Pasta alla Gricia (or Guanciale Pasta) is a classic Roman dish that’s great for weeknight dinners or anytime you’re craving a delicious, filling plate of pasta. The buttery and rich flavor from the cured pork cheek, combined with pecorino Romano’s nuttiness — and ready for serving as soon as your pasta is cooked! Enjoy!
(*This post contains some affiliate links)
Aside from spaghetti aglio e olio, this is one of my favorite pasta dishes to prepare in the middle of the night — when Im hungry, tired, and on auto-pilot mode.
Some would say pasta carbonara is better for midnight pasta, but nah. 🙂
Pasta all gricia vs. Carbonara
While both are traditional and iconic pasta dishes from Rome, they are different.
Let’s start with their similarities, both have:
- Pecorino Romano
- Ground black pepper
The only difference? Egg yolks.
Egg yolks add a delicious creaminess to carbonara, while pasta alla gricia only uses pasta water.
But it does not mean that one is more superior to the other. It all depends on what you are in the mood for.
IF YOU WANT MORE TRADITIONAL ITALIAN DISHES, THEN YOU WILL LIKE THESE POSTS!
- Pasta – I usually use a tubular type of pasta to prepare alla gricia, but feel free to use any variety of pasta you have on hand.
- Guanciale – chop this cured pork cheek into thin, tiny bits.
- Pecorino Romano – freshly grated pecorino Romano will be added during the last stage of cooking, as well as for serving.
- Black pepper – just use your favorite brand of ground black pepper.
- Peperoncino – while not traditionally used, you can add a pinch in there if you want a bit of heat in your guanciale pasta.
- Salt – is not included in the image above, but you need it to cook your pasta.
Start by boiling salted water for preparing the pasta (photo 1).
Prepare the pasta as per package instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, place the chopped guanciale in a medium to a large pan (photo 2).
Place the pan over medium heat.
Cook the guanciale until the fat turns translucent and the edges brown (photo 3).
The pasta should be ready by this time, so add it directly into the pan while draining the water (photo 4).
Add a bit of pasta water – no more than a quarter of a cup (photo 5).
Take the pan off the heat and add the grated cheese and some ground black pepper into your guanciale pasta (photo 6).
Mix and combine evenly.
Transfer into serving plates.
Enjoy your guanciale pasta with more freshly grated pecorino Romano and ground black pepper on top.
- Since the guanciale is already salty, I never add any salt as a seasoning to pasta alla gricia.
Plus, I make sure I use less salt for cooking the pasta — remember that you will be adding some pasta water to the dish.
- Feel free to add more pasta water if you think the dish is a bit dry.
- Do not hesitate to adjust the heat to low when the guanciale is getting dark too soon.
- If using peperoncino, add it with the cheese and black pepper once the pan is out of the heat.
- Pancetta. If you are having a hard time looking for guanciale, pancetta is an excellent alternative.
- Parmigiano Reggiano. Although slightly less creamy and less salty than Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano Reggiano is still a great substitute.
See how easy it is to prepare guanciale pasta? Give it a try one of these nights!
Pasta alla Gricia Recipe (Guanciale Pasta)
- 7 ounces pasta (200 grams)
- 3 ounces guanciale (85 grams), chopped into thin, tiny bits
- 1/2 to 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
- salt and ground black pepper, to season
- pinch peperoncino (or chili flakes), (optional)
- Prepare your pasta by boiling salted water and then cooking it as per the instruction in the package.
- While the pasta is cooking, place the guanciale in a medium to a large pan.
- Place the pan over medium heat.
- Cook the guanciale until the fat turns translucent and the edges darken in color.
- The pasta should be ready by this time, so add it directly into the pan.
- Add a bit of pasta water – no more than 1/4-cup, then mix to combine evenly.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the grated pecorino and ground black pepper.
- Transfer your pasta alla gricia into plates.
- Serve your guanciale pasta with more freshly grated pecorino Romano and ground black pepper on top.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Since the guanciale is already salty, there is no need to add any salt to pasta alla gricia. Furthermore, use less salt when boiling water for cooking the pasta — keep in mind that you will be adding some pasta water to the dish.
- Cook’s Tip #2: If using peperoncino, add it with the cheese and black pepper once the pan of guanciale pasta is out of the heat.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Feel free to adjust the heat to low when the guanciale gets dark too soon.
- Cook’s Tip #4: Do not hesitate to add more pasta water if you think your guanciale pasta is a bit dry.