Bucatini Amatriciana is a Roman-style pasta that's made with just a few simple ingredients. Traditionally made with guanciale, our recipe gives you the option to use the more accessible pancetta, which is combined with tomato, white wine, red chili flakes, and tossed with al dente pasta, and plenty of Pecorino Romano cheese.
Editor’s Note: Originally Published on October 23, 2018. Updated with full process shots and expanded info.
I have always admired the simplicity of the 4 Roman pastas. Amatriciana, Carbonara, Alla Gricia, and Cacio e Pepe are prime examples of true Italian cuisine and highlight its tenets that less is more, and ingredients are everything.
With just one exception, this recipe for Bucatini Amatriciana is true to the Roman recipe.
The exception we've made here is with guanciale. Guanciale is a non-smoked cured meat that's derived from pork jowls and is traditionally used as the fat and flavor in pasta Amatriciana.
Note: In the accompanying video I used guanciale but use whichever you can find.
For this recipe, we use pancetta as it is more widely available and is slightly more economical.
The rest of the recipe holds true to the Roman recipe and includes bucatini pasta, peeled whole plum tomatoes (canned), white wine, red pepper flakes, and Pecorino Romano.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Dice 6 ounces of pancetta, or guanciale. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (2 tablespoons of kosher salt per gallon of water).
- Using your hands, crush the tomatoes from one 28-ounce can of whole peeled plum tomatoes. You can also use crushed plum tomatoes.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and saute the pancetta in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for 7-8 minutes or until most of the fat has been rendered and the pancetta is slightly crisp.
- Using a slotted spoon, move half the pancetta to a plate and set it aside for later.
- Add 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and add a ½ cup of dry white wine to deglaze the pan and cook until it reduces by about half.
- Add 1 pound of bucatini (or spaghetti, etc) to the boiling water and cook the pasta to 1 minute less than al dente. Make sure to reserve 1 cup of pasta water although you may not need it all. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and cook on medium until they start to bubble.
- Keep the sauce simmering and cook uncovered while boiling the pasta. Give it a taste test and add salt and pepper to taste but keep in mind that you will be adding salty Pecorino Romano and salty pasta water so additional salt may not be needed.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and cook until the pasta reaches al dente (about 1 minute). Give it a stir and make sure the pasta is absorbing the sauce.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Add a touch more pasta water if the pasta is too dry. Serve in bowls and top with the reserved crispy pancetta and more Pecorino if desired. Enjoy!
Top tips for bucatini Amatriciana
- The fat. As mentioned above, for this recipe we've chosen to use pancetta since it is more widely accessible, although guanciale is preferred and is the traditional fat used in Amatriciana. If you can find guanciale and choose to use it here, you may not need additional fat (olive oil) since guanciale tends to be fattier than some pancetta. If you cannot access pancetta or guanciale, you can use a non-flavored bacon. When ordering the guanciale or pancetta from the deli counter or butcher, ask for a thick chunk so you can dice it yourself.
- The pasta. We've used bucatini for this recipe but you can use other pastas. Spaghetti Amatriciana and rigatoni Amatriciana would be fantastic! Just make sure to cook your pasta to 1 minute less than al dente and finish it in the pan, and as always, reserve your pasta water!
- The salt. I mention it above but Amatriciana tends to be a salty dish from the pancetta and Pecorino so use caution when adding additional salt and remember that the pasta water is salted too!
- The wine. Use a dry white wine for this dish, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
- The cheese. Some folks don't like Pecorino and prefer Parmigiano Reggiano. Since Pecorino has such a distinct flavor that is a large component of Amatriciana, I'd strongly suggest you opt for Pecorino. However, if you simply cannot access it you can use Parmigiano in a pinch.
More simple pasta recipes we think you'll love
One of the reasons we love pasta Amatriciana is its simplicity. Here are a few more easy ones we turn to time and again.
- Linguine Aglio e Olio - pasta with garlic, oil, and crushed red pepper.
- Pasta marinara - tomatoes, garlic, basil, and pasta.
- Spicy pepper bucatini - pasta with hot peppers, tomatoes, Pecorino, and fresh basil.
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- 1 pound bucatini or spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces pancetta or guanciale
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup pasta water will most likely not need all of it
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
- Heat a large pan to medium and saute the pancetta in the extra virgin olive oil for 7-8 minutes or until most of the fat has been rendered. Remove about half of the pancetta to a plate and set aside.
- Next, add the crushed red pepper to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by about half.
- Cook pasta to 1 minute less than al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- Next, add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and cook on medium until they start to bubble. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the sauce cook uncovered while boiling the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and cook until the pasta reaches al dente (about 1 minute). Stir well and make sure the pasta is absorbing the sauce.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Pecorino. Add a touch more pasta water if too dry. Serve in bowls, topping with the reserved crispy pancetta and offer more Pecorino. Enjoy!
- Traditionally, Amatriciana is made with guanciale but pancetta is used in this recipe as guanciale can be hard to find.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
This recipe was originally published on October 23, 2018. It was completely updated on August 23, 2022.