Close up of perfect spaghetti carbonara on a plate ready to eat

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe

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(177 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins - 20 mins Cook: 15 mins


Serves 4

Discover how to make superb spaghetti carbonara. This cheesy pasta dish is an Italian favourite and with the right technique, you can make it perfect every time

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 eggs
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • sea 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 and season with a little freshly grated black pepper. 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 frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the pancetta and garlic. Leave 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. Don’t worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don’t throw 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. 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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1st Jul, 2018
I couldn't care less of this is an authentic Italian recipe, it tastes amazing, it's quick and easy and the whole family love it!
Carlo Tafuri's picture
Carlo Tafuri
15th Jun, 2018
Alessio Buzzanca's picture
Alessio Buzzanca
30th Mar, 2018
Terrifying. Nothing in this recipe is correct. Don’t add salt after you put pasta in the water, but BEFORE! Salt lowers temperature! No garlic in Carbonara!!! It’s a blasphemy!!! No pancetta in Carbonara, but guanciale: is less aggressive. No butter in Carbonara, but EVO oil: butter boils at lower temperature than oil. Butter makes guanciale fluffy. You need crisp! And finally, don’t add water when you mix pasta and egg unless if you want broth instead of sauce. Last thing: parmesan does not exist. The name is Parmigiano and has no translation. Parmesan it’s a fake low price disgusting unhealthy imitation. Have a good day.
2nd May, 2018
Would it upset you if I told you I put peas in mine?!
ballgood's picture
11th Mar, 2018
Delicious, I made it with salmon rather than meat. I particularly like that both the white and yolk of the egg is used. Otherwise, I am left with egg whites.
Alessio Buzzanca's picture
Alessio Buzzanca
30th Mar, 2018
The real Italian recipe needs the whole egg. We say one per person and one for the pan. So if you are four, you need 5 eggs. Try to add cutted jumbo shrimp at your fish Carbonara. It adds crunchiness!
Marc Gregory's picture
Marc Gregory
1st Mar, 2018
I've just made this properly for the first time, closely following one of Gennaro's YT videos. He uses guanciale as they do in Rome, no butter or any extra fat in the pan, no garlic, egg yolks (no whites) and just pecorino cheese (no parmesan), salt and black pepper. It turned out ok but tastes very different, with a much stronger pork flavour, from the usual version made in Britain with pancetta and cream. Gennaro has made at least one more video slightly varying this method, but the basic recipe was confirmed by the TV programme Rome Unpacked, in which chef Giorgio Locatelli took art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon into a back street kitchen to witness the authentic spaghetti alla carbonara ricetta originale di Roma.
31st Jan, 2018
Ok - not bad except the that in Italy we use Guanciale and do not use butter and especially not Bertolli ( Unilever) - Bertolli sponsors his you Tube videos. Replace the soap-powder with olive oil, and make sure that the Guanciale goes a bit crispy. If you cant find Guanciale then pancetta is OK - bacon is too thin and only good for students on a budget.
Graham Wellard's picture
Graham Wellard
2nd Jan, 2018
Fantastic recipe. Makes a perfect fullflavoured carbonara.
Dot Cotton
23rd Nov, 2017
Made for a last minute supper for the kids. Used rashers & only had parmesan cheese. Was gorgeous & super fast. Will definatly become a regular in our house


5th Aug, 2017
Are we still allowed to make this post Brexit?
8th Aug, 2013
How many does this recipe serve?
30th Oct, 2013
It serves 4 . It is very filling so be carefully not to add too much more than stated on the recipe. Enjoy
27th Apr, 2015
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.'s picture
11th Oct, 2014
This the best carbonara I have ever had and so easy to make, I add chestnut mushrooms to it too
3rd Sep, 2014
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.
3rd Aug, 2014
Do you use the yolks of the eggs too
3rd Sep, 2014
Yes, use 3 full eggs.
4th Feb, 2014
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.