Pasta alla Gricia: the Italian recipe for pasta with guanciale and pecorino romano cheese

Total time: 20 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
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By Cookist

Pasta alla gricia (pronounced gree-cha) is a creamy, rich main dish very popular in Italy and worldwide. It is made with pasta, and Roman ingredients such as pecorino cheese and guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from the pig cheek lard.

It is a typical of the Lazio region (Italy) tradition together with cacio e pepe, carbonara and amatriciana. In fact, pasta alla gricia is considered the poor ancestor of amatriciana pasta, which is why it is also called "white amatriciana pasta". Both of these dishes share the use of guanciale and grated pecorino romano cheese, while the main difference is the tomato sauce, which is absent in pasta alla gricia.

Although this is a representative recipe of Roman cuisine, pasta alla gricia pasta is actually a dish originating from the city of Amatrice, and involves the use of local guanciale and pecorino romano cheese. Very quick and easy to make, the secret of this recipe lies in using high-quality ingredients. Pasta alla gricia is basically a cheese and pepper pasta with the addition of the guanciale.

What does Pasta alla Gricia mean?

It is said that its name derives from griscium, a Roman term originally referring to gray coats used to keep from getting dirty with flour. This word was later also referred to bakers who apparently dressed poorly.

Another theory another theory hypothesizes that actually the name of this dish derives from gricio, that is the term by which bakers coming from German regions of the Rhine and from the Canton of Grisons in Eastern Switzerland were called.

Pasta alla Gricia vs Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla gricia and pasta alla carbonara are two Roman main dishes. Both recipes use pecorino cheese, guanciale and generally the same pasta shape such as spaghetti or rigatoni. However, pasta alla carbonara also adds beaten eggs, while pasta alla gricia does not.


For a super creamy sauce, do not forget to add a drop of pasta cooking water to the cream of grated pecorino romano cheese and black pepper.

For our pasta alla gricia recipe we used spaghetti, but you can use any pasta shape you like such as bucatini, or rigatoni.

Since guanciale and pecorino are two salty ingredients, it is better not to salt the pasta.

In the original recipe, you should mix the sauce with the pasta away from the stove. The risk is that the heat can congeal the grated pecorino romano cheese.

If you want to make a traditional pasta alla gricia recipe, use guanciale and try not to replace it with pancetta or bacon as they're different.

You can make pasta alla gricia vegetarian by leaving out the guanciale. Anyway you won't enjoy the classic Italian recipe.

How to store Pasta alla Gricia

It is best to enjoy the pasta alla gricia hot at the moment. You can also store it in the refrigerator for a day, closed in an airtight container. Freezing is not recommended.

360 g
guanciale (cheek lard)
200 g
Grated pecorino romano cheese
100 g
Black pepper
White wine
Extra virgin olive oil

How to make Pasta alla Gricia

First, prepare the guanciale by eliminating the rind, the hardest outer part.

Cut slices about 1-centimeter (1/2-inch) thick with a sharp knife. Then cut them into sticks that are not too thin.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water for the cooking time indicated on the package.

In the meantime, add the grated pecorino romano cheese and plenty of black pepper in a bowl. Mix with a whisk adding a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water until creamy.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan, add the guanciale and brown it, without letting it dry out too much. Deglaze with a drop of white wine.

Drain the spaghetti al dente and stir in the pan with the guanciale.

Pour the spaghetti into the bowl with the grated pecorino romano cheese and pepper cream, then mix well.

Sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese and black pepper. Serve the pasta alla gricia pasta immediately and enjoy!

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