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

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe

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(144 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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12th Nov, 2014
Fantastic and foolproof recipe. I wasn't sure about the amount of cheese but it was delicious. This will be my go to Carbonara from now on.
18th Sep, 2014
Served this for dinner tonight and everyone enjoyed it. Really simple and quick to do. I used bacon as that's all I had and fresh pasta. Delicious. This will be a regular in our house.
3rd Sep, 2014
This carbonara is by far the best I've ever tasted let alone cooked. Once I'd made it I couldn't actually believe how good it was! I'm use to making cream sauces and never felt like they were really that nice! No wonder why, carbonara is suppose to be made with eggs not cream! So glad I mastered this sauce and to be honest it took me 15min to make and I had 4 people try it and they all said it was lovely and questioned how I'd made it so quick! My eggs didn't scramble woooohooo! If you follow the recipe its impossible to stuff this up! Will definitely be making this again. I added mushrooms as well and it was brilliant!
26th Aug, 2014
This was fantastic - my husband made it and it actually worked!! Best carbonara ever!
4th Aug, 2014
Amazing flavour for this recipe, although my mixture ended up quite wet and also cold - any tips? I removed panchetta/butter from heat to add eggs/cheese and turned the mixture for about 2-3 minutes until all was covered. But the mixture was now cold. I grilled quickly but didn't want to risk scrambling the eggs.
16th Jul, 2014
amazing so quick and simple, ill never be able to buy a carbonara in a restaurant again when i know i can make it better at home!
30th Jun, 2014
I've made this a few times and it is so, so good - much better than any restaurant I've been to and it's lovely and creamy tasting even though no cream is used. For all of those that have commented that they are left with scrambled eggs, this is most likely because you are not taking the pasta off the heat before adding the egg. The egg should just be cooked from the warmth of the pasta, if you have it still on the hob it's obvious that they will scramble! I done this one in error and it was inedible haha althought I knew the mistake was mine and not the recipes. I highly recommend this recipe, one of my favourites on this site :)
23rd Jun, 2014
Well I am feeling a bit silly right now. 25 yrs ago (late teans/early 20's) my Aunt told me a great "After the nightclub" recipe called Bacon and Egg Spaghetti which I cooked everytime friends came back to the house. Used to whip this up so quickly and all were happy. Mom used to cook Carbonara heavily ladled with cream and was told this was the true Carbonara so I followed her instructions for years. Been looking for a "lighter" version of Mum's recipe and little did I realise that I had been using the true one all along. I stopped cooking Bacon and Egg Spaghetti years ago but will defiantly be going back and showing my daughter how to cook it tonight (with smoked pancetta). Thank you Aunt Gill and BBC good food...... Now have to teach Mom the right way :)
15th May, 2014
Absolutely delicious. As good as the fabulous Carbonara had in Puglia last year. I added a few wild mushrooms with the pancetta for added depth. Super!
2nd May, 2014
I'm a very novice cook, have never tried this before but found this recipe really easy and was very pleased with the result!! :)


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