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Guanciale: The Flavour of Traditional Italian Cuisine


Are your Italian dishes not quite hitting the mark? Well, it's time to spice things up with the lesser-known but oh-so-delicious Italian cured meat, Guanciale.

As a small business we learn a see trends food trends very quickly, the demand for Guanciale has most certainly increased dramatically over recent months. And for good reason! 

This meaty delicacy is the secret ingredient that will take your cooking game to the next level. If you're a true food lover, then you'll want to read on as we explore the world of Guanciale, from its rich history to its mouthwatering uses in the kitchen. So, put down that bland bacon and get ready to discover a true Italian flavour sensation.

History of Guanciale

Guanciale for saleGuanciale has a long and illustrious history that dates back to ancient Rome where pork was a staple on the diet of common people. It was historically made from the jowl, or cheek, of the pig because it was seen as a less acceptable piece of meat. Its name originates from the Italian word "guancia", meaning cheek.

In recent years, guanciale has experienced a spike in popularity as more and more people learn about its distinctive flavour and adaptability. Today, it may be found in specialised food outlets, online, and in a lot of upscale restaurants. It is a must-have item for any food enthusiast due to its robust flavour profile and versatility in the kitchen. Due to its rising demand, guanciale is now being made using a wide range of meats including lamb and wild boar.

How is Guanciale made?

 Traditionally, Guanciale is made from the pork jowl or cheeks and is seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices before being cured for several weeks. The curing process not only preserves the meat but also develops its unique flavour profile. The curing process and seasoning can vary depending on the region. For example, in Umbria, rosemary and wild fennel are added to the seasoning mix, whereas the Calabrian style that we sell utilises flavourful red peppers typical of the local area.




Flavour Profile of Guanciale

How does guanciale compare to bacon or pancetta?

Guanciale is often compared to bacon or pancetta, all three are cured meats made from pork, but there are some key differences that set them apart. Whilst bacon and pancetta are made from the pork belly, Guanciale is made from the pork jowl or cheek. This results in a different fat-to-meat ratio and a distinct flavour profile. It also tends to be saltier, richer, and less sweet than bacon. It is also more flavorful and has a more pronounced pork flavour than bacon and pancetta.

picture showing cross section of guanciale



What does Guanciale taste like?

Guanciale has a rich, intense flavour with a perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness. The texture is soft and tender but with a little chew. It has a high-fat content which gives it a luscious and buttery texture. The curing process gives it a unique taste which is not found in other meats, the spices and herbs used provide a complex and unmatched depth of flavour. The fat is also more flavorful than the fat in bacon, making the fat in itself a delicious addition to any dish.


Cooking with Guanciale

Guanciale on Carbonara

Of course, the most popular dishes that feature guanciale, and I'm sure the reason that most of you have heard of it, include spaghetti alla carbonara, amatriciana, and pasta alla gricia. Guanciale adds a beautifully rich, salty, and slightly spicy flavour to these dishes. It also adds a unique texture, as it is typically cut into thick slices or chunks.


How to cook with Guanciale;

When using guanciale in your cooking, it is important to note that a little goes a long way. A small amount of guanciale can add a real punch of flavour to a dish. It is also important to cook it properly to release its full potential. It is typically fried in a pan over medium-low heat, until the fat is rendered and the meat is crispy.

When adding guanciale to a dish, it is best to add it towards the end of the cooking process to ensure that the flavour is not totally dispersed into the rest of the ingredients.

What dishes can I use guanciale in?

Despite what you might think, and the current trends, it is not just perfect for pasta. there is a wide range of dishes in which Guanciale can make a world of difference.

Some perfect uses for Guanciale in cooking are;

  • in sandwiches, where it can be used as a substitute for bacon or ham.
  • Adds a rich and salty flavour to soups and stews.
  • Used as a topping for pizzas and salads.
  • In frittatas
  • As a topping to soups and stews, adding flavour and texture to the dish. 



In conclusion, guanciale is the ultimate traditional Italian cured meat that adds a rich, salty, and slightly spicy flavour to dishes. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara and amatriciana, to soups, stews, sandwiches and even in risotto and frittatas.

Guanciale can elevate your dishes, the key is to use it wisely, a little goes a long way. Try experimenting with guanciale in your cooking and discover the delicious flavours it can add to your traditional Italian cuisine. With a little creativity and the right techniques, you can unlock the full potential of this unique ingredient in your kitchen.

Buying Guanciale in Swansea or even buying Guanciale in the UK just got a lot easier with our new relationship with Italian Speciality suppliers.

You can buy Guanciale here on our website.

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