Bucatini all’Amatriciana is a classic pasta dish with a sauce made from whole tomatoes, guanciale (pancetta or bacon works well, too), black pepper, balsamic vinegar, white wine, and chile peppers. Finish with lashings of pecorino Roman cheese.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe is made with bucatini, a long pasta with a very thin hole in the center, so it’s kind of like chewy spaghetti tubes. Sauce Amatriciana is one of the oldest Italian tomato sauces. It is traditionally made with guanciale, or cured pork cheek, but bacon has become a more common ingredient. Serve the pasta with plenty of shredded pecorino Romano cheese, a loaf of crusty bread, and a good bottle of red wine.–Theresa Gilliam
☞ Table of Contents
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon or guanciale coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 small onion minced (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- One (28-oz) can whole tomatoes undrained
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional), plus more for the cooking water
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried bucatini or spaghetti
- 1/3 cup shredded pecorino Romano cheese plus more for serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it just begins to crisp, about 6 minutes.
- If desired, drain some of the bacon drippings and oil from the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is transparent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it's reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes (along with their juices) and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Let cook, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon as they soften, until the sauce comes together, about 10 minutes. Season with the chile flakes, salt, if using, and pepper, bearing in mind the cheese will add quite a lot of saltiness to the dish. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and the reserved liquid to the sauce and return the skillet to medium heat. Toss the pasta gently until it's well coated and heated through, about 5 minutes. Fold in the cheese.
- Serve the pasta hot and pass plenty of additional cheese on the side.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I could eat this bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe everyday, thanks to my Italian heritage. I loved the contrast in this sauce between the sweet, fresh flavor of the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar with just the right amount of heat from the pepper flakes. I wouldn’t call this spicy, I’d call it delicious. I asked David to make this a definite keeper. We paired it with a lovely 2009 Chianti Classico.
Oh my goodness gracious. Oh me, oh my. This bucatini all’Amatriciana is ridiculously delicious. One taste and I was completely twitterpated and tongue-tied—and not only because I can’t pronounce the name of it. It really was love at first bite. The sauce is really simple to make and so freakishly good thanks to the addition of bacon, balsamic vinegar, white wine, and red chili flakes. I accidentally purchased crushed tomatoes vs. whole, and the sauce was still amazing. (Just imagine what it tastes like with whole tomatoes!) My only complaint was that I didn’t know about this recipe sooner, because I’ve wasted so many pasta meals on bland sauces.
This dish is definitely a keeper and already has a place in my family cookbook. It’s one of those recipes you just know you will crave and will have to make time and again. A few notes: As mentioned above, I purchased the wrong tomatoes and was too far into the recipe before I realized. The crushed tomatoes actually worked really well, though I can see how the whole tomatoes would give a bit more texture.
I couldn’t find bucatini in the grocery store, so I used spaghetti. This is one of the only times I have really liked spaghetti, but I think bucatini would be outstanding in this dish. The serving size was spot on for 4 people (though I could have eaten it all by my lonesome). Timing was right at about an hour, though I think you could make it a bit quicker by making your pasta after you add the tomatoes to the skillet, though it wouldn’t save a great deal of time and I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to let the flavors in the sauce meld.
Though I could taste the red chili flakes, they weren’t terribly spicy to me. I actually thought it was the perfect amount of heat. Other people with a bit more spice sensitivity might disagree, so I think this could be either optional or to taste.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe is a classic Italian dish from the town of Amatrice, located in the Lazio region about a 2-hour drive from Rome. This dish is classically made with guanciale or pancetta, but it works great with thick-cut bacon, as specified in this recipe. The sauce has a richness, a touch of sweetness from the balsamic vinegar and the tomatoes (assuming you use good canned tomatoes such as D.O.P. San Marzanos), and is quite rustic in appearance, belying the simplicity of its preparation.
The recipe works fine as written. The only change I would make would be to eliminate the tablespoon of olive oil for cooking the bacon. There will be quite a bit of fat rendered from the bacon and you will have plenty of oil in the pan. If you want to add a little oil to get the bacon started, a teaspoon, at most, would be fine, but a whole tablespoon is going to make the sauce unnecessarily oily and I would rather use the bacon fat, which will impart more smokiness and depth of flavor than the oil.
Also, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan after you add the wine to get all of the flavorful browned bits into the sauce.
Yes, a quick, easy, and tasty dish! And ingredients that are always in my kitchen, so it came together even more quickly than 35 minutes. Next time, I’ll crush the tomatoes in my hand before putting them in the sauce. You may want to adjust the amount of chili flakes; I used 1/2 teaspoon and that amount was fine for spicy-loving me, but too much for my bland-loving husband.
Hey, this bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe was fabulous! When I feel like a simple, no-frills pasta dinner, this is what I’ll be making. This is so straightforward and satisfying that it’s now on my list of go-to, fail-proof recipes. I think what made this sauce so satisfying was the interplay of subtle sweetness and spice.
The balsamic added a piquant fruitiness, while the garlic and red pepper flakes made it dance with just enough heat. It’s worth noting that this recipe makes a lot of pasta—I’d say it serves 6, maybe even more, depending on one’s appetite.
I loved this bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe not only for the wonderful flavors it produced and the quick and easy preparation, but also for the fact that most of the ingredients are items that are regularly available in my kitchen. This means, for me, that we will enjoy it many times in the future.
I found that my bacon and onions and garlic cooked a tiny bit faster than the recipe stated, so perhaps my stove was a little higher than the recipe intended, but since there are great visual clues to doneness mentioned in the recipe’s instructions, it was not a problem at all.
The finished sauce had a sweetness to it that was at first surprising, but went very well with the small amount of heat from the crushed red pepper. The leftovers were also excellent, as the pasta continued to soak up the sauce and became even more flavorful, if that’s possible.
This bucatini was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve made in a long time. The smoky bacon, sweet but slightly acidic tomatoes, and nutty cheese all combined with the kick of red pepper flakes to really add something special to our dinner plates. This is going in the regular dinner rotation. I can’t wait to try it with garden tomatoes in the summer. As an added benefit, the leftovers were delicious and reheated beautifully.
This would only serve 4 in the strange world of restaurant portion sizes, but we easily got 8 large servings from the recipe. (Granted, we aren’t large eaters, but we aren’t light eaters, either.) I’m the only balsamic vinegar fan in the house, so I waited to add my vinegar at the table. I thought it added the hint of acidity that the dish needed. The other members of the family were happy to have theirs without the balsamic and didn’t think anything was missing.
A couple notes: I used unsalted canned tomatoes and only used 1/4 teaspoon salt, which was plenty with the salt from the bacon and the cheese. My bacon took almost 30 minutes to fully crisp, seriously delaying dinner. I should have known better than to go by the six-minute cooking time for the bacon, since my bacon always takes much longer than that to cook. I’m not used to particularly thick-cut bacon. I wish I’d reserved some of the crisp bacon to sprinkle on top of the pasta at the table for some crunch. Next time. And there will be a next time. My husband remarked that he would cook extra bacon to serve on top, but I think that might be overkill. He still disagrees.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe is a prime example of why I love cooking traditional Italian food. A simple recipe, quality ingredients, and a unique combination of flavors all come together for an amazingly delectable dish. Bucatini is one of my favorite pasta shapes of all time–thick spaghetti-like noodles that hold sauce very well thanks to the hole all the way through each pasta strand. It works so well with a hearty sauce like this one, and also with a Bolognese or thick homemade pesto. But I digress. I’d just purchased a pound of bucatini, and as I was reading the recipes we could test for this session, there it was, Bucatini all’Amatriciana. I’d eaten this dish in Italy and wanted to make it myself. Perfect timing!
Simply a hearty tomato sauce with garlic, onion, and bacon. This recipe took no time at all, and I really liked the addition of white wine instead of red, and the addition of balsamic vinegar for that tiny bit of tang. The crushed red pepper and cheese go a long way with flavor as well; I had shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano in the house, so I used that instead of Pecorino.
My only comment on the recipe itself is that it doesn’t take a total of 1 hour to make; even with the chopping, I’d say the whole process only takes about 35-40 minutes. This is a classic Italian dish that is so flavorful and totally unforgettable!
Bucatini all’Amatriciana is one of my husband’s favorite pasta dishes so I had to give it a try. This recipe didn’t disappoint. It was very easy and straightforward. I used some thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, a sweet onion, and San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce. The addition of balsamic vinegar gave a slightly sweet tang to the finished sauce. Definitely use bucatini pasta, as it has a nice heft that holds onto the sauce.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana dish is amazing, and I wouldn’t change a thing! I’m impressed that so few ingredients can come together to create such incredible depth. This dish was loved by both adults and kids alike. The standout flavors were the balsamic vinegar and the bacon (how can any dish go wrong with bacon?).
I’ve never enhanced tomato sauce with balsamic, and it was brilliant! One of the best things about this dish—aside from its amazing flavor—is how simple it is to make. The whole dish came together in less than 30 minutes, which is a blessing when you have 2 young kids. I will make this dish again and again and again.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana was a comforting weeknight pasta. The recipe was straightforward and fast to assemble since the sauce can simmer while the pasta cooks. The bacon, onions, and garlic melted into the tomatoes, making a rustic and delicious sauce. I put in a full teaspoon red chili flakes because we like that spicy kick.
The bucatini was chewy and soaked up the quick and simple sauce. I did use the reserved liquid from the pasta cooking water as described. Plates of irresistible pasta with lots of cheese, a loaf of bread, and red wine is heaven in our house!
This recipe belongs in everyone’s rotation. As an Italian who loves pasta and sauces, I can say this is the easiest and most impressive pan sauce you can make, and no special ingredients required. There are many regional variations in Italian cooking. The use of bacon in this one is not quite traditional but puts it over the top for me. You can sub jowl bacon or pancetta if needed, but try to get very thick-sliced bacon if you can.
A tablespoon of oil is plenty if you’re using bacon because you’ll render some of the fat. I drained about 1/2 the bacon fat after cooking it (but kept the rest for flavor). I also used San Marzano tomatoes, as that’s what I always use and what I had on hand. They’re much sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes. They also have a much thicker puree. I omitted the salt because it wasn’t needed with the cheese. I also didn’t need the extra cooking water.
I had to use spaghetti, as that’s all I could get, but this sauce will work with whatever pasta you have. Adjust the red pepper flakes to taste, starting with 1/4 teaspoon. This dish is very well balanced and not acidic at all. If you are looking for restaurant quality, then this is it. This recipe will make you the hero in the kitchen for sure. It’s now in my weeknight dinner rotation.
I love when simple ingredients come together to make an amazing dish. With this recipe, you can have a fancy dinner in no time, yet look like you’ve been cooking for hours! The ingredients are things that you generally have readily available in the pantry and refrigerator. I like trying new pasta shapes, and it was my first time trying bucatini. I liked the thickness of the noodles, which really allowed this great sauce to nicely coat the pasta.
The mix of flavors and the addition of the balsamic vinegar (which I love!) made for a very rich-tasting sauce. Plus, bacon (and wine) makes everything better, so basically, this is an amazing combination. With that said, I think it’s important to cook the bacon well so that you render a good amount of the fat from the bacon and all that bacon-y goodness gets into the sauce.
I’ve made this a couple of times since initially testing the recipe and can’t wait to make it again!
This dish was a wonderful weeknight surprise. It cooked up quickly and the lovely cheese, bacon, and chili flakes melded together for such a savory sauce. I used jowl bacon and found it to be perfect for this dish. I highly recommend using good-quality, San Marzano tomatoes.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe is a classic pasta recipe that you should have in your back pocket for everyday meals as well as for when surprise guests pop by for dinner. The ingredient list is short, and your pantry and fridge should usually hold what you need to pull this delicious and satisfying meal together in about half an hour.
I had a bit of prosciutto leftover, so I added that as well (pancetta would be great here, too) and puréed the mixture just a bit before serving. The result was deeply flavorful and warming. I would have enjoyed a bit more spice from a whole chile, but my husband was very happy with the flavor of the chili flakes.
I had spaghetti on hand, but I’m sure that bucatini would be even more delicious to capture all the sauce. Be sure to add a splash of pasta water to the sauce. It will make a difference! Check out how to pronounce this recipe—no point in making something you can’t pronounce.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe is absolutely perfect for a family weeknight dinner, a Sunday supper, when company shows up, or pretty much anytime. As the sauce cooks, it fills the house with an inviting and heavenly aroma. This dish is rich, filling, warm, yet not too heavy.
While red wine is often added to tomato-based sauces, the white wine really lifts and brightens the flavor of the sauce. The cooking time for the bacon was perfect, although my wine reduced in about 30 seconds. Everything else went as written. The bucatini was texturally perfect, and the sauce had just the right amount of heat without being too spicy.
This one is already a family favorite.
If I could, I’d serve pasta with some sort of tomato-y sauce once or twice a week. These types of recipes generally use stuff I’ve already got in the pantry and are easy enough for busy weeknights. But I got a little out of control, so I took a hiatus from pasta with tomato-y sauces…until this bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe. Two bites in, my husband told me he’d be happy to have it again. Then he said it had a nice amount of heat. Then he said he wanted seconds. Weekly pasta night is back! I
did make a tiny change to this recipe, and it’s a bit odd. I made this during the height of cold and flu season when we had terribly sore throats. So I puréed the sauce. We just had to get past the mind games a smooth sauce plays on a person. (Why should this seemingly plain sauce have smoky, bacon-y flavors? Richness from balsamic vinegar?) It doesn’t matter. It was delicious.
After I tossed the sauce and pasta, I did need to add about 1/2 cup cooking water to keep it loose, but that was no big deal.
This bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe was an easy dinner to pull together during the week, and even my husband, who is not a big pasta eater, enjoyed this. I ended up having to substitute crushed tomatoes for the whole ones, but I don’t think it affected the overall results.
The chili flakes could be omitted for young children and those sensitive to spice, but I took my chances with my toddler and she was okay. I was also very happy with my choice of using the black pepper-coated bacon from the butcher in this recipe. Will definitely make it again!
I loved everything about this bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe. Its simplicity makes it a quick meal to get on the table in a short amount of time. I love the thickness and texture of the bucatini, but some thought it would be better with a thinner pasta. The flavors of the sauce are just right. This goes great with some garlic cheese bread.
This sauce was a cinch to make and was an easy, delicious, weeknight dish. I made it early in the day and warmed it through just before serving it with homemade spaghetti. The addition of bacon gives it extra depth of flavor. However, I did drain some of the bacon fat before adding the other ingredients.
I did a double-take when I read this bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe and then checked again when I saw 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in the ingredient list. It’s unusual in this traditional sauce, but it worked very well. Between the salty richness of the bacon and cheese and the sweetness and acidity of the wine and vinegar, this is a balanced and flavorful sauce.
I did make two small substitutions—I used rice spaghetti (as bucatini isn’t an easy gluten-free find) and I used Parmesan instead of Romano (as this is a family preference). I do think this would really benefit from the brightness of some freshly chopped parsley, but that is the only thing I would change. This will become a weeknight winner for our family!
Here’s an easy yet flavorful pasta sauce that you can pull together from mostly pantry ingredients. The recipe works as written, although you might take a tad more time with the sautéing and the final simmer. It’s flavorful and great over the bucatini. The vinegar was an interesting touch. I was a bit skeptical about it, since most people like, if anything, to sweeten their tomato sauce. But it really did work, adding a rich tang that complemented the tomato. Give it a try!
You can get gluten-free bucatini made from Bi-Aglut. This brand is not usually available in stores, but can be ordered online from www.quattrobimbi.com
Originally published March 17, 2014