Simple Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Spaghetti carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish that is loved and enjoyed by many, and for good reason. Simple to cook, and utterly delicious, everyone should know how to cook this staple recipe from the comfort of their own kitchens.

Often thought of as a cream-based pasta dish, the traditional Italian version of carbonara doesn't use cream. In fact, if you were to add cream to it, it would be considered an entirely different dish. Instead, the correct way to make carbonara is to use a mixture of eggs, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and pasta water to coat the spaghetti. This creates the beautiful, silky, and flavorful sauce for which spaghetti carbonara is known for.

Although it is bursting with flavor, spaghetti carbonara is actually a very simple meal, and so it doesn't need any fancy accompanying side dishes. Recipe developer Jennine Rye recommends serving it up with some fresh grilled vegetables, or even a fresh salad with Italian dressing. The key is to keep it simple, and allow the rich flavors of the carbonara to do the talking.

Gather the ingredients for this spaghetti carbonara

To make this spaghetti carbonara, first you will need to gather your ingredients. You will want good quality spaghetti, eggs, butter, garlic, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and pancetta. Because there are so few ingredients in this recipe, it is important that they are good quality, as this will create the best flavor for your dish.

Mix the cheese and eggs

To begin, crack the eggs into a small bowl, and add the grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, then season with a little salt and pepper. Using a fork or a whisk, mix everything together until it is throughly combined. This will be the base for your carbonara sauce. Set this aside while cooking the other ingredients.

Cook the spaghetti

When making spaghetti, you will want to use the largest saucepan you have to make sure that the spaghetti has plenty of room to cook. When the water begins to boil, liberally salt the water before adding the spaghetti. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't necessary to add any oil to your pasta water, as this may stop the sauce from adhering to the spaghetti once it has cooked.

Allow the spaghetti to cook until it is just al dente, as you will want it to cook for 1 or 2 minutes longer with the sauce. 

Fry the pancetta

While the spaghetti cooks, heat up a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium, and then add the butter and the chopped pancetta. Lightly crush the garlic clove by pressing down on it using the ball of your hand, or carefully with the side of a knife. Add the crushed garlic to the pan, and allow the ingredients to cook until the pancetta is golden and crispy around the edges, around 5 minutes. Remove the garlic clove from the pan, and turn the heat down to low until the spaghetti is ready. 

Make the carbonara sauce

Once the spaghetti is al dente, drain it in a colander, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the pancetta, and stir it around to coat. Then, remove the pan from the heat, and add a splash of the reserved pasta water.

Stir the egg and Parmesan mixture into the pan. Keep moving the spaghetti around the pan, and as the mixture is gently heated, it will become glossy and form a silky coating. If the carbonara looks a little dry, add more pasta water. Once the sauce has become smooth, serve the spaghetti carbonara straight away, with additional Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.

Simple Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
5 from 44 ratings
This traditional carbonara recipe will transport you straight to Italy from the comfort of your own home.
Prep Time
Cook Time
spaghetti carbonara in a bowl
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 2 medium eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 7 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 5 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, then set aside.
  2. Bring a large saucepan with water and salt to a boil, and add the spaghetti. Cook according to the package instructions, until the spaghetti is al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, heat up a large frying pan over medium, add the butter, the pancetta, and the garlic, and allow everything to cook for 5 minutes, until the pancetta is golden brown. Remove the garlic from the pan, and reduce the heat to low, until the spaghetti is done.
  4. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1 cup of pasta water from the pan. Add the spaghetti to the pan with the pancetta, and move it around to thoroughly coat.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and add a splash of the reserved pasta water. Then, add the egg and Parmesan mixture to the pan, and mix well, so that the spaghetti is coated with in mixture. If the carbonara looks a little dry, add another splash of water. Serve straight away, topped with extra Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.
Calories per Serving 896
Total Fat 49.8 g
Saturated Fat 21.2 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 258.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 76.9 g
Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
Total Sugars 3.7 g
Sodium 776.0 mg
Protein 32.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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