Ultimate spaghetti carbonara

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara

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(119 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

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  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, questions and tips

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Comments (132)

snoozisuzi's picture

I was so excited to make this.

I prepared everything before starting to cook and followed the recipe exactly, but it turned out bland and wasn't creamy at all.

I'm not impressed, so only 2 stars :(

Mmedinarios's picture

My wife and I live in a little town just north of Rome where they take food very seriously, in particular the Cucina Romana. One thing we've noticed is food is subjective, it's nothing more than nostalgia and availability. Guanciale/Pancetta/bacon/Pecorino/Parmigiano it doesn't matter, just use what best that's available to you.
We wrote a piece about the origins of Crabonara if you don't mind

deedee7's picture

I made this for dinner tonight, it was amazing everything I want in a carbonara but without being drenched in cream, it was rich and tasty. I used all parmesan and it tasted delicious may try with the pecorino and some wild mushrooms next time.

Mickros1's picture

This is not a Carbonara an authentic Carbonara has no place for butter garlic or pecorino being of Italian descent and being bought up with Italian food it appauls me when these kind of recipies are called their proper name i have no problem with people putting different ingredients in foods but please dont call it Carbonara you would you put beef mince in a pie and call it pork pie ? no you wouldnt

SwimmingNathan's picture

So instead of butter Olive Oil and drop the Pecorino with Parmigiono only?

Cosennet's picture

Great classic recipe. Even better when you add white wine to bubble in with the pancetta and a little grated nutmeg to the eggs.

carpecaseus's picture

Really very good. Worked beautifully with leftover smoked pulled pork too. One question though... How does one 'grate' black pepper? ;)

comedinewithdk's picture

It's recipes like this why I love bbcgoodfood so! Gorgeous, creamy, authentic tasting carbonara on the table in 20mins. I've had far worst in restaurants before! I added mushrooms, spring onion and parsley whilst sautéing the bacon. Can't wait to make it again.

justhorses's picture

Delicious, quick and easy! Couldn't ask for more really.

MrsK121's picture

This is so easy to make and the result is absolutely gorgeous. I would be happy to have this is a restaurant!

hcupcake19's picture

Made this for the first time yesterday and it was really good! Usually I find that the egg scrambles but it didn't at all- brilliant recipe!

suepoolman's picture

I thought this recipe was too compliicated, it was awful, I didn't like it at all !

claire8819's picture

I've never made this before and am a pretty novice cook so forgive me if this sounds silly, but it sounds like the egg is pretty much raw (or half raw) when you serve the meal? Wouldn't this make you ill? I'm such a worry wart and have no idea about things like this!

vuvoo's picture

The egg is cooked delicately so that it doesn't taste raw but isn't scrambled - the heat of the freshly boiled spaghetti warms it gently. Carbonara is always made this way, so unfortunately if the level of cooked-ness doesn't sit with you this dish is not the one for you! It is very unlikely to make you ill.

Ama4's picture

Delicious and creamy. Easy recipe to follow. I will make this dish again very soon.

I added an onion to the dish and it turned out to be the best Carbonara I have ever made.

Ama4's picture

Delicious and creamy. Simple and easy recipe. I loved it and will make this dish again.

I added an onion to the recipe and it turned out brilliantly. The best Carbonara I have made.

Ama4's picture

Delicious and creamy. Simple and easy recipe to follow. I added one onion to the recipe and loved the result.

I will try this again.

Peculiah's picture

Wow. This dish is glorious. I made it exactly as written and served it with a salad of Roquette with a little balsamic and olive oil. So good, definitely a recipe to make over and over. P.s. Goes down a treat with a nice mineral-y Sauvignon blanc

kayclemwistow's picture

Simply gorgeous, made it several times now!

mr_thomas's picture

Went down a treat with the Wife and Kids! Used 100g of Parmesan as couldn't find pecorino cheese. Did find it went cold quite quickly, I think this is because the eggs came straight from the fridge. Would definitely make again, quick, simple and tasty!


Questions (2)

Sammielawson's picture

How many does this recipe serve?

mindymoo62's picture

It serves 4 . It is very filling so be carefully not to add too much more than stated on the recipe. Enjoy

Tips (6)

dilbert77's picture

Well, it's not very italian, but I really like to squeeze some fresh lime juice over the dish just before serving. The lime goes very well with the pancetta.

lecampbl's picture

This the best carbonara I have ever had and so easy to make, I add chestnut mushrooms to it too

tillyfloss80's picture

I've found that after taking the pasta & pancetta off the heat, giving it a minute or two to cool slightly before adding the egg mixture seems to stop the eggs scrambling.

Lindane's picture

Do you use the yolks of the eggs too

tillyfloss80's picture

Yes, use 3 full eggs.

KaiShun's picture

Its better if you replace the eggwhites with full cream and use only the yolks, then mix all with the cheese(prefer pecorino romano) add 1tbs Plochman's Mild Yellow mustard or other yellow mustard in the mix with loads of freshly ground black pepper. When the mix is ready just continue like the recipe does.

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