Pasta alla Gricia

This minimal recipe originates from Rome, Italy and contains only a few ingredients. Easy to make and delivers on flavor.
Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Difficulty Easy





  • 1 tbsp Olive oil , extra virgin
  • 1 cup Guanciale (cured pork jowl), cut into 2 cm / ¾” pieces
  • 1 tsp Black pepper, freshly ground


  • For pasta water Salt
  • ¾ lb Rigatoni,  (or other short pasta noodle)
  • 1 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
  • To taste Salt
  • To taste Black pepper, freshly ground


  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low. Once shimmering, add guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and meat is golden in color and crisp, about 15 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer guanciale to a plate; set aside. Reduce heat to low, and bloom black pepper in rendered guanciale fat until pepper foams and is aromatic, about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and reserve (do not wipe out).
  • In a medium pot or Dutch oven, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta to water and cook, stirring frequently during the first minute, to prevent pasta from sticking.
  • Once pasta has partially cooked, about 4 minutes, transfer 2 cups pasta water to previously used skillet. Return to high heat and bring to a boil, swirling to emulsify pasta water with guanciale fat.
  • When pasta has cooked for a total of 5 minutes, drain water into a heatproof bowl and transfer pasta to skillet; reserve drained pasta water.
  • Cook pasta, swirling skillet constantly, to ensure even cooking and that the sauce remains emulsified, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and reduced, about 6 to 8 minutes; if sauce reduces too much before pasta has finished cooking, add more reserved pasta water to skillet in small increments. Add guanciale to skillet and stir to combine.
  • Remove from heat and add half of the Pecorino cheese, stirring rapidly to combine. Once cheese is fully emulsified in the sauce, add remaining Pecorino, stir rapidly again to combine.
  • Season with salt and black pepper. Serve.


  • Partially freezing the guanciale will make it easier to slice
  • Adjust sauce consistency as needed with more pasta water
  • Since guanciale and pecorino cheese are both very salty, it is recommended to under salt pasta water 
  • Alternatively, you can substitute pancetta or bacon for guanciale 
  • Alternatively, you can substitute Parmesan cheese for Pecorino