Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana is essentially spaghetti in a spicy tomato sauce with guanciale (pork cheek) or pancetta (pork belly, similar to bacon), but everything just sounds better when you call it by its Italian name.

I stumbled across this recipe while perusing Saveur online, and because I have a weakness for spaghetti in a classic tomato sauce, I was instantly drawn to it. I made a few changes - kicked up the heat a little, added more garlic, and finished with a bit of cream to give the sauce more body. I think it's a winner. Btw, you could also use bucatini pasta (similar to spaghetti, except hollow on the inside like a thin tube), but spaghetti is easy to find and works beautifully.

Serves 4-6

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced/shaved pancetta, cut in half (or guanciale)
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small carrot, minced or finely shredded
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes, including juices, puree in blender or food processor (I used Cento)
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, divided (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
16 ounces spaghetti (or bucatini)
chopped Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat large, deep skillet over medium heat and add oil. Add pancetta and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 4-6 minutes.

browning pancetta

Add lots of fresh ground black pepper and cook for about a minute longer, until fragrant.

pepper added

Increase heat to medium-high and add garlic, carrots, and onions, and cook until soft, about 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

garlic, carrots, and onion added in

Add chili flakes and cook for 1 more minute.

crushed red pepper added in

Add pureed tomatoes, stir, and reduce to simmer. Continue simmering and stirring  occasionally until sauce thickens and flavors meld, about 25 minutes or longer. This sauce thickens and is more flavorful the longer you simmer. Season with kosher salt to taste.

tomato sauce added in

Stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, and cream and continue simmering while you prepare the spaghetti according to package directions.

cheese already in, cream just added
all mixed together

Drain spaghetti reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid. Add spaghetti and liquid directly to skillet and toss with sauce. Serve with remaining cheese and garnish with parsley.

spaghetti into skillet with sauce, about to toss



  1. YUM! I keep seeing this recipe & now I REALLY want to try it :-) Love the addition of the cream - you're on target there. Kate @kateiscooking

  2. Yum...amatriciana is my favorite pasta sauce! This looks GREAT!!! Giada de Laurentiis also has a fab amatriciana sauce in one of her cookbooks. I love pancetta too...I made an Italian version of a BLT last night. It's on my blog if you need an idea for something to do with your leftover pancetta :)...

  3. Thanks Kate and Wendy!! This is the first time I've made this particular sauce and now I'm hooked! W - I'll go check your BLT's - I LOVE BLT's!

  4. Just curious...what type of camera do you use? I need to stop with the digital canon lol...and am in the market for one.

  5. Hi Neel - I use a Nikon D80 DSLR. I've had it for a few years and I still really like it.

  6. Thanks! And thanks for the comment, i just replied. I don't know why i didn't see it till now lol.

  7. yum! this looks completely different from all the other tomato sauces i've made, tried or tasted! certainly no carrots and chilli flakes (except aglio olio). hmm. this really piqued my appetite! i can't wait to try.

  8. I recently saw Anne Burrell make this and have been on the hunt for guanciale ever since. Pancetta sounds like a good substitute. I like your additions...This looks like a perfect sauce!

  9. This is absolutely my favorite pasta dish. I have actually only eaten it with bucatini. It's such a satisfying pasta dish. Looks great!

  10. You did a marvelous job with this.

    Have you thought of taking on other Italian classic like carbonara or puttanesca?

  11. this is beautiful- I am jealous of this dish and your photos! YUM!

  12. Karen - I would have loved to have seen that episode. It's always interesting to see your own take on something vs someone else's (especially a pro!).

    Constant Hunger - I chuckle when I read your name and profile because it's so me, too - lol! I'll have to try it with bucatini next.

    Mike- I love carbonara, haven't made puttanesca but olives, capers and anchovies are so right up my alley. You've got me thinking I need to make this soon!

    Claire - Thank you so much!!!

  13. Congrats on the top 9. The picture is fantastic!

  14. This looks completely delicious. Pancetta in the sauce sounds great, I will definitely be making this soon!

  15. This spaghetti looks incredibly delicious...!! A real must-try :)!

  16. Thanks Carolyn, Eva, and Cooking Gallery!!

  17. Completely agree - if you use the English names for a dish like this, it just loses all the romance doesn't it? :) We love spicy food and have just received delivery of a small amount of pork so will be giving this a go (even if our pork is the wrong cut!)

  18. In the original recipe neither cream nor garlic are allowed!

    1. I disagree - garlic is def part of it! The cream, as I mentioned in my post, was my addition and is totally optional.

    2. If you add garlic or cream, you will be arrested by the chef police. If you like it the way you like it, add the garlic and cream as it is better that way. I've been tinkering with this dish for a while and this is how I like it as well. I add basil near the end of cooking, shoot me.