Spaghetti Alla Gricia Recipe

There's no denying that spaghetti and meatballs is the most popular spaghetti-based dish. We're not trying to dethrone it or even compete with it, but rather introduce you to a new way to prepare and enjoy spaghetti — the alla gricia way! Recipe developer Christina Musgrave has a perfectly savory, peppery, cheesy rendition of spaghetti alla gricia, which she describes as "classic comfort food." 

Along with being comfort food, Musgrave also describes this spaghetti as "delicious, easy, and quick," and adds that "the fat from the guanciale is delicious with the pasta and simple sauce." Indeed, simple is a word that works here, because despite the decadence of the dish, it's actually really easy to whip up. You only need a handful of ingredients (one of those being spaghetti, of course), and 30 minutes that you're willing to spend in the kitchen. Don't worry, spaghetti and meatballs will make an appearance in your dinner rotation soon enough — give this spaghetti alla gricia a spin, instead!

Gather the ingredients for spaghetti alla gricia

As stated earlier, you'll need spaghetti for this dish. Additionally, you'll need salt, olive oil, cubed guanciale (which is Italian cured meat), white wine, grated Pecorino Romano, and some freshly ground black pepper. 

Because this is such a simple and classic dish, Musgrave says that there aren't any special ingredients here. She does have one note in regards to the wine: "Any dry white wine will be great in this recipe," she explains, so sorry, no sweet moscato here. 

Boil the pasta and cook the guanciale

First, you'll want to cook the spaghetti. Fill a large pot with water, season it with salt, and bring it to a rolling boil. Add in the spaghetti and cook until al dente, which should take about 7-8 minutes. Drain the pasta, but be sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. 

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet and place it over medium heat. Add in the chopped guanciale, and allow it to cook and crisp up a bit. After 10-12 minutes, the guanciale should be golden brown on all sides, and that's the sign that you can move on with the recipe.

Build the pasta dish in the skillet

With the guanciale adequately crisped up, you can begin building the rest of the dish. Add the white wine into the skillet and let it cook for about 2 minutes, so it can reduce a little bit. Then, add the reserved 1 cup of pasta water, and allow the liquid to come to a simmer. Next, in goes the cooked spaghetti, 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper. 

Toss the pasta in the sauce, then allow the whole dish to continue cooking. Stir continuously and vigorously so that a thick sauce forms. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Once you have that perfectly thick sauce, season the dish with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve your spaghetti alla gricia with extra grated cheese

With the pasta ready to go, you can go ahead and divide it out among your plates — this recipe makes 6 servings. Be sure to top off each plate with some extra grated Pecorino Romano. "I like serving this as the main dish with a side salad," Musgrave says. "If you're serving a meal in the traditional Italian style, this dish would be Primi, which means the first course, and a meat dish would be served afterwards." She also notes that this pasta goes wonderfully with a glass of wine — and hey, you already have that open bottle of white — and maybe some roasted vegetables on the side.

As for leftovers, you can certainly keep them. Musgrave notes that they'll keep for up to 4 days, and she recommends reheating them "in a pan with a little olive oil."

Spaghetti Alla Gricia Recipe
5 from 61 ratings
As trusty as your spaghetti and meatballs recipe is, it's time to mix things up in the pasta department and try this easy spaghetti alla gricia, instead.
Prep Time
Cook Time
spaghetti dish in bowl
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 7 ounces guanciale, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Season the water with 1 teaspoon salt. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 7-8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the guanciale cubes and cook, turning often, until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add ½ cup white wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Pour in the reserved pasta water and bring it to a simmer.
  4. Add the cooked pasta, 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, and ½ teaspoon black pepper, and toss to coat. Cook, stirring vigorously, until a thick sauce forms, 2-3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Divide the pasta between plates and garnish with more grated cheese before serving.
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