Easy Tortellini Amatriciana (Tortellini all'amatriciana)

This southern Italian dish takes a bit of a twist with tortellini. This lick the plate worthy red sauce is studded with bits of lightly fried pork. It’s so easy to make and this is my take on the classic - done in less than a half hour.

Easy Tortellini Amatriciana

What is in a classic Tortellini Amatriciana sauce?

Let’s talk about the classic version first before I share mine which takes a lot of liberties - I have customized it to my taste as well as what I have easily available. It’s a red pasta sauce based on guanciale (cured pork cheek), pecorino cheese from Amatrice (where this dish originated from), and tomatoes. First things first is the pork in the recipe. Guanciale brings a richness that other pork products simply cannot replicate so if you can get it use it every time - it’s phenomenal. For purists nothing else can stand in - I’m definitely not a purist even when it comes to my own culture’s cooking so I’m definitely not when it comes to others. Pancetta and a good quality bacon are a good enough stand in for me.

Easy Tortellini Amatriciana

You will typically find tortellini Amatriciana served with bucatini but I don’t think it really matters - the sauce is sooo good I think it goes well with any pasta that traps the sauce in and tortellini definitely has the folds to do that plus adds a bit more ‘meat’ or substance to this pasta dish. Onion and the other add ins are really just that - I love them as flavour boosters for the sauce but you can leave them out for an even simpler sauce. I love adding wine to cut though the fat from the pork but that too is optional. It’s also served mostly with Pecorino Romano but my family doesn’t like pecorino so I use what I have and that is Parmesan and is totally fine.

Easy Tortellini Amatriciana

The two biggest no-no’s: I make my pasta very saucy - authentic pasta Tortellini all’Amatriciana usually just has traces of the sauce running through the pasta. We love our sauce though so we went full throttle. If you want your pasta with less sauce I would say just add more tortellini to the sauce and you will have more leftovers. I also broke the rules by adding cream - I know I’m horrible. What can I say? It’s all good though cause it’s one of those things you can leave out if you are strongly opposed. I think the cream makes it even richer.

Easy Tortellini Amatriciana

I said it before I will say it again - you will want to lick your plate clean and want to use this sauce with every pasta you make - that is my warning to you. You will love it - the end!

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Serves 4


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4oz of guanciale sliced (pancetta or thick cut bacon are good substitutes)
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 yellow or red onion, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 13oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 12oz/350g package of tortellini
  • ¼ cup of cream
  • Chopped basil and grated Parmesan for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet/pan over medium heat and cook guanciale/pancetta or bacon until browned and crisp 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add chili flakes, onions, garlic and salt and pepper cook for a couple of minutes until onions are translucent and softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cook for another minute until reduced scraping the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices to pan and cook breaking them up with the back of the spoon for 13-15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile (when sauce is close to being done) heat up a large pot of salted water to boiling and add fresh or frozen tortellini and cook according to package then drain.
  5. Swirl the cream into the sauce if using and then add the tortellini to the pan and toss to coat with sauce. Serve with torn basil and shaved Parmesan.

Easy Tortellini Amatriciana