Spaghetti Carbonara

How many times have you stood staring into your refrigerator wondering what to make for dinner? If you have, you certainly aren’t alone and Spaghetti Carbonara might be the answer as it only takes a few simple ingredients. If you’ve got fresh eggs, bacon or pancetta, pecorino Romano or other hard Italian grating cheese and spaghetti then you can prepare this delicious, creamy pasta dish and have it sitting on your dinner table in under thirty minutes.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara

In Italy, Rome in particular, this dish is traditionally made with guanciale, which is a pork cheek cured with salt and pepper, or pancetta which is similar to our bacon but is unsmoked. If you have guanciale or pancetta, by all means use it but bacon is what most of us will have in our refrigerator and works well in this recipe. You can also use another kind of pasta other than spaghetti and if you are not worried about authenticity, you might like adding ingredients such as onions or peas to the dish. There are also versions that add cream to the recipe but I don’t believe it is necessary as the eggs create a rich and creamy tasting sauce on their own.

Spaghetti Carbonara 

Recipe serves 2 generously, adjust accordingly.

  • 3 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks*   While the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, if you feel more comfortable, you can use pasteurized eggs in this recipe
  • salt, garlic powder and onion powder, about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. each and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 c. grated pecorino Romano cheese, more at the time of serving
  • 8 oz. spaghetti, more or less, depending on if this will be a first or main course

Place the chopped bacon in a large sauté pan and cook until browned and crisp, then set the pan aside.

While bacon is cooking, beat the eggs in a small bowl with a sprinkling of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and the cheese then set aside.

In the meantime, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package directions, until it is al dente. Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the cooking water then drain the pasta. Add the spaghetti to the sauté pan with the bacon and bacon fat then return to the heat. Toss well to coat everything then remove the pan from the heat.

Once the pan is off the heat and slightly cooled, add the egg mixture to the pasta and toss very quickly and continuously. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs and create a smooth and creamy sauce. Just remember to toss well as you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs.  If the pasta looks a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to loosen the sauce. Taste for seasoning, you might need to add additional cheese or salt.

Place the spaghetti into individual warm serving bowls or plates. You can garnish the dish with a little chopped parsley for color and add an additional sprinkling of cheese and a grating of black pepper, if you wish. This is one dish that needs to be served immediately.

Note: This meal comes together very quickly, so make sure that your table is set and any sides that you might be serving with the pasta are ready and waiting to go to the table.

****

Now as easy as this recipe is to prepare, I have to say that I don’t make it…my husband makes this for us. This pasta dish was originally introduced to his family when to his mother and father had dinner at a friend’s home and my husband’s father feel in love with spaghetti carbonara.

On one of those evenings when I was staring into the refrigerator wondering what to cook, my husband quickly stepped up and said no problem, “I’m cooking dinner tonight and it is a surprise”. And as they say, the rest is history. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients, the ones that are not only inexpensive for most of us but that we usually have in our kitchens, can be turned into a delicious and satisfying meal. I hope you will give one of my husband’s specialties a try, I believe you will enjoy spaghetti carbonara as much as I do. Buon Appetito!

 

 

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225 thoughts on “Spaghetti Carbonara

  1. This made me smile. We had spaghetti carbonara for dinner, and then I sat down at the computer and discovered your husband’s version of our dinner! And why did we have spaghetti carbonara? Because I looked in the fridge/cupboards, and all the ingredients were at hand. It’s one of my favourite meals 🙂

    1. Now that is a coincidence isn’t it Gallivanta. It seems that most of us have the ingredients in our kitchen to make spaghetti carbonara. I think it is a delicious meal and I’m glad you agree. 😀

  2. I simply adore Spaghetti Carbonara!! When we lived in Malta we frequented a great restaurant situated on the Med. Sea not too far from our ‘flat’. Spaghetti Carbonara was the dish I ordered most there and it was unfailingly fabulous. Great recipe Karen – or, should I say, “Karen’s husband”! Have a great day down there in sunny Florida!! ; o )

    1. I’ll pass on the compliment, Cecile. I really like spaghetti carbonara but enjoying it while sitting by the sea would really be special.

  3. Love Spaghetti Carbonara.,Lucky you having it made for you by your husband. One evening our 15 year old grandson invited us to eat with him as his Mum & Dad were out, and it was delicious.
    Sometimes the most simplest of meals can be the best. I must remember that one, the next time I have friends arrive unexpectedly, then I can invite them to stay and eat with us, and use what we had planned to eat the next day. Hope alls with you and your enjoying sunshine instead of your usual snow.

    1. You made me smile Barbara. I said how easy this dish is to make and you confirmed it by letting me know your grandson made it for you and your husband. 🙂 I do think simple meals can be some of our best and memorable. We really are enjoying are winter without snow, thank you so much for asking.

  4. It sounds delicious to me, and my husband is the one who always cooks pasta in this house as well. Take care Diane

    1. Hi Diane, Aren’t we lucky to have husbands who like to cook. I’m glad to know that you like his recipe for spaghetti carbonara…I’ll let him know.

    1. Thank you Madonna, I’m glad that you like the looks of this dish. It is one of my husband’s specialties and I definitely think you should give it a try…it’s delicious.

  5. This was the first dish I had in Italy when we traveled there this past summer. I love it. My husband has been doing a lot of the cooking in our house lately. I love to sit back with my feet up listening to him clatter pans and surprise me with tasty dishes. We are lucky they are not averse to the kitchen.

    1. Hi Penny, This is such a classic dish and certainly one of my favorites. Having it in Italy makes it all the more enjoyable. We really are lucky…what is nice is that he does the dishes too, even when I cook. 🙂

  6. Karen, how nice – I just made Spaghetti Carbonara last week and the kids adored them! It is one wonderful, fuss-free, and crowd-pleasing dish! I am sure that you enjoyed it as much as we didi!
    Celebrating Carnival around here and despite the weather forecasts, the sun is shining & the sky is blue!
    All the best,
    Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea, This is one of my favorite dishes that my husband prepares and you are right, it is a crowd pleasing dish. I can see why your whole family would enjoy it. Carnival in Cologne…wish I was there, it has to be lots of fun. Hope the weather cooperates. 🙂

    1. Hi Judy, It really was delicious. I’m sure they thought we were real sissies leaving our beautiful home because of the snow and cold. It’s funny this year in New England started out mild like last year…I just hope you don’t get all the snow the way last year ended. Wish I could send some sun your way to melt that snow. Take care my friend, I enjoy all your posts as they kept me in touch with beautiful New Hampshire. 😀

  7. Quick and delicious…pasta is the solution when you have no idea what to prepare for the family.

  8. I have a special affection for spaghetti carbonara as it is one of the dishes I taught my daughter to cook before she went to college. This got her through four years of feeding (and impressing( her friends. Oh yeah, I love it too!

    1. Hi Karen, Smart mother teaching your daughter to prepare spaghetti carbonara. If every young girl had this in their cooking repertoire, they would be very popular.

    1. Hi Jo, Now that makes three of my readers who have made carbonara in the past few days. I guess that is why we are blogging buddies, we all have similar tastes. 😀

    1. Hi Kay, It is a real pleasure when my husband cooks for me, he’s very good. I’ll pass on your compliment to him, he will appreciate it.

    1. Hi Ingrid, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and my husband’s recipe. I think you husband would be pleased with this dish, I think it is real good.

  9. Looks really good, Karen! I can tell the creaminess is just perfect and I’m kind of an expert here! 😜
    I make spaghetti alla carbonara almost every week but – being born and raised in Roma – I have been taught to cook it without no seasoning other than some salt and black pepper.
    How come Stefano never tells me “I’m cooking dinner tonight and it is a surprise”? Some women are really lucky! 😜

    1. Hi Francesca, My husband will be happy to know that you like the looks of his carbonara. Salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder which my husband refers to as “spog” show up in most of his cooking. His version may not be traditional but it is delicious. I do have to admit that I’m a lucky girl, not only does my husband love cooking for me, he washes the dishes for me every evening. 😀

  10. You’re so right: This is one of the easiest — and tastiest! — pasta dishes, ever. Not one we have that often for some reason — maybe once a year or so. Need to change that! Great dish — thanks.

    1. Hi John, Isn’t it nice that you can put this delicious meal together basically in the time it takes to boil the pasta…it really is easy. You definitely need to have it more than once a year. 🙂

    1. Hi Deb, When time is of the essence, this is a good dish. What’s nice is that most us of have all the ingredients in our kitchens…just like you said, you keep bacon in your freezer. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Thank you Amira for your visit and your lovely compliment. This is a very easy dish to prepare. So true, I really do have a nice husband…he’s a keeper. 🙂

  11. Hi Karen, this is one of my favorite meals, but I have always used cream. Funny enough, I now work with a couple of Italian men, one from Rome, and they have told me on more than one occasion not to put cream in it! We were even given some authentic guanciale from Italy. I will have to try your recipe without the cream now 🙂 Dana

    1. Hi Dana, Lucky you to have been given some guanciale from Italy. As good as your version must be, I think you should heed the advice from your Italian associates and give carbonara without the cream. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

    1. Hi Lorraine, It seems to have everything going for it, delicious and so quickly prepared. I’m with you about spaghetti. Would you believe that I packed a big box with packages of spaghetti when we moved south. It seems they don’t sell the one I like in my area. 😀

  12. It’s been the longest time since I’ve served any version of spaghetti carbonara, Karen, and now I know it’s a must! I have a house full of very hungry mouths to feed this week, including children, and I can’t imagine this wouldn’t be a huge hit! And easy! Thank you for the excellent suggestion…or maybe I should thank your husband? 🙂

    1. Thanks Michelle, I’m glad you like my husband’s version. I know you’ve made this dish with guanciale…I’ve not seen it in my neck of the woods. 🙂

  13. This is such a simple and delicious meal. It’s one of the first things I learned to cook when I was married! Love your husband’s recipe.

  14. I have made this before and I find the pancetta to be less strong and smoky than bacon. I’d like to try your suggestion of adding peas, I love them and it would be a healthy addition.

    Thank you for sparking my desire to make this again soon!

    Jane

    1. You are right Jane, if you don’t want a smoky taste definitely use pancetta and guanciale in recipes. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and that it has you thinking about making carbonara again.

  15. I think half of the week is spent wondering around the kitchen, sitting on the floor in defeat muttering “What to have for dinner!”. We just had a dish like this last week but I added in a few greens. It’s a hit for those nights where you need something quick! Yours looks delicious!

    1. So very true Pamela…what to have for dinner is always on our mind. Especially if you are hoping to create something new or different. With all the wonderful veggies you grow, adding them to pasta will always make for a good dinner.

    1. Hi Shelba, I’m so happy to know that you found my blog and have enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much for your lovely compliment. I enjoyed meeting you on your recent visit at Nancy’s. 🙂

    1. Hi Gerlinde, My husband’s carbonara is definitely delicious, I’ll pass along your compliment. We are indeed lucky to have husbands that do the dishes. No matter how many spoons I’ve used and pots I’ve dirtied, my husband is right behind me cleaning.

    1. I’m so happy you like the recipe, Theodora. I hope you enjoy the carbonara as much as I do. I’ll certainly pass on your compliment to my husband, he will really appreciate it. 😀

  16. It’s such a classic and the best dishes like this which are simply made but with love and care are so good. And clearly a lot of folk agree judging by the number of comments you have here 🙂

    1. Hi Tanya, I have to say that I’ve been surprised that this dish is a favorite of so many people and yet I’m not. It tastes great and is easy to make. I guess that says it all. 😀

  17. Karen, I mean it sincerely, this is the most beautiful spaghetti carbonara I have seen. I like cheek meats, and to hear that pork cheek cured with salt and pepper is traditionally used was quite intriguing. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Fae, for your lovely compliment…how very nice. Yes, traditionally the dish is made with cured pork cheek. When it’s not always available, pancetta or bacon make a good substitute.

  18. I haven’t made carbonara in years—and you’re right, those ingredients are always available. Bill makes sure we’re never without bacon in the freezer 🙂
    P.S. Thanks for noticing I’d left the okra out of my recipe! All fixed.

    1. Hi Liz, Perhaps it’s time to take a little bacon out of the freezer and whip up this dish again. My pleasure about the okra, which I like by the way.

  19. Karen, this is one of our favorite pasta, and somehow I have never attempted to make it at home…yours looks super delicious…what a treat!
    Have a great week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Juliana, If you like this dish then you really should try preparing it yourself. It is super simple. Thank you for your compliment and wish, I hope your week is going well too.

  20. I have never made spaghetti carbonara. After reading your post–and everyone’s comments– I’m definitely going to have to give it a try. I liked your tip about this meal coming together very quickly,. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made meals that came together more quickly then I thought they would, and didn’t have my table and sides ready.

    1. Hi Sheryl, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad you liked the tip about having everything else ready as this dish comes together quickly. I hope you will enjoy the dish as much as I do.

  21. Looks delicious Karen. I make a vegan version of this dish, but I love the idea of adding onion and garlic powder to the sauce, which will certainly make the flavour even rounder! In fact, I will try it tonight! (I make a cashew cream sauce and use vegan bacon 😉 )

    1. Hi Cathy, While the onion and garlic powder might not be traditionally added, they do in fact add to the overall taste. It is always interesting to learn how dishes like this are adapted…thanks for sharing.

  22. We both love Carbonara and I’m not sure why I’ve never made it. As you say, I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and even have some pancetta frozen right now. Okay, must make! Thanks for reminding me of it. 🙂

    1. Hi Betsy, I know what you mean…sometimes we don’t try a dish at home that we like ordering when we eat out. Since the two of you both love carbonara, I definitely think you should give it a try…it is so easy to prepare. My pleasure and enjoy!

  23. Dear Karen, how happy I am to see the real carbonara (i.e. without cream)! I am keen on adding any vegetable or crazy ingredient, but cream…. for me it just destroys its sophisticated flavours (yes, I think it’s sophisticated in spite of such simple ingredients) and makes it a boring, greasy bowl of pasta.
    (On the other hand, I know Italians will be angry to hear it, but I prefer carbonara with smoked bacon and not guanciale/pancetta; I just love the smoky bacon’s flavours.) Thank you for reminding me of this fabulous dish I haven’t had in ages! Your carbonara looks so delicious, I almost feel like having a second dinner.

    1. Hi Sissi, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post about my husband’s spaghetti carbonara and that it reminded you that you should not wait so long to have it again. Thank you for your nice compliment…I’ll be sure to pass it along.

  24. I haven’t had carbonara since my favorite Italian restaurant shut down a few years back. I always ordered it there. Love you recipe and it’s so simple. Definitely will be making this for us soon.

    1. Hi MJ, You don’t need to wait any longer, this recipe is so simple to prepare and I really love it. I hope you enjoy my husband’s carbonara recipe.

  25. Hi Katerina, You are right about no cream as far as the Italians are concerned and you know something, they are right. The eggs and cheese make this deliciously creamy on their own. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’ll pass it along.

  26. Hi Karen:)
    Oh goodness in more ways than one, lol…First because your husband’s Carbonara looks absolutely delicious! And, second, it’s just about time for me to look in the fridge to “throw” something together for dinner. Conundrum satisfied! Thanks Karen:) (I had planned on making fish tonight but, alas, Wegman’s didn’t get a fresh delivery today:)

    We both LOVE Spaghetti Carbonara minus the cream, lol…

    Thanks for sharing Karen…Pinning!

    P.S. Yes, 2 cups of flour 1/2 cup oat bran for the Bran Muffins.

    1. Hi Louise, I’m happy that my timing was good and that you like the looks of my husband’s carbonara recipe. I appreciate the pin, thanks so much. Also thank you for the clarification on the muffin recipe…I thought that was it but wanted to make sure.

  27. This meal is on high rotation in my kitchen for a number of reasons. It’s affordable, it requires only a few ingredients, it contains readily available ingredients, it takes only minutes to prepare and most importantly, everyone loves it! I might even make it tonight! How lovely that your husband makes this for you xx

    1. I totally agree with you Charlie, I guess that is why it is so popular. I always enjoy when my husband makes it for me, it is delicious. 🙂

  28. Spaghetti carbonara… such magical words! A fork is all that I’d need to devour it. This pasta dish reminds of Lady and the Tramp — so romantic!
    Wishing you a very Happy V-day, Karen!

    1. Hi Debra, This dish certainly does have a lot going for it. Thank you, I’m glad you like my husband’s recipe…he uses bacon like Ruth does. 🙂

  29. One of the things that we learned while visiting Italy is that their food is simple and simply delicious. I love the way you’ve prepared this carbonara. It’s a beautiful dish and I agree that you don’t need the cream.

    1. I agree with you Julie, Italy’s food is know for being simple and this is one dish that definitely doesn’t need cream to make it delicious. Thank you for your lovely compliment.

  30. Oh be still my beating foodie heart! I could devour classic carbonara on a daily basis, if only I wouldn’t gain the pounds from a daily indulgence! If I could get my hands on some guanciale in a market close by, I’d bee-line there immediately. However, I think the only way to get it in the South is to head to Atlanta somewhere. Love this post and recipe! PS: We have the same “French Garden” dishes!!!!

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment, Roz. I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and my husband’s recipe. Isn’t it a shame that we can’t eat pasta every day and keep our girlish bodies. 😀 My dishes are well traveled, I bought them in Florida, moved them to New Hampshire, then to our summer cottage in Maine, back to N.H. and now back to Florida. 😀

  31. Hi Karen, you are right it is a great failsafe dish that everyone loves. I remember being taught how to make it when i lived in Florence. My teacher certainly wasn’t hard on the eye so it was a bit hard to pay attention. Lucky it is easy to make!

    1. Thank you for stopping by for a visit Julie. I’m happy to know that this post brought back nice memories of your mother making you pasta carbonara and I appreciate your nice comment.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth, I do believe that you would like this dish, I’m always so happy when my husband make it for us. It really is delicious.

    1. Hi Hungry Mum, I do think you and your girls would enjoy the pasta, I hope you will give it a try sometime. Thank you for your visit and nice comment.

  32. I have never eaten spaghetti carbonara before. By reading the recipe and seeing the picture I can tell that it is delicious! It is something that I will put on my to make list.

  33. I feel like I live in front of my refrigerator, because I am constantly standing in front of it and wondering what the heck to make! I LOVE carbonara and yours looks fabulous! Dinner perfection going on here! Cheers and thanks for sharing the YUM!

    1. Thank you Cheyanne, for your visit and very nice compliment. Yes, I think there are times when trying to figure out what we will prepare for dinner is a real challenge. I’m happy that you like my suggestion. 🙂

    1. Hi Nancy, I’m with you about pasta…I’ve got quite a selection in my pantry. I’m happy that you like the looks of my husband’s carbonara, it is one of my favorites.

    1. Hi Didi, I’m glad that you like my husband’s spaghetti carbonara, I do think it is a good one. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’ll happily pass it along.

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Kelli. If you enjoy this dish at restaurants then you definitely need to prepare it at home…it is so easy to do.

  34. This looks and sounds so wonderful, Karen! Bacon and pasta – what a great combination. I will have to keep this in mind for the next time I don’t know what to fix! I like that it is so easy, too.

  35. Lovely! This is one of my favourite dishes ever and I make it like this too because I was taught by an Italian friend! 🙂 Great picture you’ve made too. You know I’ve never published a carbonara in my blog because everytime I try to photograph it, it looks like vomit in my photos… So what a great job you’ve done! xx

  36. Thank you for your nice compliment, Sofia. I agree with you, some of the dishes that we cook and eat are hard to photograph. I’m glad that you like this photo. 🙂

  37. Hi Karen, you are so right, simple is always delicious. Love this dish, a real keeper. So nice that your husband offers to prepare dinner on some nights, he sounds like a gem. Have a great week-end!

    1. Hi Cheri, I agree with you about my husband, he’s a keeper. 🙂 I do enjoy when he cooks dinner for me and this is one of his dishes that I really like.

    1. Hi Julie, Yes, since I’m usually creating meals for just my husband and I, most all my recipes will be for two and can easily be adjusted if you are cooking for more. It was my pleasure to stop by for a visit and I appreciate your nice comment here.

  38. Although my husband is a native born Italian, his family never made carbonara. I introduced it to him, as I first had it on a trip to Rome before I met him. I love eggs, so to me this sauce was heavenly. I don’t make it that often, but it is always a special treat when I do. Your husband’s recipe is wonderful–generous portions are the best for such a delicious sauce!

  39. Hi Pat, As you discovered, spaghetti carbonara is a dish from the area around Rome. Isn’t it funny that you introduced it to your Italian husband. Yes, with something this good, a generous portion is always appreciated. I’m glad you like my husband’s recipe, I’ll pass along the compliment.

  40. I had been planning to post my recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara two weeks ago and planned to prepare it for two of my friends… but that never worked out. However, a few of my husband’s family ‘lucked out’ because they were served the Spaghetti Carbonara and loved it.
    I ended up not posting the recipe because I didn’t have time to take any photos…. not with a hungry brother-in-law waiting to eat – so I plan to make it again soon (my neighbors will be happy ’cause I’ll share it with them) and post it, hopefully this Saturday.
    Isn’t it interesting how even something a simple as Spaghetti Carbonara can have so many wonderful versions. Your Spaghetti Carbonara looks scrumptious!!! ; o )

  41. It’s been ages since I ate carbonara. Funnily enough, I’ve been watching those versions on Facebook that are made in the massive cheese wheel (do you have any idea what I’m taking about? It’s basically using the cheese wheel as a bowl to ‘dress’ the pasta, scraping bits of cheese off the side!) and it’s really made me want to revisit the recipe. This looks absolutely delicious. Yum! Great post for a warming meal xx

    1. Hi Laura, I do know what you are talking about. There is an Italian restaurant not far from the Munich airport where we have eaten several times. They have a huge wheel of cheese where they toss the pasta before serving it. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you.

      1. Oh wow, that’s really cool! I’d love to see someone do that in real life! Maybe not in Munich though, haha… just a little bit far away! x

  42. This my go to dish for those nights when I really don’t want to cook anything. We raise our own pork. Have our own chickens. Make our own pasta. One could say – We Own the dish. But no matter where you live pasta Carbonara is a blue ribbon dish.

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