The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat guanciale. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What guanciale etiquette is

Guanciale etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat guanciale. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve guanciale to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat guanciale at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat guanciale

What you should know about guanciale

Guanciale is an Italian cured meat that is made from the jowl or cheek of the pig.

Guanciale has a distinctive appearance, with a deep red color and white, marbled fat. It has a firm, yet tender texture and a rich, savory flavor that is slightly sweet and smoky.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat guanciale

1) How to store guanciale

Guanciale should be stored in a cool, dry place at a temperature between 50-60°F (10-15°C). It can be stored in the pantry for up to three days, in the refrigerator for up to two months, and in the freezer for up to six months. When storing guanciale, it is important to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out.

Store cooked guanciale in an airtight container in the fridge and consume it within 3-4 days.

2) How to clean guanciale

There is no need to clean guanciale. To wipe off any dust or debris, you can use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. There are no major risks associated with cleaning guanciale, but it is important to handle it with care to prevent it from breaking apart.

If guanciale has a sour or rancid odor or shows signs of mold, it has turned bad and should not be consumed.

3) How to prepare & cook guanciale

Guanciale can be eaten raw or cooked. Before cooking, you should slice it into thin strips. A sharp knife is the best tool for slicing guanciale. You can cook it in a variety of ways, including frying, sautéing, or adding to soups and stews.

Guanciale is common in pasta dishes such as spaghetti alla carbonara and amatriciana. It can also be an ingredient in salads and sandwiches.

Guanciale is not appropriate for guests who are on a vegan diet, but it is suitable for those on a keto or paleo diet. There are no common allergies or food intolerances associated with guanciale. Some religious dietary restrictions may prohibit the consumption of pork products.

4) How to serve & present guanciale

Guanciale is appropriate for both formal and informal meals. It is typically served as a main course or ingredient in pasta dishes.

It is best to serve guanciale at room temperature. You can present it on a platter or in a bowl. A sharp knife is an ideal tool for serving it.

It is often seasoned with black pepper, chili flakes, and garlic.

5) Food and wine to pair guanciale with

Guanciale pairs well with sweet and sour flavors, such as tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. It is ideal with pasta, beans, and vegetables such as peas, asparagus, and spinach. It also pairs well with herbs such as rosemary and thyme, and with fruits such as figs and pears. Avoid pairing guanciale with bitter vegetables such as kale or bitter melon.

Guanciale pairs well with a variety of cheeses, including pecorino romano, Parmigiano Reggiano, and goat cheese. It is not typically paired with dairy products such as milk or cream. You can pair it with other meats such as beef and chicken, but it is not typically paired with fish.

Guanciale pairs well with full-bodied red wines such as Barolo, and Sangiovese. White wines that pair well with guanciale include Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, and Chardonnay. It also goes well with sparkling wine, rosé, and beer.

6) How to eat guanciale

Guanciale can be eaten with a fork and knife. The rind should be removed before cooking or serving. It is also polite to cut the guanciale into small pieces before serving.

Guanciale etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common guanciale etiquette mistakes:

  • 6/10. Not removing the rind before serving.
  • 5/10. Not overcooking or undercooking the guanciale.

Additional information for properly serving guanciale

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

The number of calories in guanciale depends on the size and amount of fat it contains. A typical serving of 50 grams contains around 240 calories, while 100 grams contains approximately 480 calories.

How to buy the best guanciale

A crucial factor in guanciale etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Guanciale is typically available year-round. The best season to buy it is in the winter months when the pigs are slaughtered.

Choose the best

Guanciale can be found in various forms in commerce, including fresh, cured, and dried. It’s commonly sold in specialty food stores, Italian markets, and online retailers.

The most popular varieties of guanciale are made with pork jowl or cheek. Some of the most prized varieties come from specific regions in Italy, such as Amatrice and Norcia.

When buying guanciale, look for pieces that are evenly marbled with fat and have a pleasant aroma. It’s also important to buy from a reputable source to ensure the highest quality.

Alternatives to guanciale

The most common alternatives to guanciale include pancetta, bacon, and prosciutto. Pancetta is similar to guanciale, but it is made from pork belly instead of jowl. Bacon is also made from pork belly, but it is smoked and has a different flavor profile. Prosciutto is made from the hind leg of the pig and is typically sliced thin and served raw.