Pasta

Pasta alla Gricia

June 11, 2020 by Emily

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Pasta alla Gricia is a super easy and classic pasta dish from Lazio, Italy. Although simple there’s no compromise in flavour and it’s perfect for whipping up on a busy weeknight, Buon Appetitio!

An overhead shot of rigatoni pasta with guanciale on a plate

Pasta alla Gricia is another beautiful Lazian pasta dish made with just 4 ingredients!

It’s the base for another two famous Italian pasta dishes; add egg and it becomes Pasta Carbonara, add tomato and white wine and it becomes Pasta all’ Amatriciana, interesting right?

Although it’s simple, don’t let the few ingredients fool you, this pasta dish is famous for a good reason, it is DELICIOUS!

Ingredients you need

All you need is; dried pasta (rigatoni or spaghetti is more traditional), Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly cracked black pepper and guanciale (Italian cured pork jowl). See the photo below that shows all the ingredients you need.

An overhead shot of the ingredients you need to make pasta alla gricia

Guanciale is a pretty essential ingredient needed to make this dish because it’s the glorious fat that adds so much flavour and creates such a creamy and delicious pasta sauce.

You should be able to find guanciale at any Italian speciality food store but if not you could use pancetta or bacon.

Bear in mind that pancetta or bacon will have a much milder flavour so the end result won’t quite be the same.

How to make Pasta alla Gricia – Step by Step

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente (around 8-9 minutes check your packet instructions).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or frying pan and cook the guanciale for a few minutes until crispy. You won’t need any oil because it will cook in the fat that’s released (photos 1-4).

Step by step photos showing how to fry guanciale

Once the pasta is cooked reserve ¼ cup (60ml) of pasta water, drain the pasta then add to the skillet with the guanciale.

Add the pasta water, pecorino, black pepper and stir until the pasta is completely coated in the sauce (photos 5-8).

Step by step photos showing how to make pasta alla gricia

If the pasta seems too dry (for example if you used bacon and there wasn’t much fat) add an extra splash of pasta water. Serve with extra pepper and pecorino if desired.

Top tips and recipe FAQs

  • Preparing in advance – There’s no need to prepare this recipe in advance it’s so quick and easy it takes no more than 10 minutes.
  • No guanciale? you can also use pancetta or bacon but try to make sure they are on the fattier side and not lean cuts.
  • Leftovers – The pasta is best eaten immediately because the sauce is made from the guanciale and pasta water it’s best eaten while it’s still warm.
The difference between Pasta alla Gricia and Carbonara

The difference between these two Italian pasta dishes is the egg. Carbonara is made with freshly beaten egg and Gricia isn’t everything else remains the same.

What’s the best pasta to use?

Traditionally rigatoni or spaghetti is used when making Pasta alla Gricia but you could use another short pasta shape.

A side shot of Pasta alla Gricia on a plate

More Easy Italian pasta recipes you might like

If you tried this Pasta alla Gricia recipe or any other recipes on the blog please be sure to leave me a comment below to let me know how you got on, I love hearing from you. You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
A square photo of pasta alla gricia
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5 from 1 vote

Pasta alla Gricia

Pasta alla Gricia is a super easy and classic pasta dish from Lazio, Italy. Although simple there's no compromise in flavour and it's perfect for whipping up on a busy weeknight, Buon Appetitio!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 540kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rigatoni or other dried pasta (14 oz / 400g)
  • 1 cup guanciale cut into cubes (150g)
  • ½ cup pecorino freshly grated
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente (around 8-9 minutes check your packet instructions).
  • Heat a large skillet or frying pan and cook the guanciale for a few minutes until crispy. You won’t need any oil because it will cook in the fat that’s released.
  • Once the pasta is cooked reserve ¼ cup (60ml) of pasta water, drain the pasta then add to the skillet with the guanciale.
  • Add the pasta water, pecorino, black pepper and stir until the pasta is completely coated in the sauce.
  • If the pasta seems too dry (for example if you used bacon and there wasn't much fat) add an extra splash of pasta water. Serve with extra pepper and pecorino if desired.

Notes

  • Preparing in advance – There’s no need to prepare this recipe in advance it’s so quick and easy it takes no more than 10 minutes.
  • No guanciale? you can also use pancetta or bacon but try to make sure they are on the fattier side and not lean cuts.
  • Leftovers – The pasta is best eaten immediately because the sauce is made from the guanciale and pasta water it’s best eaten while it’s still warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 475mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 52IU | Calcium: 146mg | Iron: 1mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Angela
    June 23, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    Oh this looks so tasty! and proves you don’t need lots of ingredients to make something delicious, just a couple of great ones! Must try this asap!5 stars

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