Bucatini All’Amatriciana is a classic Roman pasta dish, and certainly a favorite in our house. This dish was taught to me from a chef from Rome, the best ex-boss I’ll ever have.
There are a number of different ways to make Bucatini All’Amatriciana, but this is my favorite iteration, which also happens to be the simplest and quickest version. All you need is five ingredients and about 30 minutes of your time.
- Bucatini: This is a long, thin tubular pasta also known as perciatelli. Feel free to substitute spaghetti, linguine or fettucine. I would personally sub out with rigatoni even though it’s an entirely different shape.
- Guanciale: This is cured pork cheek or jowl. It’s considerably fattier than pancetta and also spiced differently. Substituting this for another ingredient would significantly change the dish in my opinion, however, if you can only find a chunk or pancetta or slab bacon, those will be tasty too. I would probably add about 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the sauce if I were to use pancetta to compensate for the difference in fat.
- Tomatoes: The type of fresh tomato you use is less important than the quality. Go for the ripest, sweetest tomatoes you can find. Remember they will ripen further on your counter if you don’t use them immediately. I usually use compari tomatoes, because they’re very sweet and I enjoy the flesh to juice ratio. My second choice would probably be canned, San Marzano tomatoes in the same volume with only a little of the juice from the can. If you can find really great plum tomatoes or vine-ripe tomatoes, I would give those a try. For a smoother sauce, you can blanch, shock and peel the tomatoes first. Grape or cherry tomatoes would certainly also be sweet and tasty, albeit further from tradition.
- Pecorino romano: Pecorino cheese is traditional in this dish and provides a tangy, salty bite. You can also use parmigiano reggiano or domestic parmesan, which is more on the nutty side.
Step by Step Process
Bucatini All’Amatriciana comes together so quickly and easily. Heat up a pot of water to cook the pasta in, and start rendering the guanciale (1).
Once the pork starts to crisp up, add red pepper flakes (2), followed by the tomatoes (3-4). Then start cooking the pasta. The sauce and pasta will be ready around the same time.
Finish off the sauce with a little pecorino cheese and serve with a grating of cheese over the top. Mangia!
Recipe Tips and FAQs
- If you can’t find great quality fresh tomatoes, use canned San Marzano tomatoes. In this case, I’d cook the sauce for about 20-30 minutes or until the flavor develops properly. Canned tomatoes definitely need longer cooking time than fresh tomatoes.
- If you substitute pancetta for guanciale, add a 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, to taste, in the sauce to make up for the missing richness.
- Try adding sliced onions. Red onions are another common ingredient in this dish. I would cut the onions into paper thin slices and add them to the pan after the guanciale renders. Try sautéing them until translucent, 5 minutes or so, and then add the tomatoes.
Check the package instructions and start checking for doneness 2 minutes prior to recommended cooking time, about 9-12 minutes. Cook until slightly short of al’dente as pasta will continue cooking in the sauce.
Many people use red or white onions in Bucatini All’Amatriciana, however, I typically don’t add onions.
More Tasty Pasta Recipes
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta
- Spaghetti Bolognese
- Ramp Pasta
- Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto
- Pasta with Peas and Pancetta
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Bucatini All’Amatriciana is a classic Roman pasta dish. My version requires only five ingredients and about 30 minutes!
- 8oz bucatini or perciatelli pasta*
- 3oz guanciale, sliced into 1/8–1/4 inch thick slices, 3/4 in long*
- 1–2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes*
- 12oz fresh compari tomatoes, sliced into 8 wedges, or tomatoes of choice (about 1 1/2 cup, chopped)
- 2 tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving*
- Kosher salt
- Boil water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt generously so the water tastes like sea water. Keep warm until ready to cook pasta.
- Cook pork. Add sliced guanciale to a large, nonstick pan. Turn heat to medium. Cook until fat renders and guanciale starts to crisp up, about 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through. Reduce heat, as needed, to prevent burning. Add red pepper flakes and toast about 30 seconds.
- Cook tomatoes. Add sliced (or chopped) tomatoes to pan. Season with salt. Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened and juices are released.
- Cook pasta. While tomatoes cook, add pasta to pot of boiling water. Cook about 1-2 minutes shy of perfectly al’dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Finish pasta in sauce. Add pasta to pan with sauce and about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta cooking water. Toss with sauce over medium heat until thickened to desired consistency. Shut off heat and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.
- Serve. Transfer to serving bowls and top with additional grated cheese. Enjoy.
- You can easily double or triple the ingredients in this dish to serve more people.
- Other pasta shapes I would suggest include rigatoni, spaghetti, linguine and fettucine.
- Substitute guanciale with pancetta or bacon, if needed. If using pancetta which is leaner than guanciale, consider adding 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to sauce for additional richness.
- I like to use small (3/4 inch long), whole dried chilies because they tend to be more potent and flavorful than pre-crushed red pepper flakes, but either ingredient works well. If you’re using a whole, dried chili crush with your fingers as you add it to the pan.
- Use the ripest, sweetest tomatoes you can find. If you can find really great plum tomatoes or vine-ripe tomatoes, I would give those a try. For a smoother sauce, you can blanch, shock and peel the tomatoes first. Grape or cherry tomatoes would certainly also be sweet and tasty, albeit further from tradition.
- If you can’t find great fresh tomatoes, use about 4 whole, San Marzano tomatoes from a can. Crush them with your hands before adding to the pan. Cook the sauce about 20-30 minutes to properly develop the flavor of the canned tomatoes.
- Substitute parmigiano reggiano or domestic parmesan for pecorino, if needed
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Saute, Boil
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: 1/3 of pasta
- Calories: 490
- Sugar: 5
- Sodium: 390
- Fat: 19
- Saturated Fat: 7
- Unsaturated Fat: 12
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 61
- Fiber: 3.5
- Protein: 18
- Cholesterol: 35
Keywords: bucatini all’amatriciana, pasta all’amatriciana, amatriciana sauce