This classic pasta alla gricia recipe is easy to make with 3 main ingredients and always tastes so decadent and flavorful. For all of you carbonara lovers out there, have you ever tried its egg-free cousin, pasta alla gricia? ♡ I have to admit that I’d somehow never even heard of this classic dish until […]
This classic pasta alla gricia recipe is easy to make with 3 main ingredients and always tastes so decadent and flavorful.
For all of you carbonara lovers out there, have you ever tried its egg-free cousin, pasta alla gricia? ♡
I have to admit that I’d somehow never even heard of this classic dish until we moved to Europe and spotted it on countless Italian menus here. As an avid fan of the other three of the four classic Roman pastas — cacio e pepe, pasta alla carbonara, and pasta all’Amatriciana — I was eager to give this lesser-known member of the fam a try. And now, many years and many (many) batches of pasta alla gricia later, I have to say that this simple dish has secured its spot as one of my all-time favorites.
Made solely with pasta, bacon and cheese, pasta alla gricia is basically like an egg-free carbonara or a tomato-free Amatriciana. But I’m telling you, it is three ingredient perfection. Guanciale (cured pork cheek) is the star of the show here, with its intensely rich, salty, savory flavor. And when fried to golden, chewy perfection and then patiently tossed with good-quality pasta and Pecorino cheese until a perfectly-emulsified silky sauce develops, you will see why pasta alla gricia has been an absolute favorite in Rome for more than a thousand years. It’s rich, comforting, and packs surprising layers of delicious savory flavors into every single bite. And here in our house, we can’t get enough of it.
That said, the key to all four classic Roman pasta dishes — with their famously short lists of ingredients — is learning the proper techniques to make them. I’ve experimented with a number of different recipes for alla gricia over the years (which mainly differ in terms of ingredient ratios and how long the pasta is simmered in the starchy guanciale sauce). And while I’ll be the first to point out that I am clearly not an expert in Italian cooking, I have landed on a ratio and method over the years that consistently works best for me, which I’m excited to share with you today.
I love this pasta alla gricia recipe because is easy to make in about 30 minutes from start to finish, it’s rich and bacon-y without being overly greasy, and it incorporates a few key steps that help the cheese melt perfectly into a glossy sauce (instead of sticking to the pan, which is always such a tragedy). I’m really, really, really going to insist that you try to track down some Italian guanciale in order to give this dish its authentically bold pork flavor, as well as some good-quality pasta and Pecorino-Romano cheese to make the sauce. But if those ingredients are unavailable in your area, I’ve included notes below for how to use pancetta (or bacon) and/or Parmesan instead, which won’t be traditional but will still definitely be delicious.
Alright, let’s make some pasta together!