Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

  The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
950 Calories
43g Fat
87g Carbs
49g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 950
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 56%
Saturated Fat 18g 89%
Cholesterol 310mg 103%
Sodium 1252mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 87g 32%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Protein 49g
Calcium 244mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Traditional carbonara is an Italian pasta dish made with a sauce of cured pork, eggs, and cheese. The creaminess comes from the egg yolks and eggs mixed with the grated Parmesan and a bit of pasta cooking water. Although this time-honored dish is made without cream in Italy, adding a bit takes the creaminess up a notch (and is more like that served in popular American restaurants).

The Italians make carbonara with guanciale, which is a sort of bacon made from cured pork cheeks, but you can substitute pancetta, which, like bacon, is from the pork belly, or just use ordinary bacon. Guanciale is not typically smoked, though, so for the most classic flavor, don't use smoked bacon.

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound pancetta or bacon (cut into 1/2-inch dice)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon Italian parsley (chopped)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Fill a large soup pot with cold water and add a handful or so of kosher salt. Stir and taste; it should taste like seawater. Cover the pot and heat the water until it boils.​

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. Drop the spaghetti into the boiling salted water and cook according to package instructions, about 6 to 9 minutes or until al dente—tender but still firm to the bite.​

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Meanwhile, add the diced pancetta or bacon to a cold sauté pan and cook slowly over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.​

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Combine the egg yolks, cream, cheese, and olive oil in a bowl and beat with a whisk until completely mixed.

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Once the pasta is done, scoop out 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta and discard the remaining pasta cooking water.

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  7. Place the cooked pasta in the pot along with the cooked pancetta or bacon.

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  8. With the pot off the heat, add the egg and cream mixture and stir briskly while the sauce thickens up. You can adjust the consistency with some of the reserved pasta water.​

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  9. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Serve right away, with additional grated cheese if desired.

    Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
     The Spruce
  10. Enjoy.

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.

Recipe Variations

  • Although the recipe says "spaghetti," you can make this carbonara with penne or fettuccine, or bucatini. If you're looking for a healthier option you can also use spaghetti squash.
  • For a little extra flavor, in conjunction with a heartier meal, try adding diced roasted red peppers along with cooked chicken or shrimp.
  • For a bit more texture, color, and nutrition, stir a cup of frozen peas into the sauce.

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