When we think of Roman pasta classics the likes of Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe spring to mind, but we often forget about the lesser-known delight Pasta alla Gricia. 

One of the oldest Roman pasta dishes, Pasta alla Gricia is a testament to the art of minimalism with just three simple and delicious ingredients. The recipe is believed to be born in the kitchens of travelling shepherds or Grici, who relied on simple, delicious and easily transportable ingredients; Guanciale, Pecorino and black pepper. 

It’s best paired with a tubular pasta shape like rigatoni which provides the perfect vessel for holding the decadent sauce. Some prefer to use a long and thin pasta type, in which case we’d recommend using bucatini which is similar to spaghetti but with a hole running through the center, allowing the sauce to cling to and coat the pasta effectively.

Our pasta alla gricia recipe

  • Serves: 2-4 people
  • Prep time: 10-15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-15 minutes
  • Calories per serving: 600-800



  1. Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. For fresh pasta, this is usually 3-4 minutes. For dried pasta, this is usually between 10-12 minutes but check the information on the packaging to confirm.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet, and start to chop your Tuscan Guanciale. Make sure to take off the rinds of the guanciale on both sides. Grate your cheese while the skillet is warming too.
  3. Once your skillet is hot and you have sliced your guanciale, add it to the skillet. There is no need to add oil as the guanciale is fatty enough and will release the fat as it cooks. 
  4. Cook the guanciale for around 6-8 minutes until it is crispy and golden, then remove it from the fat and set it aside. 
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, add a ladleful of pasta water into the pan with the fat from the guanciale, and reserve some extra pasta water before draining your pasta.
  6. Then, add your freshly drained pasta into the fat, stir and combine while on the heat, and then remove from the heat. 
  7. Add two-thirds of your grated pecorino romano cheese and another ladle of the reserved pasta water. The heat should create a smooth sauce as you combine it all together. 
  8. Add your crispy and golden Guanciale, and finish with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and more grated pecorino. 

What’s the difference between pasta alla gricia and carbonara?

Even though Pasta alla Gricia and Pasta Carbonara feature the same ingredients; guanciale, Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper, there are distinct differences. The key difference lies in the sauce. Pasta alla Gricia relies on the cheese and pasta water for creaminess, while Pasta Carbonara features a creamy sauce created with eggs and cheese. These subtle variations in ingredients and preparation result in distinct flavours and textures for each dish.

Which wines pair well with pasta alla gricia?

It is often thought that a white wine is best paired with a light pasta, and although this pasta could be paired with both, a red offers a richer pairing for the smoky guanciale and creamy pecorino. Kiruna Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a great recommendation – it’s a ripe fruity red that will match perfectly with the saltiness and richness of the guanciale. If white wine is more your taste, try this Kiruna Pecorino, also from the Abruzzo region.

Excited to get stuck in with this recipe? The Deli Society has an array of ingredients to make your Italian cooking journey that much easier and more tasty. From artisan pasta and rice to a great range of delicious cheeses, you’ll be able to develop your skills with the best of ingredients.

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