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Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara is the indulgently creamy spaghetti of your dreams draped in a velvety cheese and egg sauce punctuated by shards of crispy guanciale, pancetta or bacon. It's the no-food-in-the-house minimalistic dinner everyone will be begging for made with just eggs, noodles, cheese, and pork. This surprisingly easy Carbonara recipe comes together in minutes as the Pecorino Romano and beaten eggs are cooked into gloriously creamy existence simply by tossing with the hot pasta and a little fat from the pork. Finish your Spaghetti Carbonara off with a showering of freshly ground black pepper for silky, salty, savory, crispy, cheesy, egg-slick decadence in every bite.   Serve this this foolproof recipe with garlic bread and Caesar salad for an easy dinner any night of the week or for special occasions!
Course Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 4 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 2 whole eggs at room temperature
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 ounces finely, freshly grated Pecorino Romano, NOT Parmesan
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 7 ounces diced guanciale (or pancetta or thick-cut bacon)


  • Egg mixture: In a liquid measuring cup or medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, grated cheese, and plenty of freshly-cracked pepper (about 50 turns); set aside.
  • Cook pork: Cook the diced pork in a large sauté pan over medium heat until browned and crispy, about 7-10 minutes (use a pan large enough to eventually hold all of the pasta, preferable non-stick or enameled like this one). Remove the pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a paper towel lined plate. Don’t clean out the pan - we want the grease for later! If there are more drippings than you feel comfortable with, you can drain some; set aside. Meanwhile, cook the pasta:
  • Cook the pasta: Add 2 quarts water (8 cups) to a large Dutch oven (or stockpot wide enough to fit spaghetti). The water will be very shallow because we want it to be very starchy. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and stir in 2 teaspoons salt then add spaghetti. Cook pasta uncovered until 1 minute shy of al dente, stirring often so the spaghetti doesn’t stick. Using tongs, transfer the spaghetti to the pork drippings; set aside. Reserve starchy pasta water.
  • Temper the eggs: While vigorously whisking the egg mixture with one hand, slowly drizzle 1 cup starchy hot water into the egg mixture a couple tablespoons at a time until incorporated (DON’T STOP WHISKING or the eggs will scramble!). Set aside.
  • Toss the pasta: Place the pasta over medium heat while tossing with ½ cup starchy pasta water until al dente, about 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
  • Combine: While continuously tossing the spaghetti, SLOWLY drizzle the egg mixture into the pasta. Continue tossing constantly until the cheese melts and the eggs thicken to form a glossy sauce. Thin sauce with additional pasta water if needed. Add the pork and toss to combine. Immediately transfer to a serving bowl (so the eggs don't continue to cook). Season to taste with freshly cracked salt, pepper and red pepper flakes if desired. Serve immediately.



What pork should I use?

  • Guanciale: is the authentic meat of choice for Carbonara. It is an Italian cured pork cheek that’s especially fatty, salty, and flavorful (because it’s cured with additional seasonings), melting down perfectly to form delicious oils for the Carbonara Sauce. However, guanciale can be difficult to find in US, so you may substitute with thick-cut bacon or diced pancetta.
  • Pancetta: will have a cleaner pork flavor than bacon because it is salt-cured, but it doesn't stay as crispy and can become chewy quickly once combined with the pasta. If you go with pancetta, try to avoid the wafer-thin stuff. Instead, look for pancetta that you can cut into thick chunks yourself or sometimes you can find pancetta in containers in the meat or deli section that are diced for you. 
  • Bacon: American bacon is smoked so it will have a pleasantly sweet-smoky flavor and manages to retain its crispy texture. Make sure to use thick-cut bacon to mimic the texture of guanciale and so it stays crispier for longer.

Tips and Tricks

  • Pecorino Romano VS Parmesan.  Quality, aged Pecorino Romano is quintessential to authentic Carbonara - NOT Parmesan.  Pecorino Romano is three times more flavorful (sharper, saltier, tangier, more pungent) than Parmesan and results in superior flavor and silkiness - AKA far superior pasta.  If you must use Parmesan, be aware it will not taste as intoxicating as intended – next time splurge for the authentic cheese!
  • Use finely grated cheese. Grate your cheese on the finest holes of your cheese grater, the small, prickly side of the box grater to produce powdery Pecorino Romano.
  • Don’t overcook the sauce: You'll know the Carbonara Sauce is ready when it thickens, tightens, and clings to the spaghetti, leaving a clear trail as you stir.  Don’t continue to cook after this point because the eggs can scramble.
  • Don't burn the pork! If you burn the pork, your entire dish will be ruined because the burnt drippings will permeate throughout the pasta and that is all you will taste.
  • Temper the eggs quickly. Don't dilly dally between adding the cooked spaghetti to the pork drippings, tempering the eggs, and adding the egg mixture to the spaghetti. We want the spaghetti hot enough so its residual heat will cook the egg/cheese mixture.
  • Thicken the sauce if needed. If your sauce is runny then it simply needs more time to cook and thicken. If it's extra watery and not coming together, then you can turn the heat to low or even medium-low but don’t stop tossing or your sauce can scramble! 


  • To store: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 five days. 
  • To freeze: I do not recommend freezing Carbonara because the egg-based sauce will become a funky texture.
  • To reheat in the microwave: Transfer portions to a microwave-safe dish, microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through. 
  • To reheat on the stovetop:  Transfer to a skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring often. You may want to add a splash of milk or heavy cream if the pasta seems dry.