Last updated on October 30, 2023

Bucatini 🍝 Traditions and authentic Italian recipes

Gianni from All Italian - Author
Gianni from All Italian

Thicker than spaghetti, hollow inside like a tube. Bucatini is a type of long pasta typical of Rome. In Italy we like it very much, and we prepare them above all with Amatriciana sauce. We make the recipe step-by-step, easy, quick and buonissimo

A short clip of our bucatini recipe. Below we explain all steps in detail

Bucatini is certainly not the perfect pasta shape: it doesn't roll up easily with a fork, it throws the sauce all over the place, and when you eat it, it makes a sucking sound.

But in Italy we love bucatini, especially prepared with the sauce that traditionally accompanies them: the Amatriciana sauce.

Bucatini is a type of long pasta sized like spaghetti, but hollow inside: like long pasta tubes.

Bucatini is typical of the regions of central and southern Italy, and is traditionally made - dried or fresh - with durum wheat semolina.

Bucatini have the peculiarity of being thicker than spaghetti, with the sauce flowing into it.
Eaten with Amatriciana sauce, a tomato sauce with a pork fat component (guanciale or pancetta), they form an exceptional pasta dish and one of the most typical recipes from the Roman cuisine.

If you take a bite of bucatini all'Amatriciana, you will taste a recipe that is richer in both pasta and sauce than the classic spaghetti with tomato sauce.
As they say in Rome: la morte sua, an expression of the dialect of Rome meaning «very good».

On this page of All Italian we share the tradition of bucatini, typical of central Italy; and we prepare with you the bucatini all'Amatriciana recipe, with the original preparation and the ingredients that you can also find outside Italy find.

Sauces that in Italy we eat with bucatini

So in Italy they only eat bucatini with Amatriciana sauce? Of course not. In Italy, bucatini is cooked with many other sauces: for example, it is very tasty with pesto, or with bolognese sauce.

A pan of bucatini pasta with Amatriciana sauce
The Bucatini all'Amatriciana that we make step by step on this page

But in general, the bucatini are more often associated with the typical sauces of central Italy and Lazio: in addition to the Amatriciana, also the Carbonara and Cacio e pepe.

Bucatini all'Amatriciana 🍝 Original Italian recipe

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  • 👩‍🍳 Easy
  • 30 min preparation
  • 🤗 Guaranteed result

We made the bucatini all'Amatriciana recipe step by step according to the original Italian recipe.

We don't just make the sauce: in the meantime we also cook the pasta and mix everything together before serving for a very creamy plate of bucatini. So you know exactly the preparation steps, which you can make yourself in about 30 minutes. 👍

Amatriciana with guanciale or pancetta

The traditional recipe of the Amatriciana sauce contains guanciale, which is the part of the pig between the cheek and the neck.

With guanciale in Rome they make the real Amatriciana (and also the Carbonara).
The guanciale must first be fried in its own fat, after which the tomato pulp is added.

In Italy, and especially in Northern Italy, many families usually make Amatriciana by replacing the guanciale with pancetta. We do this too, because outside Italy we find pancetta, while guanciale is rarer.

Pancetta is less fat than guanciale; for this reason we fry it in plenty of olive oil, and then add the tomato.





Ingredient image Ingredient name Cups Grams Ounces
bucatini Bucatini 6.4 oz 180 g
pancetta-guanciale Pancetta cubes (or Guanciale) 4.2 oz 120 g
olive-oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil 0.5 oz 15 g
peeled-tomatoes Peeled tomatoes 14 oz 400 g
cheese-pecorino Pecorino Romano cheese 2.1 oz 60 g
pepper-red Chilli pepper 1 pepper
wine-white White wine 1 drops

How to cook bucatini

In Italy we don't break spaghetti before cooking it. The same goes for bucatini, which we immerse whole in already boiling salted water.

But bucatini, which is thicker than spaghetti, is more difficult to handle: both during cooking and on the plate when you eat it.

After putting the bucatini in the water, we mix them with a spaghetti spoon; in this way the pasta does not stick.

How much water and how much salt to cook bucatini

In Italy we like to cook pasta in plenty of water; but in order not to use too much water, there is a rule: 1 liter of water (about 1 US quart) for every 3.5 oz / 100 g of pasta.
For every 1 quart / liter of water we use 0.35 oz / 10 g of coarse salt.

We make two portions of bucatini and therefore less than 2 liters of water is sufficient

Bucatini cooking time

The cooking time of bucatini is comparable to that of spaghetti. The bucatini are thicker, but also hollow inside - that's why they cook at the same time.

On the package of Barilla bucatini it is indicated 9 minutes for al dente cooking. Italians love pasta al dente, but they don't trust what it says on the package. After a few minutes that the pasta has been in the pan, it is sometimes better to check the cooking status of the pasta yourself.

A package bucatini from Barilla
A package of Barilla branded bucatini, which you can also find at the grocery store in many countries outside Italy


  1. Fry the pancetta

    For the Amatriciana sauce, use a large frying pan: it must contain both the sauce and, at the end of the preparation, the bucatini.

    Pour the olive oil into the pan and heat over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta blocks.

    Fry the pancetta for a few minutes, so that the fat from the pancetta melts into the olive oil.

    Add a dash of white wine to give pancetta more flavor.

    Also add the finely chopped chilli pepper and fry for a couple more minutes.

  2. Add the tomatoes

    Break up the tomato pulp and add it to the pan.
    Mix thoroughly and turn the heat to low; season with salt and pepper and leave the sauce to boil. Cover the pan with the lid to preserve all the aroma of the tomato.

  3. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil

    Pour cold water into a pot; just under a liter of water per serving is sufficient.
    Warm up the water over medium heat and cover the pot with its lid to boil the water first.

    Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil

  4. Add the salt and the bucatini

    Is the pasta water boiling? It's time to add the coarse salt.

    As soon as you add the salt, the water stops boiling for a little while.
    When the water boils again, put the bucatini.

    👉 Don't break the bucatini: after putting them in the water, mix them for a few seconds with a spaghetti spoon; that way they don't stick.

    Add the salt and the bucatini

  5. Check the cooking status of the bucatini

    While the pasta is cooking, keep the tomato sauce warm over very low heat. If the sauce gets too dry, dilute it with half a ladle of salted pasta water.

    After a few minutes, check the cooking state of the pasta: the best method is to taste it to make sure it is al dente.

    Check the cooking status of the bucatini

  6. Combine bucatini and sauce

    Two minutes before the bucatini are al dente, if they are still a little raw, scoop them up with a spaghetti spoon and put them in the sauce.

    Add another half ladle of pasta water to make the sauce creamier.

    Mix the bucatini and sauce well and continue to cook until the pasta is cooked.

  7. Serving

    Add a pinch of grated Pecorino Romano cheese and serve.

    A tip: when Italians eat bucatini all'Amatriciana, they never wear white clothes. Due to the special shape of the bucatini, as you roll it around a fork, the sauce contained in the pasta jumps in all directions.

Your Bucatini all'Amatriciana is ready. Buon appetito! 🍝

Bucatini all'Amatriciana 🍝 Original Italian recipe
The bucatini dish we made for this recipe

Did you like it? Rate this recipe

In the restaurant in Italy, when you finish eating, the waiter will ask: 🔊 andava tutto bene? (was everything fine?)

Recipe rating Italian translation
🔊Abbastanza buono
🔊Non molto buono
🔊Non buono
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Learning Italian 🇮🇹

Like many other types of Italian pasta, the name bucatini in Italian is plural. Just like spaghetti and maccheroni.

Bucatini, in the plural, are the pieces of bucatino (singular) on the plate.

That's why you read on the pages of All Italian sometimes «Bucatini are tasty» or «Spaghetti are ready», in the plural. For us Italians it's a bit counterintuitive to use the singular when we talk about pasta.

The Italian words we use on this page:

🔊 Bucatini Bucatini
🔊 Spaghetti Spaghetti
🔊 Amatriciana Amatriciana

The difference between bucatini, bigoli and spaghetti

🔊 Spaghetti, 🔊 bucatini en 🔊 bigoli are all types of long pasta. Of the three, bucatini is the only one with a tube shape, empty inside.

You already know spaghetti; bigoli, on the other hand, is a typical pasta from the Veneto region. It looks like spaghetti, but it's thicker.

Bucatini (from Barilla, right) and spaghetti (from De Cecco, left)
The difference between bucatini (Barilla, right) and spaghetti (De Cecco, left)

Bigoli is a type of pasta from Northern Italy: that is why in the original recipe it is made with soft wheat flour, instead of the durum wheat semolina traditionally used. is used in the south of the Italian peninsula.

Bigoli has another characteristic: the surface is rougher than spaghetti and bucatini and therefore they retain the sauce well.

The tradition of fresh bucatini in Italy

Today Italians commonly eat dried bucatini, the ones from the supermarket. But fresh bucatini have been made in the regions of southern Italy for two thousand years, especially in Naples and Sicily.

How bucatini were made without modern tools

How do you make bucatini without modern tools? Maestro Martino da Como, the most important European cook of the 15th century, describes it directly for us.
In the book De arte Coquinaria per vermicelli e maccaroni siciliani, Martino da Como explains how to make Sicilian maccaroni: you roll the dough around the stick, which you then remove: the hole remains.

The square section of the stick serves to create a firmer tube, into which the sauce enters and mixes well with the pasta.

The first page of the book
The first page of the book "De arte culinaria" by Maestro Martino da Como Foto: Martino di Rossi

Pellegrino Artusi's bucatini

Often on our pages we mention Pellegrino Artusi, writer and gastronome of the twentieth century and key figure of Italian cuisine.

In his book The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (La Scienza in Cucina e l'Arte di Mangiare Bene in Italian), probably the most important recipe book of Italian cuisine, Artusi also includes bucatini.

Artusi writes two recipes for «Neapolitan macaroni» (Maccheroni alla napoletana), one of which contains «long macaroni»: what we now call bucatini. Artusi makes the «long macaroni» with tomato sauce and butter, but specifies that "penne can be used as an alternative, indeed it will absorb the sauce better".

Bucatini in the contemporary kitchen

Nowadays bucatini is mainly associated with the Amatriciana sauce.
As Oretta Zanini De Vita points out in the book Enciclopedia della Pasta, it is rare for a type of Italian pasta to be associated with a specific sauce, such as the Amatriciana.

We agree: Bucatini and Amatriciana live in symbiosis. Amatriciana is also delicious with spaghetti, as in the tradition of Amatrice, or with macaroni (the large maccheroni from Rome, different from the small ones that are called macaroni here in the Netherlands) . But the iconic dish is the Bucatini all'Amatriciana.

Artisanal Bucatini from the first pasta factory in Amatrice
Artisanal Bucatini from the first pasta factory in Amatrice Foto: Pastificio Strampelli

Bucatini, Rome and the Romanesco dialect

In Rome they have an alternative name for bucatini, namely «abbotta straccioni». It is an expression of the Roman dialect, the Romanesco, which means to appease the poor. But not quite in the charitable sense of the word.

On the plate, bucatini take up a lot of space, but there is a lot of air between them. The restaurateurs of Rome could therefore ask a high price for a dish that actually contained little pasta.

Bucatini in America

Bucatini is also one of the favorite pastas in the United States. In 2020, along with the shortage of toilet paper, bucatini started running out in supermarkets - due to the delay in freight transport.
The bucatini shortage was the focus of a small journalistic investigation that entertained pasta lovers in America and Italy.

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Over All Italian

Hi! We are Italian expats and have been living abroad for years, currently in the Netherlands. Wherever we go, we carry part of our tradition with us. And we often notice that Italy, its heritage and its lifestyle, are very popular.
Now that we understand a little better the culture of the countries we live in, we want to offer an account with original content about our home country.
We are also writing this blog to practice English, so you will find our writing a little «creative» at times. Grazie mille!