Learn to make spaghetti carbonara

Learn to make spaghetti carbonara

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(28 ratings)

Cook: 20 mins


Serves 4
Master this hearty pasta dish and you’ll never be stuck for a quick supper

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal734
  • fat36g
  • saturates15g
  • carbs75g
  • sugars4g
  • fibre3g
  • protein33g
  • salt2.95g
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  • 400g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 200g smoked pancetta cubes or streaky bacon, chopped



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

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed



    Part of the lily, or alium, family, of which onions are also a member, garlic is one of the most…

  • 3 egg



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with protein and a…

  • 75ml double cream
  • 50g Grana padano or Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve



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


  1. Cook the spaghetti. Bring a large, deep pan of salted water to the boil. Plunge spaghetti into the water, stir well and cook, following pack instructions. Aim for 'al dente': cooked, but retaining some bite in the middle. Take a few strands out of the water with a spaghetti spoon or tongs 1-2 mins before the end of the cooking time and bite into it. Repeat until you think it is properly cooked.

  2. Fry the pancetta. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, tip in the pancetta or streaky bacon. Fry over a medium heat until the fat in the meat has melted down into the pan and the meat has turned lightly golden. Be careful not to crisp the pancetta too much; it will be cooked a little bit more later on in the recipe. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  3. Prepare the sauce. Crack 2 of the eggs into a mixing bowl. Separate the yolk from the third egg: gently crack the side of the shell and, using both hands, slowly open it into two halves over a separate bowl - you want to keep the yolk in one of the halves. Tip the yolk from one shell half to the other and repeat until all the egg white has fallen into the bowl below, taking care not to crack the yolk on any rough shell edges. Tip the yolk in with the other eggs and beat together, along with the cream, the cheese and some seasoning.

  4. Combine the dish. Add garlic to the pancetta and return frying pan to hob. Fry over high heat for 1 min or until garlic is cooked and pancetta warmed through. Meanwhile, drain spaghetti. Tip back into the hot saucepan off the heat. Pour egg mixture over pasta, followed by hot pancetta, garlic, any fat and oils. Toss quickly and thoroughly with spaghetti spoon or tongs. Mix until it has thickened to a smooth, creamy sauce. Serve with extra cheese and freshly ground pepper.

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Comments (40)

JasonChloe28's picture

This was an excellent recipe, cooked for 2 days now, second for family so I doubled the recipe, went down well with everybody, will make this a regular dish! Will experiment with the recipe a bit for a cheaper and healthier version.

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

JeffDeCuisine's picture

This recipe is not carbonara. (Cape Carbonara, where this dish comes from is in Sardinia so the ingredients are, not surprisingly, Sardinian). The real recipe uses egg yolks (no whites at all) , Guancale (similar to pancetta but made from the cheek) and mature Sardinian pecorino. No garlic. No cream. Using pancetta instead does not make a huge difference but Parmesan for Pecorino is a no-no.
There is nothing wrong with this recipe apart from the name (and rather too much egg for me). It tastes perfectly nice. If you want the creamy version I recommend adding some mushrooms and using just a single egg yolk. A drizzle of truffle oil works wonders too.
Lots of people seem to prefer creamy bacon pasta - but that does not make it carbonara.
Just like runny tomato sauce with some beef mince is not Bolognese. But that's another story.

Yummymummyinmytummy's picture

Mmmmmm Never made this before, absolutely gorgeous and passed the test with the family. Lovely with freshly baked rolls...very filling. I was in an extra hurry so cheated and used freshly flaked parmesan from morrisons and pre chopped pancetta. Also added chicken and garlic slices from the deli counter... Now will be a regular dish.
Nobody has mentioned what happened to the third egg white though.... maybe i misread the recipe but sure it said 2 eggs plus one egg yolk....so threw the other egg white away. Seemed to work...although bit odd as didn't mention using or losing the last egg white.

Kmicklewright's picture

I really liked this carbonara, it goes further and is liked more by children when you use some cream like this. I had no double cream once so used single... This was fine, but needed to use a little less than the amount of double needed in the recipe.

heather444's picture

Didn't like this recipe at all. Found the parmesan way too overpowering. Perhaps would be better if I adjusted some of the quantities next time.

abcdefghijord's picture

Make this on a regular occasion now but always use 2 eggs+1 yolk, 100g lighter creme fraiche, 75g parmesan. If anyone finds theirs scrambles, make sure the pan with the bacon has been off the heat for 1 min then tip pancetta into the bowl with the sauce, mix around, add spaghetti back to pancetta pan (all off the heat now) and add sauce to the spaghetti and mix until thick and creamy. Made it a few times previous to this and mine scrambled (because it was too hot) never scrambled using this method. Love it :) 5*

Shazzama's picture

I love this...and it's much better that the Ultimate Spaghetti Carbonara in my humble opinion!

le10234's picture

This is not an authentic carbonara! The real thing doesn't include cream. There should also be twice the amount of cheese consiting of pecorino and parmesan, not gran padano. All this means less calories for those who keep count.

abcdefghijord's picture

Made this last night after having a great smoked salmon carbonara in Paris. I substituted the pancetta/bacon with the salmon but added that at the last minute and used tagliatelle instead of spaghetti. Also didn't like the idea of using cream, so used half fat crème fraîche and didn't notice a difference; we absolutely loved it. I was a little confused about the egg steps since I already knew how to separate the yolk from the white but figured out the sauce needs 2 whole eggs with an extra yolk in the end. It turned out great and will most definitely be making this again, my partner was absolutely in love with the taste. Will use the "My Fitness Pal" to track the correct amount of calories with the substituted ingredients; hopefully the crème fraîche and lack of pancetta/bacon reduced it somewhat but you have to indulge sometimes otherwise life would be completely boring! :)

jax7's picture

My daughter made this for supper yesterday - delicious! As good as any I've ever had in a restaurant. Bit more sauce than the pasta needed - perhaps increase the spaghetti quantity slightly.

lilmiss18's picture

This Recipe is amazing! So quick and easy and definitely a family Favourite!
I used Pancetta for a more smokier and meatier taste. It was Amazing.

katiehphoto's picture

A super recipe! It's a shame the calorie intake is a whopping 734 per portion!

lilmiss18's picture

yea, amazing!
Cook this all the time as a quick and easy Dinner and I'm only 13! :)

whats4t's picture

a quick and easy way of separating eggs is to crack egg onto a saucer or small plate hold an eggcup over the yolk and let the white slide into another container or add to the other ingredients.

whats4t's picture

a quick and easy way of separating eggs is to crack egg onto a saucer or small plate hold an eggcup over the yolk and let the white slide into another container or add to the other ingredients.

wikster's picture

I too know that "proper carbonara" doesn't contain cream, this is a really nice variant. We're a household of garlic lovers, so an extra clove was added -- yum! :D

dirtydancing's picture

Cooked it tonight. It was an easy follow recipe and very tasty. I added chicken that I lightly fried and seasoned. Will be having again very soon.

roberama's picture

This is a great recipe and very easy to make, perfect for a snack for one as i'm usually only cooking for myself, just halved the ingredients as i tend to eat enough for two anyway!

lynnebird's picture

Fantastic recipe.
We don't like garlic in anything, but not including it did not spoil the delicious taste. I have tried tagliatelli pasta instead of spaghetti which, in fact, I prefer.
Very quick and easy to make.


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