of the dish. On average, a serving may contain approximately 45-60 grams of carbohydrates, depending on the type and amount of pasta used. Opting for whole wheat or alternative grain pastas can provide a more complex carbohydrate profile and additional fiber.


The fats in Amatriciana come mainly from the cured pork and the olive oil used in cooking. Guanciale is rich in both saturated and unsaturated fats. A serving of Amatriciana may contain about 10-15 grams of fat, with a mix of these fat types. Using less pork or opting for a leaner cut can reduce the fat content.


Proteins in this dish are provided by the cured pork and the Parmesan cheese. A serving of Amatriciana can offer around 15-20 grams of protein, making it a good source of this essential macronutrient. The quality of the protein is high, with a good balance of essential amino acids.

Vitamins and minerals

Amatriciana provides a range of vitamins and minerals, particularly from the tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Parmesan cheese contributes calcium and phosphorus, important for bone health, as well as B vitamins.


Common allergens in Amatriciana include dairy (from the Parmesan cheese) and gluten (from the pasta). Individuals with sensitivities to these ingredients should consider suitable substitutions.


Overall, Amatriciana is a balanced dish that provides carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals. While it is relatively high in calories, it can fit into a balanced diet when consumed in moderation and paired with a healthy lifestyle.


Amatriciana is a timeless Italian dish that combines simple ingredients into a flavorful and satisfying meal. With its rich history and versatility, it's a recipe that can be adapted to suit any taste or occasion. Whether you're looking for a comforting weeknight dinner or a dish to impress guests, Amatriciana is sure to delight.

How did I get this recipe?

The moment I found this recipe is etched in my memory. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting my dear friend Maria in the small town of Amatrice in Italy. Maria was known for her incredible cooking skills, and she had promised to teach me how to make one of her signature dishes - Amatriciana.

As we entered Maria's cozy kitchen, the scent of garlic and tomatoes filled the air. I could hear the sizzle of pancetta crisping up in the pan and my mouth began to water in anticipation. Maria smiled at me and handed me a glass of red wine, a tradition in her family whenever they cooked together.

I watched as Maria expertly chopped onions and garlic, adding them to the pan with the pancetta. The aroma was intoxicating, and I could hardly contain my excitement. She then poured in a can of peeled tomatoes and a pinch of red pepper flakes, letting the sauce simmer and thicken.

As we waited for the sauce to cook, Maria began to tell me about the history of the dish. She explained that Amatriciana originated in the town of Amatrice, a small village in the mountains of central Italy. It was a simple yet delicious pasta sauce made with pancetta, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese.

Maria had learned the recipe from her own grandmother, who had passed it down through the generations. She told me stories of how her grandmother would spend hours in the kitchen, carefully preparing each ingredient with love and care. The recipe was a family heirloom, and Maria was proud to continue the tradition.

After the sauce had simmered to perfection, Maria cooked up a pot of spaghetti al dente and tossed it in the pan with the Amatriciana sauce. She then sprinkled a generous amount of grated pecorino cheese on top and gently stirred it all together.

As we sat down to eat, Maria poured us each another glass of wine and we dug into the steaming bowl of pasta. The flavors were incredible - the salty pancetta, the tangy tomatoes, and the sharp cheese all melded together in perfect harmony. It was like nothing I had ever tasted before.

I savored each bite, feeling grateful to have learned this recipe from my dear friend Maria. She had opened up a whole new world of Italian cooking to me, and I knew that I would cherish this recipe for years to come.

Since that day in Maria's kitchen, I have made Amatriciana countless times for my family and friends. Each time I cook it, I think of Maria and the special bond we share through our love of food. The recipe has become a staple in my repertoire, a taste of Italy that I can share with those I love.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn this recipe, and I will always hold onto the memories of that warm summer day in Amatrice. Cooking Amatriciana brings me back to that moment, and I am reminded of the power of food to connect us to our past and to the people we love. It is a dish that will always hold a special place in my heart, a reminder of the beauty and joy that can be found in a simple bowl of pasta.


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