Carbonara-Style Risotto Recipe

Two of Italy's best dishes combine into one carb-loaded powerhouse in this carbonara risotto. Crispy pancetta, silky egg yolks, and nutty pecorino Romano cheese are the main players, while garlic and white wine are in supporting roles. Believe it or not, there is absolutely no cream involved in this dish. Just like the classic Roman pasta recipe, the creaminess is achieved through cooking technique and eggs. 

Recipe developer Leah Maroney knows how daunting making risotto can be, so her tips and tricks help make this dish flawless every time. "The three most important parts of the process are toasting the rice in the garlic- and onion-infused oil, adding room temperature wine before adding any broth, and vigorously stirring the risotto," Maroney explains. Her other secret is adding an extra ladleful of broth once the risotto is fully cooked, along with butter and cheese, and allowing it to "rest" while covered for a few minutes. "This creates a creamy, barely-there broth to the rice," she says.

Serve this risotto with some hearty bread to soak up any remaining rice, as well as a side salad to lighten things up. If you're looking for some flair when serving, try cracking an egg yolk onto each plate of risotto before serving. Then guests can mix the yolk into their servings themselves. 

Gather your ingredients for this creamy carbonara risotto

Carbonara risotto starts with browning some diced pancetta, which gives you a nice flavor base for the dish since you'll cook it in the same pan you use for the risotto. Onion and garlic are sauteed in the drippings, followed by the Arborio rice. Next you'll add white wine and chicken broth, then butter and grated pecorino Romano cheese. You'll need 3 eggs to make this risotto; both the whites and yolks are used for a rich yet fluffy consistency.

Step 1: Cook the pancetta

Add pancetta to a large, high-sided pan and cook until brown and crispy, about 4 minutes.

Step 2: Prep the onion and garlic

Meanwhile, dice the onion and mince the garlic.

Step 3: Reserve the pancetta

Remove pancetta and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan.

Step 4: Saute the onion and garlic

Add onion and garlic to the same pan with salt, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon butter. Saute until softened, about 4 minutes.

Step 5: Toast the rice

Add rice to the pan and toast, stirring frequently, until glossy and translucent with a hint of browning.

Step 6: Add the wine

Add white wine and stir until absorbed.

Step 7: Heat the chicken broth

Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in a separate pot over low heat.

Step 8: Cook the risotto by gradually adding broth

Add 1 ladleful broth to the rice at a time, stirring until absorbed, before adding the next ladleful. Repeat process of adding broth and stirring until absorbed until the rice is just barely al dente, about 20 minutes.

Step 9: Reserve some broth

Reserve 1 cup chicken broth before turning off the heat.

Step 10: Separate the eggs

Separate the egg whites and yolks.

Step 11: Beat the egg whites

Beat egg whites with a whisk until just frothy.

Step 12: Whisk the egg whites with the broth

Slowly whisk the egg whites into the reserved cup of broth.

Step 13: Add the egg white mixture to the rice

Slowly pour the egg white mixture into the risotto and stir.

Step 14: Add the butter and cheese

Add remaining butter and pecorino Romano, stir, and let sit, covered, for 2-3 minutes.

Step 15: Add the egg yolks

Remove the lid and add the egg yolks. Whisk to incorporate.

Step 16: Add the crispy pancetta

Serve risotto right away, garnished with crispy pancetta and additional pecorino Romano.

How can I reheat leftover carbonara-style risotto?

Risotto is such a cozy and comforting meal. It's best served immediately after its final rest, but it can be reheated on the stovetop if needed. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or you can freeze it in a flattened plastic storage bag. Freezing risotto in ice cube trays also works well. When you're ready to reheat and eat, add a little chicken broth or water to a saucepan and then add in the rice. Cook the risotto until most of the liquid has absorbed and the rice is heated through and hot. Adding a lid can be helpful. Once you're done reheating, serve with more cheese, of course!

This leftover risotto can also be made into carbonara arancini, which are little breaded and fried rice balls. Roll the cooled rice into balls, then cool them in the fridge on a sheet tray. Once chilled and set, they can be coated in egg, flour, and breadcrumbs and fried. 

Can I make ingredient substitutions in this carbonara-style risotto?

This recipe calls for pancetta for the cured pork component, however, other pork products can be used. Traditionally, guanciale (cured pork cheek) is used in carbonara, although it can be difficult to find outside of Italy. Both guanciale and pancetta are cured, but not smoked. They are similar to bacon but do not have the smoky flavor. You can use bacon for this recipe if you wish. There will be a difference in taste, but it can be quite nice. The most important aspect is the fat quantity. As long as there is ample fat, it can be used in this recipe. 

Pecorino Romano cheese is a sheep's milk cheese from Rome. It has a stronger flavor than Parmigiano Reggiano, which is made from cow's milk. However, you can use Parmesan in place of the pecorino in this dish. The pecorino has a bit more bite, and since there are so few ingredients, you do want the strongest-tasting and best-quality items. Nevertheless, Parmesan is also delicious and will give a similar flavor profile. 

Carbonara-Style Risotto Recipe
4.9 from 25 ratings
Two Italian staples unite in this comfort meal. Crispy pancetta, silky egg yolks, and nutty pecorino Romano are the perfect flavorings for simple risotto.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
30
minutes
Servings
4
servings
risotto carbonara with pancetta in bowl
Total time: 40 minutes
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ⅔ cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
Directions
  1. Add pancetta to a large, high-sided pan and cook until brown and crispy, about 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  3. Remove pancetta and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pan.
  4. Add onion and garlic to the same pan with salt, black pepper, and 1 tablespoon butter. Saute until softened, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add rice to the pan and toast, stirring frequently, until glossy and translucent with a hint of browning.
  6. Add white wine and stir until absorbed.
  7. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth in a separate pot over low heat.
  8. Add 1 ladleful broth to the rice at a time, stirring until absorbed, before adding the next ladleful.
  9. Repeat process of adding broth and stirring until absorbed until the rice is just barely al dente, about 20 minutes.
  10. Reserve 1 cup chicken broth before turning off the heat.
  11. Separate the egg whites and yolks.
  12. Beat egg whites with a whisk until just frothy.
  13. Slowly whisk the egg whites into the reserved cup of broth.
  14. Slowly pour the egg white mixture into the risotto and stir.
  15. Add remaining butter and pecorino Romano, stir, and let sit, covered, for 2-3 minutes.
  16. Remove the lid and add the egg yolks. Whisk to incorporate.
  17. Serve risotto right away, garnished with crispy pancetta and additional pecorino Romano.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 637
Total Fat 32.7 g
Saturated Fat 15.4 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 193.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.0 g
Total Sugars 5.7 g
Sodium 1,049.5 mg
Protein 23.2 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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