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

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe

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(157 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins - 20 mins Cook: 15 mins


Serves 4

Discover how to make our best spaghetti carbonara recipe. This cheesy pasta dish is an Italian favourite and, with a little help from Gennaro Contaldo, 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 (De Cecco is very good)
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, 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 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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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
Beans on Toast's picture
Beans on Toast
14th Sep, 2017
Made this with linguine, onions and mushrooms. Think it was the nicest thing I've ever eaten. Four days on and I'm still thinking about it.
spottycups's picture
18th Jul, 2017
Very easy and super tasty! I made two small tweaks (for costs more than anything else) - I used all parmesan rather than part pecorino, and I used smoked cooking bacon in place of pancetta - not so authentic maybe but absolutely fine for a quick family meal! Served up with steamed greens and it was clean plates all round - will make again soon!
10th Jul, 2017
Made this tonight and me and my husband both really enjoyed it! SO happy that the eggs didn't scramble as I was worried about this having never made it before but I kept it off the heat for about 2 mins before mixing. The only thing I noticed was that the egg/cheeese mixture still had obvious bits of cheese in it, it was not completely smooth as it seems to be in the picture, not sure why that happened but still it was a lovely meal and I will be making it again.
5th Jan, 2018
If you use a micro grater then there will be no bits of cheese in the sauce x
4th Jul, 2017
Super easy, super delicious
17th May, 2017
Me & my 10 year old son are learning together trying some of these recipes & this one turned out to be deliciously creamy and exactly how we imagined it to be.
12th May, 2017
Extremely tasty and simple recipe. Don't be tempted to cook out the egg. Just twist it through the pasta for 20-30 seconds for best results. The pasta water is a necessity as well. Very full and happy now.


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.
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.