Pasta carbonara is an indulgent yet surprisingly simple recipe. Made with pancetta (or bacon) and plenty of Parmesan, this recipe takes only 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish!
Spaghetti alla carbonara. Luscious and wonderfully indulgent, pasta carbonara takes as long to make as it does to cook the pasta.
The ingredients are simple—just spaghetti (or another long pasta), and the carbonara is made with pancetta or bacon, eggs, Parmesan, a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
The silky carbonara sauce is created when the beaten eggs are tossed with the hot pasta and a little fat from the pancetta or bacon.
Did I already mention indulgent? Yes, this is not a make-it-everyday recipe. This is an I’ve-been-eating-my-kale-for-weeks-and-now-I-want-to-splurge recipe.
But heck, if you are going to splurge, you may as well do it right with pasta carbonara.
Video: How to Make Pasta Carbonara
The Trick to Good Carbonara
The trick to making a successful carbonara?
Stirring the egg mixture quickly into the pasta which should be hot enough to “cook” the egg to make a sauce but not so hot as to make it curdle.
Getting carbonara just right can take some practice so don’t despair if your carbonara sauce is a little lumpy the first time you make it.
Some people add cream to their carbonara. It’s not traditional, but you can certainly do this, and make an even creamier sauce for the pasta. Personally, I think it’s rich enough without it. Enjoy!
What is Carbonara, Really?
Carbonara is one of Rome’s four classic pastas (cacio e pepe, amatriciana, and gricia are the others). There are a slew of theories about its possible origins, including:
- It was invented by Italian carbonari (charcoal workers) who prepared the dish on their shovels over a fire.
- The name refers to the ground black pepper in the dish that resembles flecks of coal (carbone means charcoal in Italian).
- It was a marrying of traditions between American soldiers in Italy during World War II and their bacon and egg rations with the local pasta dishes.
What distinguishes carbonara from other pasta dishes is its technique of combining eggs, hard cheese, cured pork, and black pepper into a rich, silky sauce.
This recipe calls for raw eggs that are gently cooked by the hot sauce. If you prefer, you can use pasteurized eggs instead.
Tips for Making the Best Carbonara
The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity, yet it can take a little practice to get it just right.
- Prepare ahead: Since this dish comes together so quickly, and timing is crucial, be sure to have all of your ingredients and equipment ready to go from the start.
- Temper the eggs: Working quickly after draining the pasta is paramount to having success. To streamline things, have the beaten eggs at the ready in a bowl, and quickly whisk in a few tablespoons of reserved hot pasta cooking water to temper them. This makes them less likely to curdle once you toss them with the cooked pasta. Then toss the pasta with the tempered eggs in the still-warm cooking pot, which will help the mixture stay warm enough to melt the cheese.
- Use high-quality cheese: Set down the processed cheese shaker! For this dish, it’s key to use real, high-quality Parmesan cheese. Trust us, this recipe is worth it. If you’re going to indulge, why not do it right?
- Difficulty: Easy
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Serving: 4 people
- Cost: Low
For those who know Rome well, Vicolo della Scrofa is one of the most characteristic streets, rich in symbolism. It seems that the first Carbonara was made in 1944 in a trattoria there, hence the name of the alley. The most reliable story in fact relates the encounter between the ingredients available to the American soldiers and the imagination of a Roman cook. The result was the prototype of spaghetti alla carbonara: eggs, bacon (later guanciale) and cheese. Gradually the recipe evolved to the one we all know and love today and we can appreciate it in our Roman (and voracious!) friends’ homes, in a trattorias or in starred restaurants of the capital alike, throughout Italy and abroad, in countless versions: with or without pepper, with one yolk per person or the addition of at least one whole egg, with guanciale or strips of bacon. The carbonara sauce is prepared in a matter of minutes. Just think that all you need is spicy guanciale cut into strips, a golden cream made with yolks (in our version) and a lot of grated Pecorino cheese. With its simplicity and the richness of ingredients, the recipe for spaghetti carbonara is closely related to two other cornerstones of genuine Italian cuisine: the amatriciana and the gricia! Take a dip into popular Rome with us, discover how to make very creamy spaghetti carbonara, and let us know if you like our version!
How to prepare Spaghetti Carbonara (Spaghetti with guanciale and eggs)
To prepare spaghetti carbonara start by putting a pot of salted water on the burner to cook the pasta. In the meantime, remove the pork rind from the guanciale 1 and cut it first into slices and then into strips about 1/2″ (1cm) 2 thick. The removed rind can be reused to flavor other things. Put the pieces into a non-stick pan 3 and brown for about 15 minutes over medium heat, being careful not to burn it or it will smell too strong.
Meanwhile, put spaghetti in boiling water 4 and cook for the time indicated on the package. In the meantime, pour the yolks into a bowl 5 , add most of the Pecorino cheese needed for the recipe and the remaining part will be used just before serving.
Season with black pepper 7 and whip by hand 8 . Add a tablespoon of cooking water to dilute the mixture and stir 9 .
In the meantime the guanciale will be cooked, turn off the burner and set it aside 10 . Drain the pasta al dente directly into the pan with the guanciale 11 and stir it briefly to season it. Remove from heat and pour the mixture of eggs and pecorino cheese 12 into the pan. Mix quickly to combine.
To make it very creamy, if necessary, you can add a little cooking water to your pasta 13 . Serve spaghetti carbonara immediately with the remaining pecorino cheese 14 and ground black pepper 15 on top.
We recommend eating spaghetti carbonara right away.
No type of storage is recommended.
What can you add to spaghetti carbonara? First of all, respecting your taste in the kitchen is always very important! If you’re still not sure, here are some very good alternatives. For example, as an alternative to spaghetti you can also use rigatoni or mezze maniche pasta, and instead of the guanciale, try bacon strips with oil or butter. Or replace the pecorino cheese or mix it with grated parmesan cheese. And finally, to make your carbonara even more creamier, there will be no need to add cream! You can simply add a little cooking water to the pasta or use a combination of whole eggs and yolks: try to find the consistency you prefer! We used spaghetti No. 3, but you can also try spaghetti No. 5 and Spaghettoni pasta!
Discover how to make superb spaghetti carbonara. This cheesy pasta dish is an Italian favourite and with the right technique, you can make it perfect every time
- 100g pancetta
- 50g pecorino cheese
- 50g parmesan
- 3 large eggs
- 350g spaghetti
- 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 50g unsalted butter
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- STEP 1
Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.
Finely chop the 100g pancetta, having first removed any rind. Finely grate 50g pecorino cheese and 50g parmesan and mix them together.
Beat the 3 large eggs in a medium bowl and season with a little freshly grated black pepper. Set everything aside.
Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add 350g spaghetti and when the water comes back to the boil, cook at a constant simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until al dente (just cooked).
Squash 2 peeled plump garlic cloves with the blade of a knife, just to bruise it.
While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the pancetta with the garlic. Drop 50g unsalted butter into a large frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the pancetta and garlic.
Leave to cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the pancetta is golden and crisp. The garlic has now imparted its flavour, so take it out with a slotted spoon and discard.
Keep the heat under the pancetta on low. When the pasta is ready, lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the pancetta. Don’t worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don’t throw the pasta water away yet.
Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later.
Take the pan of spaghetti and pancetta off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese. Using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn’t scramble, and everything is coated.
Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don’t want it wet, just moist. Season with a little salt, if needed.
Use a long-pronged fork to twist the pasta on to the serving plate or bowl. Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a grating of black pepper. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water and the glossy sauciness will be revived.
If you’d like to make this pasta for four people, double the recipe, but transfer the pasta back into the pot used for cooking it and then toss it with the eggs and cheese.
- Kosher salt
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. fatty pancetta or guanciale, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-1/2 x 1/2-inch rectangles
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 large eggs, chilled
- 1/2 lb. imported dried spaghetti (I like Setaro brand; avaiable online)
- 1/2 cup lightly packed, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Calories (kcal) : 810
- Fat Calories (kcal): 310
- Fat (g): 34
- Saturated Fat (g): 10
- Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4.5
- Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15
- Cholesterol (mg): 255
- Sodium (mg): 1530
- Carbohydrates (g): 89
- Fiber (g): 6
- Protein (g): 34
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.
In a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta or guanciale and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. (If the meat is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to medium low.) Add the onion and continue to cook until it’s soft and golden and the meat is crisp, about 5 minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully spoon off all but about 2 Tbs. of the fat. Add 1 Tbs. water to the pan and scrape any brown bits from the bottom.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water according to package directions until it’s just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain the spaghetti. Transfer the spaghetti to the skillet, set it over medium heat, and toss with tongs to coat the spaghetti with the fat and finish cooking to al dente, about 1 minute. If the pasta is too dry or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add 1 or 2 tsp. of the pasta water. You want the bottom of the pan to be just barely wet. If the pan is too dry, the eggs will scramble when you add them.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the eggs over the pasta, tossing quickly and continuously until the eggs thicken and turn to the consistency of a thin custard, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Tossing constantly is important, as it prevents the eggs from scrambling.)
- The sauce should be smooth and creamy, and it should cling to the pasta. Add a little more pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Stir in the Parmigiano and season to taste with salt and pepper (you may not need additional salt, as both guanciale and pancetta can be very salty). Serve immediately.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces thick cut pancetta, cut into ¼ inch dices
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
- 2 egg yolks
- salt to taste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound (454 grams) spaghetti
- ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Place a 10-to 12- inch skillet over medium heat and when it is hot, add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook until the pancetta softens and releases some fat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens and becomes translucent and the mixture becomes powerfully fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add the pepper, the wine and cook until about half of it is evaporated, about 4 minutes.
In a bowl, whip egg yolks well and add pancetta and onions. Keep warm.
Fill a 10-quart stockpot with 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente.
Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bowl. Toss until the sauce and pasta are well combined. If the pasta looks dry, add the reserved cooking water about 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing to combine between additions. Transfer to a serving platter, add the Pecorino, serve immediately.
Jan 21, 2022 · Modified: Jan 21, 2022 by Victoria · This post may contain affiliate links. Read our full disclosure linked in the footer. · 1 Comment
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish hailing from Rome. It only requires 5 ingredients (plus salt for the pasta water) and takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish. It’s perfect for any weeknight when you’re craving pure comfort.
(This recipe was originally published in March 2011, but was updated with new photos and content in 2022).
The name spaghetti alla carbonara loosely translates to “spaghetti in the style of the charcoal maker,” “charcoal maker’s spaghetti,” or “coal miner’s spaghetti.” There are various theories to the dish’s origins and as to how it got its name, but one suggests it was created as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers.
Spaghetti alla carbonara features a silky, rich, unctuous sauce made with eggs and cheese. It’s such a quick dish to put together, and requires barely more time than to boil the pasta.
The original, authentic recipe for carbonara only requires 5 ingredients:
- Pecorino Romano cheese
- Black pepper
Outside of Italy there are many liberties taken with the dish. I have included some suggestions for common substitutions to these ingredients. Parmigiano-Reggiano is not authentic but is used often in this dish outside of Italy. Meanwhile, bacon and pancetta are also very popular replacements for the guanciale. Make this dish as authentic as you’d like or use the other suggestions that I provide based on what you have or can find.
- Cured Pork: Guanciale (which comes from pork jowls/cheeks rather than pork belly) is the traditional cured pork component for spaghetti alla carbonara. However bacon and pancetta are both popular and easier (cheaper) to find in the United States. Both are a bit less fatty than guanciale, with bacon providing an additional smoky flavor and pancetta being salty but not smoky. Any of the 3 would work in this recipe.
- Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is perhaps the most common and popular cheese used in carbonara in the United States. Pecorino Romano, however, is more traditional to the original Roman dish (and comes from the same region in Italy). You could technically use either of these cheeses in this recipe. Note that Pecorino Romano is a lot saltier than Parmigiano-Reggiano, so I would not substitute it at a 1:1 ratio for such a large volume of cheese. If using Pecorino Romano, reduce it by ⅓ and use ⅔ cup grated Romano cheese instead of a whole cup to get a similar amount of saltiness in the finished dish.
- Eggs: Beaten eggs are tossed with the hot spaghetti and guanciale off the heat, therefore these eggs could be considered undercooked. They’re heated just enough by the heat of the pan and other ingredients to thicken and coat the pasta. Please note that consuming raw or undercooked eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.
- Pasta: Spaghetti is the most prominent pasta shape for this classic dish, but linguine, fettuccine, bucatini, and rigatoni are other popular options you could try.
- Garlic (Optional): Garlic is a variation on the classic carbonara and is not part of the original, authentic recipe. It’s much more common in American adaptations of the dish. With that said, I think it adds great flavor so I include it as an optional ingredient. Of course you can leave it out if you prefer.
How to make it
Beat the eggs with the cheese and black pepper. The mixture should be fairly thick. Set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook to al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, add the guanciale (or bacon or pancetta) to a cold skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic (if using) and cook for another 15 to 30 seconds, stirring. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Off the heat, add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan of guanciale, and pour the egg mixture over the top.
Toss the spaghetti with the eggs and guanciale, quickly so the eggs thicken and coat the spaghetti evenly, but do not scramble. Serve spaghetti alla carbonara immediately.
Expert tips and FAQs
Note that the step-by-step photos above are of a half recipe (making 2 portions) using pancetta. Your skillet may look more full than mine when making the full recipe.
I’ve tried this recipe using a whole cup of Pecorino Romano and found it was too salty for my liking (especially because the bacon/pancetta/guanciale is also salty), but everyone is different. Feel free to add more if you prefer.
No. Although some recipes include cream, it’s perhaps the least traditional ingredient you could add to your carbonara. The dish gets its creaminess from the eggs, cheese and rendered pork fat. Adding cream is unnecessary and would make the dish too rich and heavy.
No. Unfortunately this is not a dish that can be made ahead of time. It tastes best when you eat it immediately after making it. It also does not reheat well. I would suggest only making as much spaghetti alla carbonara as you plan to eat that day. It’s so simple to make and you can easily reduce the recipe as needed. Then just make another batch whenever the craving hits.
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Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of the most representative dishes of Italian cuisine. This emblematic recipe summarizes its philosophy: you can make a culinary masterpiece with a few simple, sumptuous ingredients.
What is Carbonara?
Carbonara is a dish of pasta seasoned with browned guanciale (a kind of bacon), pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and beaten eggs, which have to cook only with the heat released from pasta.
Let’s say what ingredients are not included in the authentic Italian pasta alla carbonara recipe. First of all, any cream is banished at all costs, such as onion. They are two of the biggest insult to culinary art.
Bacon, pancetta, speck: they should not be used. Guanciale is the real deal, pure greasy magic, and if you take away its golden fat, pasta alla Carbonara becomes flat and dull.
If you are on a diet or do not find guanciale, do not make pasta alla Carbonara, it is elementary: sometimes nothing is better than something.
Today we will offer you the original Roman recipe of pasta carbonara, where guanciale rules. All the flavor, we could say, “the juice,” comes from this little jewel.
Guanciale is the part of the pig that starts from the cheek and arrives at the end of the neck, which is reserved for three months of aging after being salted and peppered.
But back to our pasta alla carbonara: the recipe is straightforward, but not simple, so do not worry, we will reveal all the secrets to make the perfect carbonara dish.
A couple of words about the history of Carbonara: there is no need to disturb Tullio Servilio nor the sect of the Carbonari for the birth of this dish, which probably was born during the Second World War when an unknown chef mixed the typical ingredients of the English breakfast (eggs and bacon) as dressing for a simple dish of spaghetti.
Ingredients for making spaghetti carbonara
- 600 grams of spaghetti
- 5 eggs
- 250 grams of guanciale
- black pepper
- 2 handfuls of Romano cheese (70 grams)
How to make the perfect pasta carbonara
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil, then add salt.
Cut guanciale into thin strips.
Brown it in a pan after having dusted with pepper. You do not need oil: guanciale is quintessential of fattiness.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, season with pepper and 3/4 of Pecorino cheese, then mix with a fork.
Cook the pasta al dente, drain, and season in the pan (well heated) with guanciale’s fat.
Turn off the heat and submerge with the beaten eggs, and stir, adding the rest of the Pecorino cheese.
Too dry: mission failed! Pay attention to the consistency of the eggs. They need to be creamy but not fluid: easy to say, but not make. If the pasta is too dry, don’t add Pecorino anymore.
Don’t add water. There are no ways out: if the proportions are wrong or the pasta is too hot, the dish is gone. Once you have put the eggs on the spaghetti, you can’t come back. Next time you’ll do better.
Now you have only to put some spaghetti on your plate, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and enjoy one of the dishes that has made the history of Italian cuisine.
What wine matches well with spaghetti carbonara?
Carbonara has flavors and fat in abundance, so the wine must be floral and sharp to cleanse the palate and smooth out the fat. Cobelli winery’s Gewurztraminer was born to dance with the Carbonara.
If you want to pair a cocktail, take a chance on Vesper.
I’ve only recently become aware of just how delicious and astoundingly simple this dish really is. Made from fairly regular cupboard ingredients—and perfect when you’re feeling lazy—this is the simplest meal I know that still feels like cooking. A true ten-minute meal, most of which will be spent waiting.
Look at that!
There are a lot of different takes on Carbonara out there. Most of them are wrong. In fact, this of mine isn’t quite exactly right. Carbonara doesn’t contain cream, or spinach, or peas, or anything like that. There are only four simple ingredients involved.
The most traditional take uses guanciale instead of pancetta, and Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan, but getting hold of those during lockdown in the UK isn’t going to happen…
You Will Need
- 3× egg yolks
- 45g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
- 150g pancetta, diced
- 200g spaghetti
Only four ingredients!
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Fill one pan with salted water and turn bring it up to the boil. Place the pancetta (or guanciale if yer’ going fancy) into a cold frying pan and leave well alone.
The moment the water starts to boil, you need to do three things:
- Drop the pasta in the pan
- Turn the pancetta on high
- Set a timer for 8 minutes
While the pasta and pancetta are cooking, combine the egg yolks and parmesan in a bowl, season heavily with pepper, and mix together to form a thick paste. Use a little more pepper than you normally would—it’s a key flavour in this dish.
When your timer goes off, remove both pans from the heat. Using tongs—it’s imperative not to drain the pasta as we’ll need the pasta-water in a moment—transfer all of the spaghetti to the frying pan and mix well with the pancetta and its rendered fat.
Next, add the yolk mixture a spoonful at a time to the frying pan and combine. We’ve taken the pan off of the heat so as not to scramble the egg—the residual heat should be more than enough to cook it through without causing any damage.
If at any point the pasta–egg mixture seems too thick, add a spoonful of the pasta-water to loosen it all up. You’re aiming for a glossy coating on each strand of spaghetti.
Done. That was easy. Serve in a preheated bowl and garnish with an inordinate amount more pepper and Parmesan.
The simplicity in this luxuriously creamy spaghetti carbonara is thanks to just four ingredients and a hearty dose of black pepper.
Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
“Here. Smell this. Does it smell like it’s gone bad to you?”
I HATE hearing those words in my kitchen. It means I’ve let good food go bad.
One of the things I struggle most with as a food blogger is food waste. Not of other people’s, but of my own.
Way too often than I want to admit, I find produce in the crisper that has turned into a science fair project. Or I make two or three dinner recipes in the middle of the day and with the best of intentions I save them to eat for dinner duriung the week.
And then I forget about them. Or my husband and daughter want something different for dinner. And by the beginning of the next week, those entire meals end up wasted.
I’m diligently working on getting better at that. It disgusts me how easy it is for me to disregard food in this way.
Because 1 in 7 Americans currently struggle with hunger. That’s 48.1 million people including 15.3 million children and 5.1 million seniors.
Those people don’t have the luxury of using 4 or 5 avocados to perfect their skills at making avocado roses. Or tossing the mega pack of chicken breasts in the garbage because they didn’t get around to cooking the whole package before the chicken started perfuming the fridge with that oh-too-familiar smell.
Whitney of the blog Jew Hungry asked me to join her and other food bloggers and contribute a post to highlight the plight of so many hungry Americans who simply can’t afford to feed themselves and their families when they have about $5 in their wallet for dinner.
So that was her challenge. To create a meal that costs less than $5 as part of her Foodies Fighting Hunger challenge. Whitney hopes this challenge will bring more exposure to the national nonprofit organization MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the nonprofit working to end hunger in the United States and Israel for all faiths and backgrounds.
“As the nation’s economic recovery continues, government programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps) provide a vital lifeline that helps people receive the sustenance they need to get back on their feet. 40% of households receiving SNAP benefits include at least one working person. The average benefit provided by SNAP equates to roughly $1.40 per person per meal – hardly an extravagant amount, and certainly not enough to do anything beyond simply get by.”
Thinking of a recipe that fit the bill was my challenge, but given that it’s one that millions are tasked with every day, I was more than ready to accept it.
What Is Carbonara?
If you’ve never slurped up a plate of pasta carbonara before, you’re in for a treat. Essentially, it’s a pasta dish that consists of spaghetti coated in a creamy cheese sauce and speckled with bits of bacon. This easy carbonara sauce gets its creaminess from eggs — don’t worry, you’re not eating raw eggs here. They get cooked when mixed with the piping hot pasta.
In the scheme of things, spaghetti carbonara is fairly inexpensive to make. And uncomplicated. And the ingredients have a long fridge life so you won’t be found searching for the foul-smelling culprit you forgot about.
Here’s how I spent my $5. I went a little bit over, but considering this meal delivers 6 servings, I feel like it still falls within the challenge’s guidelines.
- Spaghetti pasta: $3.50
- 1/2 dozen eggs: $.60
- 6 ounces bacon: $2.75
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese: $1.50
- Salt and Pepper: I already had on hand
How to Make Carbonara
The key to making spaghetti alla carbonara is to move quickly. You’ll first need to cook the spaghetti until just al dente. While the spaghetti cooks, heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the bacon until lightly browned.
Separate the eggs — place the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Stir the grated cheese into the whites.
Add the reserved pasta water to the bacon and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Quickly add the hot pasta to the bacon mixture and toss well to combine before stirring in the egg white and cheese mixture.
Divide the spaghetti carbonara among your bowls and drop an egg yolk into the center of each portion — be sure to stir the yolk into the pasta so it will cook!
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
Yes, although long, skinny pastas work best when making pasta carbonara.
Do I Have to Use the Raw Eggs?
Absolutely! The eggs are crucial to making creamy spaghetti carbonara. Note that the eggs get cooked when combined with the hot pasta. So even though the spaghetti alla carbonara is coated in a creamy sauce, no part of the dish is “raw” anymore.
Tips for the Best Carbonara Recipe
Spaghetti carbonara has only four main ingredients, so the quality of those ingredients will dictate its level of deliciousness. For the purpose of keeping to my budget I used bacon for this recipe. For a more traditional version, pancetta or guanciale can be used.
Making this sauce one that coats the pasta instead of one that ends up as pasta with scrambled eggs, you’ll want to work quickly and efficiently and be sure your pasta is hot, hot, hot. I’ve followed Mario Batali’s lead in separating the eggs and mixing all of the whites with the cheese, actually cooking the sauce in the hot pasta. The yolks are served on each of the dished pasta portions for the guests to mix in themselves and cook into the hot pasta. It makes a fun presentation.
Be sure to adequately salt your water to flavor your pasta with at least 3 tablespoons of salt or so it tastes like the ocean. It truly does make all the difference.
More Easy Pasta Recipes to Master
- Lighter Penne Alla Vodka
- Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Whole Wheat Pasta
- Mom’s Homemade Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Baked Sausage and Cheese Rigatoni
- Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
|Spaghetti alla Carbonara|
Spaghetti alla carbonara (literally: charcoal burners’ spaghetti in Italian) is an Italian pasta dish made with eggs, pecorino romano, guanciale and black pepper. It was created in the middle of the 20th century. 
Recipes vary, though all agree that pecorino romano, eggs, cured fatty pork and black pepper are the basics. The pork is fried in fat (olive oil or lard). Then, a mixture of eggs, cheese and olive oil is combined with the hot pasta, thereby cooking the eggs. All of the ingredients are then mixed together.    Guanciale is the most traditional cured pork cut for this recipe, but pancetta is a popular substitute.   In the US, it is often made with American bacon.
Cream is not common in traditional Italian recipes, but is common in carbonara recipes from other countries such as the United States   , France, the United Kingdom  , Australia  and Russia (especially Moscow). Italian Chef Luigi Carnacina, however, used cream in his recipe.  Other Anglo/Franco variations on carbonara may include peas, broccoli or other vegetables added for colour.  Yet another American version includes mushrooms. Many of these preparations have more sauce than the Italian versions. 
In all versions of the recipe, raw eggs are added to the sauce and cook with the heat of the pasta.
- 1 Origin and history
- 2 Ingredients
- 3 Utensils
- 4 Procedure
- 5 Serving Notes
- 6 See also
- 7 References
Like most recipes, the origins of the dish are obscure but there are many legends. As ‘carbonara’ literally means ‘coal miner’s wife’, some believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian coal miners. Others say that it was originally made over charcoal grills, or that it was made with squid ink, giving it the color of coal. It has even been suggested that it was created by, or as a tribute to, the “charcoalmen”, a secret society prominent in the unification of Italy. Also, the name may be from a Roman restaurant named Carbonara  
The dish is not present in Ada Boni’s 1927 classic La Cucina Romana, and is unrecorded before the Second World War. It was first recorded after the war as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by American troops. 
- Total Time 40m
- Prep Time 20 m
- Calories 666
Go Mama Mia with this authentic Italian delight coming all the way from Rome, Italy to take you to the next level of mesmerizing flavours. This lusciously wonderful indulgence, spaghetti alla carbonara is prepared with an assortment of ingredients which come together to give you a heavenly experience like never before. Carbonara means a pasta or spaghetti dish which is prepared with pork, eggs, hard cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Being the best comfort food, this specialty of the Italian cuisine calls for simple ingredients along with the ease in the method of preparation. The silky soft and indulgent carbonara sauce is prepared when pasta is tossed with beaten eggs and the fat from the bacon. If you are throwing a bash next week and want to cook something ultra-special, then this delicious spaghetti recipe comes to your rescue. Enchant each of your friend and family members with this yummy delicacy and make them shower you unstoppably with tons of appreciation and compliments . Be it kitty party, anniversary party, birthday party, potluck, game night or any other special event or occasion, this Italian delight will be a big hit at every party and make you the star of the event. Just grab some simple ingredients and precisely follow these steps, and you will get a perfect flavoured spaghetti alla carbonara that you cannot just resist.
Ingredients of Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- 300 gm pasta spaghetti
- 2 egg
- 9 slices bacon
- freshly ground black pepper as required
- kosher salt as required
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon parsley
- coarse sea salt as required
How to make Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Step 1 Cook the pasta spaghetti until tender
To make this yummy recipe, first cook the pasta spaghetti in salted water until it softens. Drain the water and keep the spaghetti aside.
Step 2 Prepare the egg and cheese mixture and whisk well
Meanwhile, take a large sized mixing bowl and combine together Parmesan cheese and egg. Whisk the contents until nicely incorporated.
Step 3 Cook spaghetti in the bacon fat
Now, heat a large skillet over a medium flame. After the skillet is hot enough, put bacon and cook it until it turns crispy or about 8 to 10 minutes. Take out the bacon pieces and keep them aside on a paper towel to drain, while reserving the fat in the skillet itself. To this bacon fat, add garlic and saute for a minute or until fragrant. Add cooked spaghetti and mix well until the spaghetti is entirely coated with the bacon fat. Turn off the heat
Step 4 Stir in egg-cheese mixture and garnish
To the cooked spaghetti, add the egg and cheese mixture and mix vigorously until the mixture turns out to be creamy and cheesy. Add cooked bacon and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish resplendently with extra virgin olive oil, coarse sea salt, Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley
Total: 30 Min. | Active: 30 Min.
Nutritional value / people: 714 kcal
, Fat: 24 g
, Carbohydrate: 90 g
, Protein: 32 g
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Please note: If you adjust the quantities yourself, it may happen that the recipe is not perfect. The quantities and cooking times of the ingredients are not automatically adjusted in the text. If you have any questions about the quantities in this recipe, the culinary professionals at Betty Bossi will be happy to help you:
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To cook the spaghetti
Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente, set aside approx. 100 ml of the cooking water. Drain the pasta, cover and set aside.
Without adding any oil, fry the bacon in a frying pan until crispy, add the spaghetti.
Combine the egg yolks, pecorino and cooking water, season. Add to the spaghetti, remove the pan from the heat. Mix well and serve immediately. Sprinkle with pecorino romano.
Please note: If you adjust the quantities yourself, it may happen that the recipe is not perfect. The quantities and cooking times of the ingredients are not automatically adjusted in the text. If you have any questions about the quantities in this recipe, the culinary professionals at Betty Bossi will be happy to help you:
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less than 30 mins
Rick Stein’s authentic spaghetti carbonara is easy, delicious and wonderfully creamy. But this recipe doesn’t actually contain cream so more healthy!
less than 30 mins
- 400g/14oz spaghetti
- 175g/6oz piece smoked pancetta, rind removed (or use 150g/5oz pancetta cubes)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- handful fresh flatleaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 3 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 50g/1¾oz pecorino sardo maturo (mature Sardinian pecorino), finely grated
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring 4.5 litres/8 pints water to the boil in a large saucepan with 8 teaspoons of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook for 9 minutes, or until al dente.
Meanwhile, cut the pancetta into lardons (short little strips), about 6mm/¼in wide.
Heat a large, deep frying pan over a medium–high heat, add the oil and the pancetta and fry until lightly golden. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for a few seconds, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Drain the spaghetti well and tip into the frying pan with the pancetta, garlic and parsley. Add the beaten eggs and half the cheese and toss together well.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. The heat from the spaghetti will be sufficient to partly cook the egg, but still leave it moist and creamy. Take to the table and serve in warmed pasta bowls, sprinkled with the rest of the cheese.
If you don’t have pancetta, use smoked bacon lardons instead. This recipe can be easily halved to serve 2.
Translating literally as “spaghetti charcoal burners’-style”, the connection between this Roman pasta dish and the region’s coal miners has inspired many an Italian tale. A classic combination of pork, egg, cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino) and black pepper, spaghetti alla carbonara is thought to have been created by the miners (carbonai) in the Apennine mountains who introduced it to Rome on their visits selling coal. Another theory suggests it actually originated in World War II when American servicemen based in Rome had their rations of eggs and bacon prepared by local cooks.
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed with the back of a knife
- 200 g guanciale (pig’s cheek) (see Note) or pancetta, cut into lardons
- 125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
- 400 g spaghetti
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 80 g pecorino, grated, plus extra, to serve
- crusty bread, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 4 minutes or until starting to change colour. Using a slotted spoon, remove garlic. Set aside.
Add guanciale to pan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until starting to brown. Add wine and cook for a further 30 seconds, scraping base of pan to remove any browned bits. Remove from heat and set aside in pan.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain. Reserve 125 ml cooking liquid.
Return pan with guanciale to high heat with 2 tbsp reserved cooking liquid, and cook for 30 seconds or until heated through. Add pasta to pan with remaining 85 ml cooking liquid. Pour over eggs and toss until just combined and eggs have started to set. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide pecorino among bowls. Top with pasta and scatter with extra pecorino. Serve with reserved fried garlic and crusty bread.
• Guanciale, available from selected butchers and delis, is an Italian cured pork.
As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 13, pg58.
Photography by John Laurie
I know there are people out there who think eggs belong on everything.
Mushroom flatbread? Egg. Nachos? Egg. Tuna melt? Yep, even there.
If you’re one of these people, you would probably be delighted to discover that for dinner, bacon, eggs, and cheese were on the menu.
Nope. It’s not what you’re thinking.
Pasta alla carbonara is Rome’s go-to solution for a super-fast supper. It’s not only one of the simplest dishes to make at home, but one that brings together a collection of basic ingredients that are likely already in your fridge.
Has anything bad ever come from whisking together eggs and cheese?
Let’s start there.
Raw eggs as pasta sauce, you ask? Trust me on this. As the silky eggs hit the hot spaghetti, the eggs slowly cook, thicken, and coat every strand to make a velvety sauce.
A hefty handful of coarse black pepper (freshly ground is best) adds heat, while parsley brings brightness.
Carbonara is one of my all-time favorites because it incorporates two of my most cherished cooking tricks.
First, the starchy water.
I’ll never forget watching Rachael Ray as a twenty-something on the treadmill in my parents’ basement. Two episodes of Thirty Minute Meals would come on back-to-back just before dinnertime, and I would faithfully watch each night as I huffed and puffed, trying to work off the weekend’s beer.
I began to notice that whenever Rachael made pasta of any kind, she would keep a mug near the pot.
Like clockwork, just before straining the noodles, she would slosh out a cup of the cooking liquid and cheerfully remind her viewers, “Don’t forget the starchy water!”
This brilliant tip was her way of making sure the sauce would adhere to the pasta. As she splashed in the water, the noodles and sauce would come together and become the carby coalition they were always meant to be.
Not only does the water add a hit of salty flavor, it also acts as glue. And for carbonara, glue is key.
Or rather, cooking water is clutch. You know I mean.
For carbonara, when the hot liquid merges with the eggs and cheese, the dial on the creaminess factor goes to max.
Trick number two: cooking things in something that another thing left behind.
Me either. That was confusing. Let me try again.
Creating depth in a dish is all about layering flavors. If you’re cooking chicken with mushrooms, you probably wouldn’t wipe out your pan in between saute sessions. You’d cook the mushrooms in the same pan where the chicken left behind its delicious brown bits.
The same goes for spaghetti alla carbonara.
Once the meaty bacon has been crisped, its rendered fat is perfumed with the garlic. And that’s not the end of the story.
The spaghetti strands are then infused with the bacon-garlic oil, and just like that, you’ve created the start of a meal that will astound and tickle your taste buds with complexity.
To up the game, play with your pork!
Subtly spiced pancetta stands up perfectly to the pungent ground pepper, and while guanciale (pork jowl) is a little pricier, its rich, unctuous flavor is worth every penny.
For the cheese, classic parmesan is always a winner, but adding sharp, salty pecorino to the mix never hurt anyone.
Bacon, eggs, cheese, and pasta. Has a more beautiful tale ever been told? And they all lived happily ever after.
If you ask a Roman guy which are the first three traditional roman style dishes, he will answer: Bucatini all’Amatriciana (or Amatriciana), Tonnarelli cacio e pepe and Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
Origin of Spaghetti alla Carbonara
The origin of this famous and delicious dish is unknown. According to the legend, a Carbonaro (coal dealer) looking for rest from his work opened a restaurant called “Trattoria del Carbonaro”.
Others claim that the recipe takes its name from traditional dishes prepared by typical lumberjacks during work breaks.
Every chef and also every grandmothers make a different carbonara: there are those who only use the egg yolk, those who use the whole egg, those who pour the eggs into the pan of pasta, others pour the eggs in the bowl.
Some prepare it with the bacon, but in Rome you only use the “guanciale” (pork cheeks)!
Definitely Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most difficult dish to prepare. Altough if it is realized with a few ingredients. The challenge lay in balancing perfectly all ingredients.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara Roman style: the recipe
- 500 g. of spaghetti
- 100 g. of bacon (pork cheek meat)
- 4 eggs (must be fresh)
- grated pecorino and grated parmesan
- extra virgin olive oil
- black pepper (quantity at will)
While boiling water for the pasta (I recommend the amount of water must be at least three times the weight of the dough). Fry the bacon, cut into strips, with the oil in a frying pan until the bacon is crisp and “camel” colored.
In a plastic bowl mix the grated cheese and egg yolk salt and pepper.
Once the pasta is al dente, drain it without with the colander, transfer it from the boiling water to the pan with the bacon flavor making it on the fire for a few seconds (stirring quickly).
Add the pasta straight from the frying pan into the bowl, flip it over quickly and continuously.
Eggs melt creating a cream. Serve immediately.
You fail if the egg looks like an omelet crumbled, so is really important that everything is made at the same time.
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Posted on Last updated: February 19, 2020
There’s nothing not to love about bacon, cheese, and pasta that make up this classic and easy Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe. It is the perfect dish for pairing with a crisp and refreshing Arneis wine.
This month, the Wine Pairing Weekend theme came from Val at Girl’s Gotta Drink. She challenged the group to get to know Arneis, a favorite summer wine from the Piedmont region in northeastern Italy.
What is Arneis?
Arneis literally translates to “little rascal,” and it gets the name because it is a grape that is difficult to grow. It has been grown for centuries in this region of Italy, initially as a blending grape, but more recently as a stand alone for some incredibly unique wines.
Arneis are typically considered the perfect wine to transition from summer to autumn because they have the crisp freshness of a summer wine, while being drier and more robust in flavor than most commonly thought of ‘summer’ wines. However, with all that strong fruit flavor and crispness, we would also consider it a perfect drier summer wine for sipping alone or pairing with food.
This wonderfully balanced wine can be a bit tricky to find in some parts of the States. However, we were in luck because the wine connoisseurs at Wine Maniacs Bar & Bistro also sell wine by the bottle, and these guys have a nose for unique, hard to find wines. We knew we could count on them to deliver a bottle of the elusive Arneis for this challenge, and they did not disappoint. (Although, we do have to apologize for snagging their last bottle of Ceretto.) They also gave us the opportunity to try three varieties of Arneis from the Negro Family.
We found the Arneis to be a beautifully complex wine. Each bottle showcased the characteristic crispness, but brought unique variances in the levels of dry tannin and bright acidity, changing the way the wine would play on your tongue. With so much complexity, the wines were wonderful alone because they continued to change throughout the sip and after, as they lingered. Paired with food, new elements of fruit and creamy smoothness showed themselves in the wines.
After a few sips, we could already see why Arneis is considered the perfect wine to sip as a starter, with an array of light appetizers. However, for today’s pairing, we wanted to go with a classically Italian main dish. We were thinking that our bottle of 2011 Ceretto Blange Lange would work quite nicely with a lighter pasta or a fish dish, and eventually we settled on the Roman classic: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara: a lighter pasta dish?
At its most basic level, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a pretty, well, basic pasta preparation. The essential ingredients are panchetta (or bacon), garlic, eggs, cheese, and (of course) pasta. That doesn’t necessarily sound heavy to me.
But, some recipes will tell you to use only egg yolks with a heavy-handed drizzle of olive oil and a good glug or two of cream while you’re at it. Top it all off with an overly heavy hand on the cheese, and we’re really starting to pack the heaviness into the dish.
But, let’s get back to the basics.
All of the key ingredients bring lots of flavor to the dish, so there isn’t a need to go over and above in the name of making something tasty. It already has that covered.
Making Our Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe
We started off by sauteing panchetta (or bacon) and garlic until it was crispy and the entire house smelled like heaven. Then we added some cooked pasta, and tossed it all around with the garlicy panchetta goodness. We did leave the fat from cooking the panchetta in the pan to add a bit of extra richness to our sauce. But, we found the end result to be slightly too greasy for our tastes. The next time we make it, we will drain most of the grease from the pan before adding the pasta, leaving only just enough to finely coat the noodles.
Adding the egg and cheese mixture to create the sauce can be the tricky part. You don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs, you want a nice, creamy sauce! The trick is to add the egg mixture to the pan while it is off of the heat and to add it slowly. By adding it little by little as you toss the pasta, you are coating the pasta with a smooth layer the eggs as they cook from the residual heat of the pan. If necessary, once you have added all of your egg mixture and tossed it well, you can turn the burner on very low to thicken up the last of the liquid. And, keep tossing that spaghetti, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!
We topped our carbonarra with fresh chopped parsley. The herby-ness of the parsley balances out the salt of the panchetta and cheese, creating a wonderful play of flavors.
A simple pasta dish with few ingredients, we found that the Carbonara paired incredibly well with the lightness of the Ceretto Blange Lange. The wine was incredibly fruit forward and smooth, but with a definite dryness and just enough acidity to cleanse the palate and cut through the cheese and panchetta. The result was a beautifully complementary pairing.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is my all-time favorite pasta dish! This is the classic Italian Spaghetti alla Carbonara dish that is much loved by pasta lovers around the world. This pasta dish is considered the food of the people!
This is the perfect Pasta Carbonara recipe which is easy to follow and so delicious!
History: It is thought that Spaghetti all Carbonare originated in the region of Lazio, around Rome. Some sources believe the dish was developed at the end of World War II, when American soldiers stationed in Rome brought rations of eggs and bacon to Italian friends who turned them into this pasta sauce. Other sources suggest that it originated with coal miners (carbonari) in the region.
- 1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti or fettuccine pasta
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano chees, divided
- 1/4 loosely-packed cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground or to taste
- 1/2 cup prosciutto or pancetta or thin-cut bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, extra-virgin
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoon coarse salt
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Learn How To Cook Pasta Properly.
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and when the sauce is finished. As this recipe uses raw eggs, which are essentially cooked by tossing with hot pasta, it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture. The heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
In a large bowl (that will also hold the pasta later) lightly beat the eggs. Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, chopped basil, and black pepper; whisk to combine well and then set aside.
In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add prosciutto (pancetta or bacon) and cook, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to brown. Add garlic and continue cooking, stirring continuously, for 1 minute until the meat is crisp. Add wine and cook to reduce liquid to about half. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the pasta is properly cooked to al dente, remove pasta pot from the heat. Drain in a colander, leaving a little of the moisture still clinging. I usually drain off approximately 1/4 cup of the pasta water and set aside in case my Spaghetti Carbonara is too dry and needs additional moisture.
Immediately pour the hot pasta into the bowl with the egg mixture, stirring well to thoroughly coat the pasta with the egg mixture, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute (stir well to prevent the eggs from scrambling – remember the heat from the pasta will partly cook the egg and melt the cheese). If the pasta is too dry or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water (you do not want it wet, just moist) . The sauce should be smooth and creamy, and it should cling to the pasta.
Pour cooked prosciutto (pancetta or bacon mixture) on top of cooked and drained pasta and toss to combine thoroughly.
Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Add salt and additional black pepper to taste.
Pass a bowl of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese with the dish.
by Oliver Hagen July 27, 2018 2 min read
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Mum tried this Spaghetti Alla Carbonara with a friend recently and has been raving about it since. She kept saying ‘Olly, this would be so delicious with your dry cured bacon. Bring some pasta home from the shop and Madeline’s eggs and we’ll cook it.’ And you know what, when Mum says ‘eat this, I think you’ll like it’ you do as your told.
This recipe is for Mumma Sue who knows a good thing when she tries it.
Dry Cured Bacon Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 fresh red chillies, split and seeds removed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
Combine the oil, garlic, chillies and dry cured bacon in a small frying pan and cook over a low heat until the dry-cured bacon has released most of its fat, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn; it must stay a very pale straw colour. Regulate the heat so the dry cured bacon and pasta will be cooked at the same time. If the garlic threatens to burn, remove the pan from the heat and reheat briefly when pasta is cooked.
Combine the eggs Parmesan in a small bowl, whisk until smooth and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Have a large heated serving bowl and plates ready. Drain the pasta and turn into the heated serving bowl. Immediately remove the chillies from the frying pan and pour the hot content of the pan over the pasta, then, without delay follow with the eggs and cheese. Toss well and serve immediately. At the table grind, copious amounts of black pepper over the pasta.
Mum – you were right, this one is seriously delicious.
The best recipe for Carbonara spaghetti is here! List of ingredients for Carbonara and step by Step instructions on how to make Italian Carbonara pasta at home.
Finally a carbonara pasta like it’s supposed to be! I made it at home and it s EXACTLY like the real one you get in Italy! I am definitely going to ma.
Hailing from the heart of Rome, this classic fresh pasta dish is a genuine article and represents one of Italy’s most beloved regional specialty pasta recipes. Our presentation here includes the traditional, classic recipe with salty Pecorino cheese and crisp Italian guanciale for a taste sensation that will have you instanly back in that cute Roman trattoria, enjoying the sights and local flavors.
While there’s a lot of pasta baggage here, with local experts frequently claiming specific prep methods as the tried and true versions, we happily follow our Rome-based local experts on their ingredient inclusions in order to prepare a fabulous, quick fresh pasta recipe that will have your whole family asking for seconds (maybe even thirds)!
If you can source Aged Pecorino cheese and fresh eggs from your local grocer, proceed with those options as top-quality ingredients are key in this delicious fresh, traditional pasta dish. Creamy and salty, you’ll score serious local Roman cred points whenever you whip up this quick and delicious pasta recipe!
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When you’re craving a comforting bowl of creamy pasta, nothing will cure you as fast as carbonara. This pasta dish with Roman origins is a sure win, calling for just 5 ingredients (not including salt and oil), and done from start to finish in 20 minutes. It’s basically a pantry dive – spaghetti, bacon, garlic, eggs, and parmesan are all ingredients that are easy to have on hand and don’t spoil fast. As for the creaminess, it’s a misnomer that carbonara is made with cream (more below) – the creaminess comes from the silky parmesan-egg sauce, and it takes a touch of technique to get it right.
Once you have the technique down, this is a recipe you can basically repeat from memory. Until then, check out our tips and enjoy!
Salt That Water!
One of the biggest mistakes people make when cooking pasta is that they don’t season their pot of water nearly enough. Don’t just add a pinch. If you’re cooking a full pound of pasta, add a full tablespoon. This will make your spaghetti (or fettuccine or whatever you’re using) actually taste like something.
Save some pasta water.
You might need to loosen your sauce later on; you might not. Just in case, save some starchy cooking water. If after you add the eggs and Parm it doesn’t seem creamy enough, gradually stir in some cooking water.
You don’t need cream.
To make an authentic carbonara sauce, you need eggs and Parmesan. Repeat, YOU DO NOT NEED HEAVY CREAM. As much as we love cream, it’ll just overpower everything. The combination of eggs + Parm when whisked together makes for a creamy, silky sauce.
You can use pancetta or guanciale instead of bacon.
We always keep bacon in our fridge, so that’s what we used here. But if you have access to pancetta (cured pork belly) or guanciale (cured pork jowl), definitely swap out the bacon for either. The flavor will be incredible no matter which you choose.
Toss the pasta in the bacon or pancetta fat.
Once you cook the bacon (or pancetta), keep all the fat in the pan and toss your pasta in it, coating every piece of spaghetti with a touch of smokiness before moving to the next step.
Turn off the heat when you add the eggs.
Adding the eggs off the heat is important to prevent them from scrambling, but super important for creating a luscious sauce. After tossing the pasta in the bacon fat, remove your skillet from the heat and stir in the egg and Parmesan mixture. And stir vigorously! The eggs will cook from the residual heat of the pan, the bacon fat, and the hot pasta.
Have you made this recipe? Rate it and let us know how you liked it in the comments below. Once this craving is satisfied, cook our 65 Best Pasta recipes.
Published Feb 15, 2012 10:00 AM
To make this dish the traditional Roman way, mix the cheese, eggs, pepper, and pork in a bowl to create a thick sauce before tossing it with the pasta. This recipe appeared in Eternal Pleasures, author Anya von Bremzen’s tribute to classic Roman dishes (April 2010).
- 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta cut into 1⁄2″ pieces
- 2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 3 ⁄4 cups finely grated Parmesan
- 1 egg plus 3 yolks
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- Heat oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 minutes more. Transfer guanciale mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly; stir in 1 1⁄2 cups Parmesan and egg and yolks and stir to combine; set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes. Reserve 3⁄4 cup water; drain pasta and transfer it to guanciale mixture. Toss, adding pasta water a little at a time to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper; serve with remaining Parmesan.
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Authentic Italian Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
Spaghetti alla carbonara is probably ‘the’ most well known Italian pasta recipe. Well, maybe alongside spaghetti bolognese! And like spaghetti bolognese, it has been reinvented a thousand times outside of Italy. Of course, different versions of carbonara are good too. But the original recipe really needs nothing added to it because it’s delicious as is!
Some alternative alla carbonara history!
Like so many other Italian dishes, carbonara has a disputed history. The most commonly accepted theory is that it probably originated in or near Rome in the Italian region of Lazio. But how is the question!
Theory no 1; It is believed that Umbrian coal men called ‘carbonari’ ate it themselves and introduced it to the Romans when they came to sell charcoal to them.
Theory no 2; It has also been said that carbonara was named for the ‘Carbonari’ a secret society in existence during the time of Italian unification (Dan Brown take note!)
Theory no 3, which to me may have merit since published carbonara recipes date only from the second war onwards, is that it developed as a result of the demands of American soldiers stationed in Rome after the city’s liberation in 1944 and the fact that these very soldiers supplied the Romans with bacon and eggs.
How do Italians make alla carbonara?
Whatever its origins, it’s certain that alla carbonara has become a worldwide favourite pasta dish – although one that has many non-Italian versions!
I have always called spaghetti carbonara ‘Italian bacon and eggs’ because basically that’s what it is; eggs, bacon, pasta, grated cheese and pepper. I think it’s the combination of bacon and eggs that makes this one of the most popular pasta dishes in the West, especially with the British and the Americans.
No vegetables! No cream!
Over time, authentic Italian carbonara has been altered by the British, the Americans and others. I did a little experiment and searched through Instagram posts hash-tagged #carbonara. Needless to say, I found a zillion variations including ingredients such as cream (lots of cream, sometimes the pasta is swimming in it!), peas, leeks, broccoli, tomatoes and mushrooms. It seems that these additions have become so common in America and England that it’s now considered the norm to make this dish with some kind of vegetable and cream. In Italy, it really isn’t!
Like many Italian pasta dishes, alla carbonara is a simple dish with few ingredients. But, it’s the quality of the ingredients and what you do with them that make the difference. The majority of chefs agree that ‘true’ carbonara contains guanciale (pork cheek) and not bacon or pancetta. However, both make fine substitutes as long as they are quite fatty and cubed. Guanciale renders quite a lot of fat so you don’t need to cook it in olive oil.
Mixing the pasta to combine the ingredients is an art and the quality of the cheese (Parmesan / Pecorino) and the pasta are significantly important. Black pepper is essential! Some Italians use only whole eggs, others use yolks. My hubby sometimes makes it with just egg yolks. This gives the dish an orangey colour! The general rule is one egg or egg yolk per person.
Spaghetti is the usual pasta for alla carbonara. However, linguine, fettuccine, bucatini and rigatoni can also be used. Rigatoni is the second most popular pasta for carbonara in Rome. The recipe I used is one that my Italian hubby follows. It is also very similar to that of the late Antonio Carluccio who was the author of 20 books on Italian cooking. Mr Carluccio said in his own recipe book “Most people I know get it completely wrong! Either adding milk or cream or letting the eggs become scrambled!”
You can watch Antonio Carluccio making his carbonara on Jamie Oliver’s You Tube channel below.
Even if you normally make your carbonara differently, it’s worth trying it the Italian way! I’m sure you’ll love it!
If you do try this authentic spaghetti alla carbonara recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
Other classic pasta dishes from Rome on the Pasta Project.
- Pasta alla gricia
- Bucatini all’amatriciana
- Cacio e pepe
- Puntarelle pasta with burrata
- Romanesco broccoli pasta soup
(This recipe has been updated with new photos and text)
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There are some mistakes that people usually make while preparing Carbonara. Here are some advices to prepare Carbonara following the tradition:
– there is no need to put oil on the pan, as the fatty part of the bacon will be enough
– forget making Carbonara sauce with garlic or onion, or adding cream, since the eggs will give the creamy consistency
– the spaghetti have to be added to the eggs’ cream on the bowl, not in the pan on the fire: the heat of the spaghetti will cook the eggs itself and the spaghetti will remain creamy and glossy.
If you follow all the steps you will get the authentic taste of the real Carbonara recipe!
Pour enough water in a pan and put in on the fire. Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until “al dente”.
In the meanwhile, heat up a frying pan and then stir the diced guanciale in it, until the fatty part becomes transparent and crispy.
At the same time put the yolks and the egg in a large bowl (it has to contain all the spaghetti, once drained), add the grated Gran Moravia hard cheese and some grounded pepper. Stir these ingredients until the cream becomes homogeneous. Add the guanciale into the cream and stir again.
Once the spaghetti are “al dente”, drain them and pour them into the bowl. Toss well to make all the spaghetti become creamy and to let them incorporate all the guanciale.
Serve with a grating of Gran Moravia hard cheese and an extra twist of pepper.
This is my favourite, and the very best version I know of the great classic Italian recipe for pasta with bacon and egg sauce.
I used to make it with English bacon and Parmesan cheese, but now we are able to get Italian pancetta and Pecorino Romano cheese, it is a great improvement.
You can now watch how to make Pasta alla Carbonara in our Cookery School Video, just click the image to play.
This recipe is from The Delia Collection: Italian. Serves 2
- Recipes for 2
- , Pasta recipes
- , Italian recipes
- , Eggs recipes
- , Pork recipes
First heat some pasta bowls ready for serving.
Then in a large saucepan heat 2.25 litres of salted water and bring it up to a good fierce boil, then add the pasta and boil briskly, uncovered for 9-10 minutes until al dente. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and fry the pancetta without any extra oil until it’s crisp and golden, about 5 minutes.
Next, whisk the eggs, yolks and cream in a jug with a generous seasoning of black pepper then whisk in the cheese. When the pasta is cooked, drain it quickly in a colander, leaving a little of the moisture still clinging. Now quickly return it to the saucepan and add the pancetta and any oil in the pan, along with the egg and cream mixture.
Stir very thoroughly, so that everything gets a good coating – what happens is that the liquid egg cooks briefly as it comes into contact with the hot pasta. Serve the pasta on really hot deep plates with some extra grated Pecorino Romano.
Pasta alla carbonara has humble roots in the Apennine hills of central Italy, not far from Roma. The dish was known as the shepherds’ favorite as they roamed the hilly pastures following the movement of flocks, a practice known as transumanza, thanks to its simple, readily available ingredients: egg, guanciale, and cheese.
Pasta alla Carbonara (Pasta with Egg, Guanciale, and Cheese)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound pasta, such as rigatoni
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound diced guanciale
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup freshly-grated Pecorino Romano
Kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add in the diced
guanciale. Let the guanciale render its fat until it becomes golden brown and crispy, and then remove from the pan and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese, and 1 teaspoon of freshly-ground black pepper. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt until as salty as the sea. Add the pasta to the pot, cook until al dente, then transfer the pasta to the large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add in the guanciale, and toss for a minute so that it is evenly incorporated and warmed through.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg and cheese mixture, tossing gently and thoroughly so that the pasta becomes evenly coated with the sauce. Divide among warmed serving bowls, and serve immediately.
Taste our chefs’ pasta alla carbonara at La Pizza & La Pasta at your local Eataly. Then pick up the ingredients and recreate our recipe!
This is one of the first dishes I ever ate – or I should probably say, experienced – when I moved to Italy as a tweenager. Since then it has been my all time favorite pasta dish. I can’t seem to get enough. Evah! It’s creamy, luxurious and sexy. Yes, it’s sexy!
I was told that Spaghetti alla Carbonara originated from the Italian coal miners and their need for a hearty quick meal being it was easy to prepare with just a few basic ingredients after a long day’s work. The recipe varies slightly from region to region, as do most Italian dishes. This recipe is the way I was taught and of course the one I think that is the best ; ) Yes, I’m biased and that’s okay!
It’s as simple to make as it is delizioso! It takes about 10 minutes
If you can’t get your hands on pancetta you can substitute bacon but do try to give the Pancetta a whirl. No need to add in any additional salt because there will be enough salty goodness from the Parmigano Reggiano and of course the pancetta.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of my go-to dishes. It has three of my favorite ingredients: pasta, Parmigiano Reggiano & garlic! LOL Which I’m sure you’ll quickly come to learn about me. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!
Ease of Preparation: Medium
Yield: 2 servings
An authentic spaghetti alla carbonara has a few simple ingredients: pork, cheese, pasta, pepper, and eggs. Turning them into the iconic meal, however, is all about quality and technique — crunchy bits of guanciale, toothsome spaghetti, savory pecorino romano cheese, and a scrunch of black pepper come together to make a creamy, decadent dish.
- Salt, for pasta water
- ½ pound (227 g) dried spaghetti
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup (240 ml) grated pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 cup (240 ml) diced guanciale
- Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon grated pecorino Romano cheese, to garnish
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Add spaghetti and cook as per package instructions or for 8 minutes, or until ‘al dente’.
While the spaghetti is cooking, cook the guanciale in a small pan until the fat has rendered and the guanciale is slightly crispy.
Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl.
Remove yolks and set aside.
Whisk cheese into the egg whites to form a paste.
Season with black pepper.
When the spaghetti is ready, use tongs to remove the cooked pasta from the boiling water and transfer into the bowl with the paste. Make sure that a bit of the pasta cooking water is transferred to the bowl with the pasta to help form the sauce.
Add cooked guanciale along with the rendered fat to the bowl.
Toss the pasta, sauce, guanciale, and rendered fat together in the bowl, working quickly while hot; continue tossing until the cheese melts slightly and forms a creamy sauce with the egg whites.
Transfer the pasta and sauce to serving dishes and garnish with the reserved raw egg yolk.
Garnish with additional cheese and black pepper.
by April Nicole,
Ask any Roman what dish their city specialises in, and they’ll undoubtedly confess their love for an authentic Roman Spaghetti alla Carbonara! This choice falls in line with so many other Roman classics: poor food. Even back in the 1900s when the Romans were limited to the simplest seasonal and regional ingredients of local farms, they got creative – and that’s how the carbonara was born! As a result, the ideal Spaghetti alla Carbonara is loaded with fresh flavour, rich in protein, affordable, and much easier to make than you’d expect! Just follow our recipe and try to refrain from any unnecessary “add-ons” as the real Roman way is all about perfect balance and simplicity.
- 10 oz. Guanciale, or “pork cheek”, cut into ¼” cubes (Can be replaced with pancetta, or “pork belly” in desperate situations, but don’t tell the Romans)
- 16 oz. (1 lb) dried Italian spaghetti (rigatoni is another popular choice)
- 2 Large Eggs (Add a third egg yolk for extra creaminess)
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for garnish)
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp course sea salt
- Black pepper (to taste, but be generous)
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Cook Guanciale (or Pancetta) in pan on medium-high heat with ¼ cup dry white wine, stirring regularly. When fully cooked (approximately 10 minutes) remove pan from heat and cool.
- Boil Spaghetti (or Rigatoni) in salted water according to package instructions (Be careful not to overcook it, firm pasta is more traditional)
- Add eggs and pepper to the cooled pan with Guanciale and mix (do not put on heat yet).
- When pasta is cooked, strain it and add it to the pan with the other ingredients. Mix, then place on medium-high heat for 10 seconds, mixing continuously.
- Remove pan from flame and add grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Mix evenly throughout.
- Serve pasta immediately. Garnish with extra cheese and fresh parsley.
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Editor’s note: While Susan is away, we hope you enjoy this Spaghetti alla Carbonara — one of Susan’s favorites from the Free Press archives.
With just a few ingredients, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of those classic dishes that can show off your culinary skills.
It’s a quick dish, but it can be tricky. It requires a certain technique — and the right ingredients — to get that spectacular flavor and beautiful presentation.
At a glance, it seems easy enough: Cook the pasta, cook the pancetta (more on this later) and mix it all together with eggs, cheese and seasoning.
Not so fast. Even Italian chef Mario Batali concedes that it isn’t as easy as it looks. In “Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home” (HarperCollins Publishers), Batali writes that “a true carbonara has no cream, and it can be slightly tricky in its execution.”
Tricky is right. Executing this dish lies in the timing and technique of adding the ingredients off the heat to make that silky, custard-like sauce. The heat from the hot pasta will cook the eggs just enough to form a creamy sauce without adding cream. The sauce should coat — not drench — the pasta. What you want to avoid making is a dish of scrambled egg pasta.
The keys to making a perfect Spaghetti alla Carbonara is adding the ingredients to the cooked pancetta with the skillet off the heat and reserving a good cup of the pasta cooking water in case you need to loosen the sauce. The reserved pasta water also adds more flavor.
Cook the pasta to just barely al dente because it will continue to cook in the skillet. Once you add the pasta, use tongs and toss to coat the pasta with the fat in the pan. When you’re ready to add the beaten eggs and the cheese, remove the skillet from the heat. When you add the eggs and cheese, continue to toss all the ingredients to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan and the eggs from scrambling. This should take just a minute or two at the most.
Don’t leave the pasta in the pan too long or you’ll wind up with little bits of cooked egg. What you want instead is a thin coating of the egg-cheese mixture so that the pasta glistens.
And, of course, use quality ingredients. We all know bacon makes everything taste better. In this recipe, I use pancetta, an Italian dry-cured, not smoked, bacon. You can find it at most grocery stores and delis.
In his cookbook, Batali uses guanciale. It’s similar to pancetta (because it’s dry-cured), but it’s made from pork jowl instead of pork belly. Look for it at some Italian markets.
Plenty of recipes for today’s dish do call for cream. If you think it needs it, go ahead and ahead a tablespoon or so. The cream will give the dish just an extra bit of creaminess. It’s purely optional.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Serves: 4 (generous servings) / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes
You can use all Parmigiano-Reggiano if desired.
1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces pancetta or guanciale, sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut into large dice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound good-quality dried spaghetti
1/2 cup lightly packed, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup grated Pecorino
Fresh chopped parsley
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt.
Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta or guanciale and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions but just barely al dente, about 8 minutes. Dip a glass measure or coffee cup into the pasta water and scoop out a good cup of it and reserve. Drain the pasta.
Remove the skillet from the heat and spoon off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to the pan and scrape any brown bits from the bottom.
Add the pasta to the skillet, set it over medium heat and toss the spaghetti with tongs to coat it with the fat and finish cooking to al dente, about 1 minute. If the pasta is too dry or starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little more pasta water. The bottom of the pan should be a little wet so the eggs won’t scramble when you add them.
Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the eggs over the pasta, tossing quickly and continuously until the eggs thicken and coat the pasta, about 1 minute.
The sauce should be creamy and coat the pasta. If needed, add more pasta water a few tablespoons at a time to loosen the sauce. Stir in the Parmigiano and Pecorino. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
817 calories (38% from fat), 34 grams fat (12 grams sat. fat), 86 grams carbohydrates, 39 grams protein, 926 mg sodium, 301 mg cholesterol, 3 grams fiber.
Think of the best Italian pasta dishes, and your mind will likely race to spaghetti alla carbonara. This comforting, not exactly light dish took centuries in the making, before landing to the recipe we know today in the mid 20th century.
Although most will tell you that making a good carbonara sauce is easy, this isn’t necessarily the case – as with many other Italian recipes that only call for a few ingredients, you really need to master them to achieve perfection. To date, many – even in Italy – still get spaghetti alla carbonara completely wrong – adding unnecessary ingredients or overcooking the eggs.
Lucky for you, I have the best recipe for spaghetti alla carbonara. It may take you a few tries to reach perfection, but follow it religiously and you should achieve a good dish even on your first try!
Table of Contents
How To Make Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
How To Make Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
A quick and easy recipe to prepare the best spaghetti alla carbonara.
- 0.7 pound (320 grams) spaghetti
- 8 egg yolks
- 5 oz (150 grams) guancialeВ in one piece
- 2 cups (160 grams) grated pecorino romano cheese
- Black pepper
- Salt to boil the pasta
STEP 1 – PREPARE THE GUANCIALE
- Remove the pork rind from the guanciale, then cut it into slices about 1/4-inch (1 cm) thick and small cubes about 1/8-inch (1/2 cm) wide.
STEP 2 – GRATE THE CHEESE
- Grate the pecorino romano cheese in a separate bowl and set aside.
STEP 3 – SEPARATE THE EGGS
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites and set them aside.
- STEP 5 – COOK THE GUANCIALE
- Start boiling water for the pasta and add salt.
- In a large pan or skillet, add the guanciale cubes and let it brown on low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat melts.
STEP 6 – SEPARATE THE GUANCIALE FROM THE FAT
- Once the fat has melted, take out the guanciale and place it in a dish. Leave the fat aside.
STEP 7 – START COOKING THE PASTA
- Once the water boils, throw in the spaghetti, softly pushing them down with a fork. Stir occasionally.
STEP 8 – WHISK THE EGGS
- Whisk the egg yolks and add the grated pecorino, leaving some aside for decoration.
STEP 9 – ADD GUANCIALE FAT AND PEPPER TO THE EGG MIXTURE
- Add two spoons of the melted guanciale fat and some black pepper to the egg and cheese mixture and continue stirring.
STEP 10 – DRAIN THE PASTA AL DENTE
- Drain the spaghetti when al dente, keeping some water aside.
- Put the spaghetti on a large saucepan with the remaining fat and stir, adding some cooking water if needed.
- Set the pan aside on a cold surface and let it rest for one minute, then add the egg mixture, stirring quickly and vigorously.
- Place the pasta with the egg mixture on a dish, sprinkling more grated pecorino cheese, black pepper and finally adding the crispy guanciale.
Spaghetti Alla Carbonara Q&A
Can I use other kinds of pasta?
You sure can! Spaghetti is the preferred shape of pasta we typically use for a carbonara, but you can definitely opt for other shapes. I particularly recommend rigatoni.
Can I use bacon instead of guanciale?
Purists like myself will tell you not to do that. Guanciale and pancetta have different flavors – peppery and fatty the first; sweeter and milder the second. This means that the end result will be very different if you actually use pancetta. Having said so, there are some people here in Italy who, in spite of traditions, prefer opting for the milder taste of pancetta.
Can I add onions / garlic?
Absolutely not. The very distinctive taste of spaghetti alla carbonara is given by the perfect combination of a few, simple ingredients: guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk. The strong flavor or onions or – worse – garlic would completely change and in fact, ruin the taste.
I ran out of Pecorino. Can I use Parmigiano?
You shouldn’t. If you ran out of pecorino, perhaps you can quickly run to the store or simply prepare spaghetti alla carbonara some other time, when you have all the necessary ingredients. You see, the dish was invented in the region of Lazio, where the local cheese has always been pecorino romano – which tastes very different from parmigiano!
Can I use cream for the sauce?
Once again, this is a no-no. The secret for a creamy sauce is not in adding cream, butter or other ingredients, but in mixing the eggs at just the right temperature so that they don’t “cook.” For the same reason, never actually put the eggs on a direct heat source!!
Should I not use whole eggs?
The real spaghetti alla carbonara only call for egg yolk. You will have to separate the eggs for this recipe, and use the egg whites for another recipe.
Should I pasteurize the eggs?
There is no need – eggs will slightly cook and get pasteurized with the heat of the pasta as soon as you throw them in. But if you really want to be extra safe, this video here explains you how to pasteurize eggs. Remember you have to do in the same day you make your carbonara!
Can I add chili?
Carbonara only calls for freshly ground black pepper. There’s no need to add chili or anything else to make it spicy as it’s already full of flavor.
Want to taste more dishes or Roman cuisine? Try these ones:
This is the first dish I ever learned how to make! I don’t even remember how old I was, but it was well before high school, because I would make carbonara when I was a student at boarding school in New Hampshire. I was constantly missing the pasta dishes I grew up with in Italy, so I’d go to the general store, buy the ingredients, and make this over the two little hotplates in our communal room. Those hotplates served me and my friends well: I used to make carbonara for everyone in the dorm! Then, my senior year, after I got kicked out of that school and went to another one, I made pasta carbonara at my then girlfriend’s house to feed all my friends before going to our senior prom. I kept hearing all this talk about drinking at the prom, and I thought to myself, What better way to prepare for a night of drinking than a bowl of hearty pasta? It turned out to be the perfect fuel for the night—and it was great to put my cooking skills to good use!
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces pancetta or thick bacon, diced
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook until it is browned and the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and keep warm.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, cheese, and pepper until uniform. Set aside.
3. Fill a large pot with water and add enough salt so the water tastes like seawater. Bring the water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente. Drain and transfer pasta to the bowl with the egg mixture and add the pancetta, along with all the fat from the pan. Toss the pasta with the egg-cheese mixture and the pancetta until the eggs are cooked and the pasta is coated and creamy, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.
Tip: If, when you’re tossing the pasta in the bowl, it looks a little dry, add a bit of the reserved pasta water to help create an emulsion.
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International Day of Italian Cuisines has us dreaming of pasta
Tuesday 4 August marks International Day of Italian Cuisines – otherwise known as the perfect excuse for pasta. What better way to celebrate our new favourite holiday than with a popular spaghetti dish for dinner tonight, Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
We’ve found a delicious, authentic recipe courtesy of Hotel Eden Rome’s General Manager Luca Virgilio.
This carbonara recipe is served at the upmarket Hotel Eden Rome in Italy
But before you start – here’s what you definitely shouldn’t be doing. Michelin-starred Fabio Ciervo, Executive Chef at La Terrazza at Hotel Eden Rome, has revealed the number one mistake people make when cooking a Carbonara – using the wrong meat.
It’s vital to use guanciale (pork cheek) and not bacon. Trust us, it’ll make all the difference…
Here are his other top tips:
- Cook the pasta for two – three minutes in the sauce and then off heat, add the eggs to make a tasty Carbonara sauce.
- For an authentic Carbonara, the following ingredients must not be added; onion, garlic, finishing with parsley or basil, cream… and of course, pancetta or bacon.
Appetite whetted? Read on to recreate a restaurant-worthy dinner tonight…
Hotel Eden Rome’s General Manager Luca Virgilio shared his secret recipe
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Adapted from Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, which we reviewed in 2016.
Thanks to Bastianich’s technique of tempering the egg yolks with hot pasta, this recipe is foolproof. I did make one tweak: Her recipe calls for optional sliced scallions (shown in the photo above). I’ve nipped them out, as I feel the dish is perfect without them.
6 ounces thick-cut or slab bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 pound spaghetti
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until the fat has mostly rendered, about 4 to 5 minutes. Push the bacon to one side of the pan, and add the onion. Let both cook separately until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, then mix the two together. Ladle 4 cups of pasta water into the skillet with the bacon and onion, bring to a rapid boil, and quickly reduce the sauce.
3. While the sauce is reducing, add the spaghetti to the boiling water. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of hot pasta water. When the sauce has reduced by about half and the spaghetti is al dente, use tongs to scoop the pasta into the sauce. Add the pepper and salt to taste. Toss the pasta until it is coated in the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat, and quickly mix in the egg yolks, stirring until creamy. Toss the pasta with the grated cheese, and serve immediately.