Hey! I'm Des!

Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

Read more »

Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta Amatriciana made with pancetta, tomatoes, Romano cheese, crushed peppers and onions. It will be a family favorite! 

Ryan and I have been fortunate enough to go to Italy twice in our lives. The trips were a dream. During those two trips we visited Rome, Venice, Florence, the Amalfi Coast, Milan, Lake Como and Siena. The country, the sights and the people were wonderful. The food and wine were fantastic. I still find myself thinking about some of the meals we had there. I consider the meal that I had at Il Buco Ristorante in Sorrento to be among one of the best meals I have ever had. Ever. 

Whether we were eating stuffed zucchini blossoms, linguine aglio olio or gelato, everything was unbelievably delicious. My favorite meals were always the ones that were simple. Meals that tasted like home cooking. Pasta Amatriciana is a perfect example of that.

What is pasta all’amatriciana?

Pasta all’amatriciana is a traditional Italian dish with guanciale, tomatoes and romano cheese. It is a typical Roman dish but originated from the town of Amatrice.

Let’s talk about everything you’ll need to make it:

Pasta Amatriciana ingredients:

Overhead photo of amatriciana ingredients on white background.
  • GUANCIALE: Guanciale is an Italian cured meat that is used in Italian recipes like this one and Spaghetti Carbonara. It can be difficult to find here in the US. If you cannot find it, pancetta is a great substitute Pancetta is basically Italian bacon, but unlike American bacon it is not smoked.  If you cannot find pancetta use thick cut unsmoked bacon.
  • ONION/GARLIC: Garlic and onion are not always a traditional ingredients in amatriciana but I do love the flavor that they add.
  • DICED TOMATOES: The base of the sauce. Using diced tomatoes will give the sauce a bit more texture than using tomato sauce.
  • CRUSHED RED PEPPERS: These will add a bit of heat to the pasta. I start with 1/8 of a teaspoon so it’s not too much heat.
  • PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE: Is a hard cheese that is both sharp and salty. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use freshly grated Parmesan cheese instead.
  • PASTA: You could use any kind of pasta that you like, I prefer to use Bucatini pasta. Bucatini pasta is a thick spaghetti like pasta with a hole in the middle. I like it because it’s thicker and has more of a bite to it. In recent years I have seen bucatini pasta available at my grocery store. If you cannot find it, you can substitute spaghetti or linguine.

Step by Step Photos and Instructions:

Pasta Amatriciana comes together in under 30 minutes. You’ll want to make the sauce while you cook the pasta. Everything should be done shortly after the pasta is done.

STEP #1: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

STEP #2: Meanwhile, in a large pan cook guanciale until it starts to brown and render the fat.

STEP #3: Transfer the guanciale to paper-towel lined plate and set aside. Reserve the fat. Add onions, garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook just until onions start to soften, 3 – 5 minutes.

STEP #4: Add tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes, the sauce will thicken a bit during this time.

STEP #5: Return the guanciale to the sauce and add in pasta. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce. Sprinkle with pecorino Romano and toss once more. Serve immediately with more Romano and crushed red peppers, if desired.

I love to serve Pasta Amatriciana with my easy garlic bread and a salad with garlic vinaigrette dressing.

Storage and Leftovers:

This pasta reheats beautifully! Store leftovers in the refrigerator and eat within 3 days.

Recipe FAQ:

What is Guanciale?

Guanciale is an Italian cured meat made with pork jowl or cheeks. It differs from pancetta because pancetta comes from the belly.

What is the difference between arribiata and amatriciana?

Both are spicy tomato based sauces but amatriciana is made with guanciale while arribiata is not.

Pasta Amatriciana twirled on gold fork.

Looking for more pasta recipes? Here are some of my most popular:

Capellini Pomodoro is an Olive Garden Copycat. It’s a classic!

Lemon Caper Pasta is a must make for spring and summer!

Shrimp Linguine with Zucchini and Tomatoes is my absolute favorite pasta. I’m sure you’re going to love it too!

Note: Originally published in 2009. Updated in 2023 with new photos, nutrition information and a slightly modified recipe. 

Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta Amatriciana is a rustic Italian dish with pancetta, tomatoes, romano cheese, crushed peppers and onions. It will be a family favorite! 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 476 kcal



  • 1 pound pasta such as spaghetti buccatini, or linguine
  • 4 ounces guanciale chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes drained
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese


  • Start the water for your pasta. Cook according to box directions.
  • Meanwhile, brown guanciale in a large skillet over medium heat, 3 - 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserve pan drippings.
  • In the same skillet add the onion and crushed red pepper. Cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Cook 15 minutes, sauce will reduce slightly. (Note: Guanciale can be salty so taste your sauce before you start adding salt.)
  • Return pancetta to pan, toss in pasta. Add pecorino romano cheese, toss pasta once more. Serve.


If you can't find guanciale, you can substitute pancetta or thick cut bacon. 
Bucatini pasta is traditional but this can also be made with spaghetti or linguine. 
Nutrition information for estimation purposes only. 


Calories: 476kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 16gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 281mgPotassium: 445mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 202IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 151mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: classic, everyday italian, Food, italian, pasta, Recipe, roman, romano cheese

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    Allyson Zea
    May 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Oh i can’t wait to try this pasta – YUM!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Love a good Amatriciana! This pasta looks incredible!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Pasta dishes always go over well in my house! Can’t wait to try this one!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2018 at 5:36 am

    This looks fantastic! I am definitely a pancetta fan so the addtion of this makes my heart happy!

  • Reply
    May 2, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    I love how simple this is — definitely going on our menu!

  • Reply
    Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious
    May 2, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    My weakness is a delicious bowl of pasta. This looks like the real deal! Soooo good.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    5 stars
    This looks absolutely amazing! Perfect for the family!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2010 at 7:51 am

    My version, coming from Rome:

    – the recipe actually calls for bucatini
    – no white wine, which has no obvious business here;
    – replace onion with four-five cloves of garlic;
    – replace truckload of tomatoes with one big fresh tomato, peeled and seeded
    (to peel, put in boiling water 50 seconds – to seed cut in the middle and crush it in your hand)
    Do try it…
    Serve it with an Italian Frascati white, for instance, a wine of the region, not a Pinot Grigio (from NE Italy…).

  • Reply
    October 4, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    i love this recipe…

  • Reply
    January 27, 2010 at 9:14 am

    My family and I lived for several years, in Rome, where my husband worked. I tried spaghetti all’amatriciana at a restaurant there, and fell in love with it. I’ve been looking for a recipe for it ever since. Last night I tried yours, and it was delicious!! I had to use thick-cut American style bacon, but it still worked just fine, and it was a huge hit at our dinner table. I added chopped Italian parsley on top just before serving, and I heated up some crusty bread to sop up the extra juice. Mmmmmmmm!!!

  • Reply
    April 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks Tim!
    You’re welcome Barr! :)
    I hope you enjoy it Debbie!

  • Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Looks wonderful. I love all things pasta!! I will have to try this sometime….

  • Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Aw Des, this sounds awesome! I’m a huge Giada fan, for more than one reason ;) but I didnt catch this particular show. Thanks for laying it out for us!


  • Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 4:10 am

    Pasta All’Amatriciana is one of my favourites, especially for a quick meal on a weeknight. Yours looks great, by the way!

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

    Sharing is Caring

    Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!