Rating: 4.5 stars
8 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 4
  • 4 star values: 4
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0

One of the 4 quintessential 'primi' from the Lazio region in Italy, this pasta is beautiful in its simplicity with soft guanciale and tangy Pecorino cheese. No onion, no garlic, no oil - this flavorful dish gets its character from slowly sauteeing the guanciale and then creating a creamy sauce with the pasta water and a bit of Pecorino Romano before tossing with thick spaghetti. With only 4 ingredients, this is also a quick meal when you're in a rush.

Recipe Summary

5 mins
20 mins
25 mins
4 servings


Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally.

  • While pasta cooks, immediately heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add guanciale and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1 ladle of pasta cooking water, stir, and cover pan. As pasta cooks, add another ladle of cooking water to the pan with the guanciale to create a sauce.

  • At about 10 minutes of pasta cooking time, reserve a cup of cooking water and drain pasta. Add spaghetti to the pan with the guanciale; toss, adding reserved cooking water if necessary. Turn off heat. Add 1/3 the Pecorino Romano cheese to the pasta and toss until creamy.

  • Divide pasta between 4 plates. Top each with remaining Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Cook's Note:

If you cannot find guanciale, you can use pancetta instead.

Nutrition Facts

875 calories; protein 25.2g; carbohydrates 85.7g; fat 46.9g; cholesterol 73.1mg; sodium 276.2mg. Full Nutrition