5 Ingredients or Fewer

Spaghetti Carbonara

March  2, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

This is no-frills, classic carbonara. It's also great made with rigatoni. Serving suggestions: straight outta the serving bowl. Adapted from Bon Appetit's April 2012 issue. —Brette Warshaw

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Spaghetti Carbonara
  • 1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Pecorino, plus more for garnish
  1. Put guanciale in a large skillet and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until fat renders but guanciale is not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the guanciale to your serving bowl; reserve the drippings.
  2. Add egg yolks and egg to your serving bowl; whisk to blend.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving around a 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  4. To egg mixture, immediately add spaghetti, 2 tablespoons pasta cooking liquid, and 1 teaspoon guanciale drippings; toss to coat. Working in 3 batches, gradually add Pecorino, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Add lots of black pepper (around 2 teaspoons). Toss until the sauce thickens, adding more pasta water by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  5. Divide among bowls (or don't). Garnish with Pecorino.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sandy Cook Sowa
    Sandy Cook Sowa
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  • Leslie LaBute
    Leslie LaBute
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  • The Lard Of Avon
    The Lard Of Avon

60 Reviews

Sandy C. May 3, 2020
Well my husband and I were transported to Italy. I've been to Roma, Venice and Florence on a trip I'll always remember. This recipe was perfect. I even used what I had on hand : uncured turkey bacon, a bit of gruyere and parm.
TheCleveHome January 28, 2020
I love the simplicity of this recipe, but I do like to change it up a bit. Completely non-traditional variations.

Cheeses I add-in based on what I have available. I use this in addition to the Pecorino or Parmesan. Extra Sharp White Cheddar / Fontina / Gruyere

Vegetables: Frozen Peas / Fresh Spinach / Portabella mushrooms and thinly sliced white onion

Typically, I used the Fontina with the mushrooms and onions, but not always.

This has become my go-to meal in a pinch.
Stacie N. December 8, 2018
This recipe is great, and I've successfully made it several times - until tonight, when I tried to double it! It was too much, too hot, and I ended up with a partial scramble. :( I'm hoping the boys don't notice!
Leslie L. March 16, 2015
We love Carbonara at our house. I lost my favourite recipe. Tried a new one last week and found that the result was quite curdled. It tasted alright though but not great. I did temper my eggs with pasta water. Any other tips I am missing?
LIZZANNE October 22, 2014
I too could not get enough of the Roman dish of Carbonara!!! I have been searching for an exact version since I returned to the USA 3 years ago...always close but no cigar! maybe is the water???? I have high hopes for this version, can't wait to try!
debenedittislinda October 4, 2014
When I lived in Italy, we always had "al dente" Pasta and my husbands Family from Milano and Verona always made their pasta "al dente". So I doubt that was something just started as a "food snob oneup".
Ethel B. April 25, 2016
Are you kidding? I lived on Bologna, had I ever been served any pasta al dente, it would've been sent back. Thankfully, I never had to do it.
Alan B. October 1, 2014
Forget al dente. While I lived in Italy I always ate out in the evening. I generally had pasta as a main course or a side. I never was serves al dente. I think that got started as food snob oneup.
Ethel B. April 25, 2016
That'sounds BS
I lived in Italy, in fact in Bologna. If a restaurant ever served me a pasta that was not allowed denote, it would've been sent back.
FreeRangePamela August 1, 2014
I know this was published a while back, but I just made it last night and have to rave here. I've tried different variations on carbonara before, but this was my most successful effort, by far. Yum! The only negative was that I didn't have enough spaghetti on hand to double the recipe.
The L. March 24, 2014
Having wrestled with pursuing a good, authentic carbonara the one thing that has proven to be key for me is that reserved pasta water, but its added to the hot pan the pancetta was done in to really free all the accumulated love. The process is described here http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-pasta-carbonara-170893
Kymber March 24, 2014
As I am quite sure this recipe is onolicious, has anyone tried this recipe with less egg yolks? I can feel my arteries clogging with the thought of 8 egg yolks!
debenedittislinda October 4, 2014
I have never made Carbonara with this much egg. The Recipe I use calls for only one egg per 2 ounces of Pasta and uses the whole egg and not just the yolk. I have even made it with egg substitute without a problem!!!!
Adam T. September 22, 2015
This recipe calls for the same ratio, 16 oz pasta and 8 eggs, but that does seem like a lot, but I can't wait to try it!
Chandler October 8, 2017
Egg yolks are good for you 😊
Chandler October 8, 2017
Egg yolks are good for you 😊
Chandler October 8, 2017
Egg yolks are good for you 😊
Chandler October 8, 2017
Egg yolks are good for you 😊
Chandler October 8, 2017
Sorry if that was excessive, but it's true
Kathy L. February 25, 2014
The recipe does not go with the picture….look again? Those are squares of italian bacon, and maybe parsley.
Kathy L. February 25, 2014
sorry… "I" just "looked again"…had missed pancetta in the print
Christina @. February 25, 2014
I do believe those square are Italian bacon (pancetta), and black pepper, not parsley.
Carolina December 7, 2013
Quite "yolk-y" but delicious. A classic.
MariahK November 29, 2013
Yum! This was so good. My only mistake was not reserving the pasta water so I had to add some cream. But I'll remember next time I make this. I also added a few seared scallops on top and it was delicious!
Joyce November 28, 2013
I have made Spaghetti Carbonara for years and it has always been too dry even with cream, and now I know that I need to use some pasta water to moisten it. Thanks.
Markbayankeefan November 24, 2013
I always buy pasteurized eggs for carbonara, hollandaise or Caesar dressing
Dima H. June 24, 2013
I love eating carbonara at restaurants but my fear of eating raw eggs and the fear that it will taste eggy has stopped me from doing so :( any ideas on how to make sure the eggs are cooked?
chef L. June 24, 2013
You should put the eggs on the pasta as soon as it has drained and still steams; you can also heat your serving bowl, prior to even cooking the pasta, at about 200 in an oven, making sure it is hot to the touch prior to using.
Dima H. June 26, 2013
Thank you for your quick reply!! I made it yesterday and it turned out amazing!
Mountain M. April 28, 2013
This is so good!!! We made it with bacon instead of the pancetta or guanicale. I'd use half a pound of bacon instead of a quarter pound. My five year old practically inhaled it. We used rigatoni also and it was a perfect pasta for this. :>
fhp April 10, 2013
I've been experimenting for years with Carbonara and sometimes the temperature of the hot pasta doesn't seem to be enough to get the egg the right consistency. Woe to those who think they'll get away with heating the pasta and eggs on the stove top. Armida Latella from the Abruzzo (home of the carbonara, griscia and matriciana) taught me her trick which is to temper the eggs with a little of the hot pasta water just before mixing in the pasta. Good trick.
Another trick she taught me about pastas with guanciale or pancetta is to add a little white wine after the guanciale is sautéed then little it simmer a while thereby creating a sort of syrup. This cuts the fat and makes for a more digestible meal. This is a great trick when making a matriciana sauce.
Topperlove May 6, 2013
I first started eating Carbonara years ago in Rome. My favorite trattoria finally showed me how it was done. Your tips are spot on for a perfect dish. The white wine is essential.
daniel October 10, 2013
To FHP carbonara, gricia (not griscia, also called matriciana) and all'amatriciana are from the region of Lazio not Abruzzo. The regions do touch each other.
fhp October 10, 2013
I stand corrected. However, I always thought that when I stood in Amatrice that I stood in Abruzzo. Evidently it was so until 1926...As you know the center of Rome is full of people from the Abruzzo who arrived right after the war. The bus stop was just in front of the Pantheon. They brought with them their food culture much of which was claimed by the Romans as Romans since time eternal have been wont to do.... see a God, grab a God and put him in your pantheon. The Abruzzo has fantastic salumi and I have always associated pig jowl, guanciale, with that region. I paste this from Wikipedia
La pasta, in particolare gli spaghetti, vengono frequentemente serviti anche all'amatriciana; si tratta di un condimento originario della zona di Amatrice (da cui il nome) che fino al 1927 era ricompresa nella provincia dell'Aquila e dunque in Abruzzo, anche se successivamente è diventato un piatto tipico della cucina romana. Ad oggi l'amatriciana è ancora molto diffusa in tutta l'area sabina dell'Abruzzo e in particolar modo all'Aquila e nel Cicolano. Gli ingredienti principali sono aglio, guanciale, pecorino e pomodoro mentre non è molto utilizzata la cipolla, frequente invece nella versione romana.
This I admit is only slightly convincing as La Vera Amatriana should not have garlic or onion, although many do. I like David Downey's recipe in his Roman cookbook and that even has a little white wine added to the guanciale after is lightly browned.
daniel October 10, 2013
Ciao FHP enjoyed your well thought out responce to my comment. Amatrice is so close to Abruzzo but it's in la provincia di Riete and the regione of Lazio. I also occaisionaly deglazed the guanciale with a bit of wine, then drink the rest. Lost in all the history and beauty of Roma is it's cuisine, whenever I'm in Roma there is never enough time to savor all it's culinary delights, like all'amatriciana (yes, no garlic or onion), alla carbonara, spaghetti a cacio e pepe, rigatoni "co'la pajata (an acquired taste)and of course spaghetti all'aglio e olio (but only from midnight on)fiori di Zucca, carciofi all giuda, puntrella, suppli al telefono, coda alla vaccinara, costolette "a scottadito" abbacchio al forno, "saltimbocca alla romana" and the list goes on. I am a retired chef and I live in Milano where we also have an excellent cuisine. Enjoyed chatting with you. [email protected]
daniel October 10, 2013
Ciao FHP CORRECTION my email is [email protected]
fhp October 10, 2013
Ciao Chef,
I lived in Milano for many years and still have a house there in the Brera.
I recently came back to California as my Roman partner wanted some Pacific Oxygen.
I went to Rome in 1976 and stayed until my work took me north.
I've been thinking most of the morning about the influence of the Abruzzese on the Roman cuisine.
Lots of thought about pig fat versus olive oil. Ancient Roman recipes vs todays Roman cuisine.
It is remarkable how many families from the Abruzzo opened little restaurants that then flourished.
I have to say I miss Rome and Milan but get back often.
I do not think that I will ever find veal or rabbit as good as that found in the little macelleria in Piazza Carmine.
One day I entered there and asked for a Pollo Randaggio (stray) instead of a Pollo Ruspante (cage free).
You can't imagine the perplexity and astonishment and laughs that ensued.
Thanks for the note. FHP
daniel October 10, 2013
Let's keep in touch, we would like to meet you when get back to Milano, keep in contact with [email protected] or [email protected] Brera is better than ever, and coniglio is the best in Italia, and fish at "da claudio". a presto Pace, food is the common thread. We leave next week a Parigi for 2 days, eat some ostrica and other French specialties, but Cucina Italiana is the best, not negotiable. Pace
mmggrr April 8, 2013
Perfect Carbonara...Gusto in Los Angeles makes it like this...except the egg yolk is served on top and mixed in at the table...perfection!
Humphrey P. March 16, 2013
The best carbonara I ever ate! I might add some browned minced shallots next time. Thank you so much.