Tuna Carbonara

Tuna carbonara recipe

​The Spruce 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
513 Calories
31g Fat
27g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 513
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 31g 39%
Saturated Fat 14g 70%
Cholesterol 265mg 88%
Sodium 931mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 56mg 279%
Calcium 283mg 22%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 459mg 10%
*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.)

Carbonara is a traditional Italian pasta dish that is made with cured pork, egg, and cheese. This recipe also includes tuna and red pepper for added flavor, texture, and color. It uses ingredients you most likely have on hand in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and is ready to eat in about 20 minutes, start to finish. Perfect on a busy weeknight but also comforting and tasty enough for a weekend meal.

This recipe is also quite versatile, meaning you can swap and add ingredients to use what you have in the house. Feel free to substitute leftover cooked tuna, or even salmon, for the canned tuna, or use canned salmon or canned chicken if you'd like. If you don't have bell peppers, use sliced mushrooms or zucchini, grated carrots, or yellow summer squash. If you don't have spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine will do just fine.


  • 1 (8-ounce) package spaghetti

  • 4 slices bacon

  • 4 large eggs, beaten

  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 (6-ounce) can white tuna, drained

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Turkey carbonara ingredients
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  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions until just al dente, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

    Bring salted water to boil
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  3. Cook the bacon until crisp in a large saucepan over medium heat. 

    Cook bacon
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  4. Drain on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.

    Drain the bacon
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  5. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan.

    Drain off fat
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  6. Beat the eggs in a large bowl.

    Beat the eggs in bowl
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  7. Add the cream and beat again. Set aside.

    Add cream
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  8. In the saucepan you used to cook the bacon, add the butter and oil and melt together over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, garlic, and onion and sauté in the fat until tender.

    Cook bacon
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  9. Add the drained and cooked pasta to the pan.

    Pasta in pot
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  10. Add the tuna and cook, stirring, until heated through.

    Add the tuna and cook
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  11. Add the egg mixture to the pan. Cook and stir, lifting the pasta with tongs to allow the sauce to coat the pasta thoroughly.

    Add the egg mixture to the pan
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  12. Add the reserved pasta water, cheese, crumbled bacon, and parsley, and stir until well coated and the cheese has melted.

    Add toppings
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  13. Serve immediately and enjoy.

The Different Types of Canned Tuna

Besides the many brands of canned tuna found on the grocery store shelf, there are also a few different types of canned tuna to choose from, which can get confusing unless you know what to look for.

  • White tuna is of the albacore variety. It has a mild taste and is sold as both solid (one whole piece) and chunk (smaller pieces); solid is firmer than chunk. Albacore is considered a superior type of canned tuna.
  • Light tuna is a mixture of a few smaller species, including skipjack and yellowfin. It has a stronger flavor than white tuna and is less expensive. It is also offered both solid and chunk.
  • Both types of tuna are canned in either water, vegetable oil, or olive oil.