Ultimate spaghetti carbonara

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara

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(128 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins - 20 mins Cook: 15 mins


Serves 4
Discover how to make the perfect Spaghetti carbonara - with a little help from Gennaro Contaldo

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal655
  • fat31g
  • saturates16g
  • carbs66g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre3g
  • protein32g
  • salt2.02g
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  • 100g pancetta



    Pancetta is Italian cured pork belly - the equivalent of streaky bacon. It has a deep, strong,…

  • 50g pecorino cheese
  • 50g Parmesan



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 3 large egg
  • 350g spaghetti (De Cecco is very good)
  • 2 plump garlic clove, peeled and left whole
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • Maldon salt and freshly grated black pepper


  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Finely chop the pancetta, having first removed any rind. Finely grate both cheeses and mix them together. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, season with a little freshly grated black pepper and set everything aside.

  2. Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add the spaghetti and when the water comes back to the boil, cook at a constant simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until al dente (just cooked).

  3. Squash the garlic with the blade of a knife, just to bruise it. While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the pancetta with the garlic. Drop the butter into a large wide frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the pancetta and garlic. Leave these to cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the pancetta is golden and crisp. The garlic has now imparted its flavour, so take it out with a slotted spoon and discard.

  4. Keep the heat under the pancetta on low.When the pasta is ready lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the pancetta (see left). Don’t worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don’t throw the rest of the pasta water away yet.

  5. Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later. Take the pan of spaghetti and pancetta off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese and, using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn’t scramble, and everything is coated. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don’t want it wet, just moist. Season with a little salt, if needed.

  6. Use a long-pronged fork to twist the pasta on to the serving plate or bowl. Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a grating of black pepper. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water and the glossy sauciness will be revived.

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Comments (137)

cottier_b's picture

Sounds like you had the heat too high jenny when you stirred the eggs in. If you found it too salty use more parmesan than pecorino or just use parmesan.

siblywib's picture

I'm never ordering carbonara in a restaurant again! This was much better - I added a bit of cream in with the cheese/egg mixture to make it a richer sauce, which was very nice indeed.

fruitcake44's picture

Was looking for a recipe to use up the rest of a smoked ham joint I had and this worked a treat. Chopped my ham into tiny cubes and only used parmesan as this is all I had, I also crushed my garlic as I wanted to keep it in and also added some mushrooms. As a family we tend to like quite a lot of sauce with our pasta meals so I was worried this might be a bit dry for us but I needn't have worried as the spaghetti was coated in a beautiful rich and creamy tasting sauce. Whole family loved it.

Yuliya.s's picture

loved this, near enough what I expect when ordering in a restaurant and so easy! Definitely a new mid-week regular :)

laini's picture

Highly recommended, simple and delicious. Just for personal taste though, we leave the garlic in.

LewNew92's picture

Trying this out tomorrow for the missus!

deblah's picture

so easy to cook, and all the family loved it, have made it twice in two weeks! ;-)

Gemsjw's picture

This was absolutely delicious. Will definitely be making this fantastic recipe again. Highly recommended.

leanne holmes's picture

First time making this tonight and wow it was lovely!easy but so tasty!the family loved it, would definitely recommend giving it a try.

tillyfloss80's picture

So delicious.
Similar to other recipes but somehow this one works perfectly. I admit that I was tempted to add some cream but it really doesn't need it. Can't wait to make it again.

amitchellsister's picture

Just made this store cupboard classic! Substituted pancetta for smoked bacon and added a dash of mustard. Perfect recipe for a hungry husband!

frankbuch's picture

Thank you so much for this recipe.
This is indeed the ultimate Spaghetti Carbonara!!!
I have been trying to cook this great dish for many years, with shameful results ( and ingredients like creme fraiche and bacon...) and can only recommend not to look further : this is simplicity and harmony, as Italian cooking should be, provided the recipe is followed without any deviation.

jazzyb543's picture

This was a great simple dinner recipe which I made last night I highly reccomend

vikster67's picture

This was delicious and enjoyed down to last morsel in our house. Not a bit left on the plates. I followed the recipe but only used parmesan and I like that no cream is necessary. Very tasty without it.

alansmag's picture

I made this for the kids and I tonight and it was all going really well until I added the eggs...scrambled! such a shame, the kids eat it but I cannot stand scrambled eggs so I was turned right off. I may try it again , but I don't really fancy wasting the ingredients if it happens again...

tespley1's picture

Hmm, sounds like someone messed it up and is blaming the recipe!

mindymoo62's picture

I made this for dinner tonight. I used smoked bacon, trimmed and 2 chopped garlic cloves. Also added a splash of cream at the end. Really tasty and enjoyed by all.
Quite rich and filling, but very yummy. Will definitely make again.

Godin's picture

I made this for my carbonara-loving mum and dad tonight and it was the first time they'd had it without cream. They both absolutely loved it and said it was the best they'd ever tasted! Thanks Gennaro! Used 60g of parmesan for the record. The more the merrier I think. Will be cooking it again definately.

helsbelsjoe's picture

this is so quick and tasty, will definitely be making again. Used 100g Parmesan and tasted fantastic.

pcharrigan's picture

Really good. And has no cream. 100g of parmesan is fine.


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