Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara

Quick and EasyItalianBaconPasta

Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara—indulgent and delicious, yet so easy! Pasta carbonara takes only 30 min start to finish! Learn how to make carbonara sauce with bacon or pancetta and loads of parmesan.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Indulgent Carbonara

Spaghetti pasta 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 other 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.

How to Make 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!

Updated recipe and photos, first published 2012.

Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

This recipe uses raw eggs, which are essentially cooked by tossing with hot pasta. They are not cooked to the point of scrambled though, just enough to thicken the eggs into a sauce.

The garlic is optional. It is not usually included in pasta carbonara, but it tastes great so we've included it. By the way, "guanciale", or pork jowl, is traditionally used in this dish, so if you can get it, by all means use it.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound pancetta or thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, about 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • 3-4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta (or bucatini or fettuccine)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

1 Heat pasta water: Put a large pot of salted water on to boil (1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts of water.)

2 Sauté pancetta/bacon and garlic: While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook slowly until crispy. Add the garlic (if using) and cook another minute, then turn off the heat and put the pancetta and garlic into a large bowl.

3 Beat eggs and half of the cheese: In a small bowl, beat the eggs and mix in about half of the cheese.

4 Cook pasta: Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the dry pasta, and cook, uncovered, at a rolling boil.

5 Toss pasta with pancetta/bacon: When the pasta is al dente (still a little firm, not mushy), use tongs to move it to the bowl with the bacon and garlic. Let it be dripping wet. Reserve some of the pasta water.

Move the pasta from the pot to the bowl quickly, as you want the pasta to be hot. It's the heat of the pasta that will heat the eggs sufficiently to create a creamy sauce. Toss everything to combine, allowing the pasta to cool just enough so that it doesn't make the eggs curdle when you mix them in. (That's the tricky part.)

6 Add the beaten egg mixture: Add the beaten eggs with cheese and toss quickly to combine once more. Add salt to taste. Add some pasta water back to the pasta to keep it from drying out.

Serve at once with the rest of the parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

If you want, sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley.

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Links:

Zucchini with Pasta Carbonara here on Simply Recipes

Spaghetti carbonara for beginners from Adam the Amateur Gourmet

Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemons from Alexandra Cooks

Spaghetti Carbonara

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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80 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • A McDougald

    Easy and YUMMY! Did I mention Easy?

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  • Enya Alcindor

    This recipe was perfect! simple, quick and super easy. I added some shrimp in mine just to give it a little more protein. I definitely recommend this recipe.I will surely be making this plate again.Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • NikB

    I had no idea this was so easy. My husband said “hey, what’s that pasta dish with the cooked, thick bacon?” I replied “Carbonara?” and promptly looked it up. I did a 2-person version and only used 2 eggs.
    I let fresh ground black pepper, pancetta fat and pecorino take the taste lead on this one. No garlic or any other spices, with the creamy egg sauce. It was simple and perfect! and I added 1 tbsp of pasta water at a time until the egg mixture didn’t look like egg anymore and just a sauce. WOW. I’ll do that again! Thank you!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Ann

    So easy to make on a quick night for dinner. Will definitely be making it again! Next time, will try with zucchini pasta. :)

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Oliver

    Great recipe! I made it multiple times and it was perfect every time

    xxxxxyyyyy

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Pasta Carbonara ready to serveSpaghetti Pasta Carbonara