Ultimate spaghetti carbonara

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara

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(127 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 (136)

cmidmore's picture

Ive tried for ages to do this like my favourite restaurant does it. Cutting out the cream is at least part of the answer, so this is progress! It was nice and moist and went down well with 3 men aged 13 and up. I used 100g parmesan and it was fine.

wikster's picture

Bang on! Carbonara as it should be, simple, wholesome, delicious and filling. And no cream!

paullindsell76's picture

I didn't use pecorino but just doubled the Parmesan. Perfect results and such a simple and delicious mid week dish.

carollesley's picture

Really lovely Carbonara, followed recipe exactly. it was creamy enough, so definitely doesn't need any cream added!

dtcartner's picture

Perfect authentic recipe, best ever tasted.

gwenno71's picture

So easy and delicious. Have made it several times. Adapted it by using bacon lardons and replacing the pecorino with more Parmesan. Yum.

vsmphipps's picture

easy and tastes so good.

jnduggan's picture

AMAZING! And so quick too...always have eggs in and pasta and I used bacon. Also added some lazy garlic and an onion, would be nice with a few peas too to up the veg content! My fussy hubby and 22 month old loved it too. A firm favourite from now on!

lulu295's picture

Best carbonara ever!

auraobie's picture

Great recipe, very easy to make and very tasty. But extremely rich and cheesy, you don't need a large portion to feel extremely satisfied.

rkc1591's picture

Easy enough to make, using minimal ingredients. I'm not a fan of creamy sauces like this, but it turned out nicely.

jessmhand's picture

This is by far the best carbonara I have ever tried! I remember trying to make carbonara back at uni and ending up with a scrambled mess. This is far from that! I did add about a tablespoon of cream to the eggs, but that's because I like a bit of richness. I think this is a fail safe recipe!

robsticles's picture

Oh yes! Classic recipe, very easy and very tasty. We actually crushed the garlic and left it in just because we love garlic :)

chloehirst12345's picture

love this dish! used if for my food gcse exam and have cooked it quite a few times since. really easy too cook and loved by everyone! x

freefallsam's picture

I have tried a few different carbonara recipes and always been disappointed but this is called the ultimate carbonara and this is exactly what it is. it is the nicest i have tasted. excellent recipe thank you

enigma74's picture

This dish is so easy to prepare. I took the advice of other members and let the pasta slightly cool before adding the eggs therefore, no disasters! I added extra garlic though with some parsley. The next time I make this, I wont add as much butter. Give it a try!

ljmorgan24's picture

Love this dish, made it a couple of times and its just so tasty. We are ultimate garlic lovers so we don't take the cloves out, I chop them up as they are cooking and leave them in the pan instead.

rachmo's picture

Excellent recipe!! I used thick cut bacon as I had no pancetta (cut all the fat off) and garlic purée as I had no fresh (needed to do a food shop!) and it turned out brilliantly! I am no accomplished cook so I was surprised. I let the pasta and bacon cool slightly before adding the egg mixture, I think that avoids the scrambled scenario


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