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

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe

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(150 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins - 20 mins Cook: 15 mins

Easy

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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Ingredients

  • 100g pancetta
    Pancetta

    Pancetta

    pan-chet-ah

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

  • 50g pecorino cheese
  • 50g parmesan
    Parmesan

    Parmesan

    parm-ee-zan

    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

Method

  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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foodie1971
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!
Sticks221
2nd May, 2014
5.05
I'm a very novice cook, have never tried this before but found this recipe really easy and was very pleased with the result!! :)
jennylevitt
23rd Apr, 2014
0.05
sounded like very easy recipe, but ended up way too salty and the eggs scrambled, making it pretty disgusting. won't be using this recipe again, very disappointed.
cottier_b
14th May, 2014
Sounds like you had the heat too high jenny when you stirred the eggs in. If you found it too salty use more parmesan than pecorino or just use parmesan.
siblywib
18th Apr, 2014
5.05
I'm never ordering carbonara in a restaurant again! This was much better - I added a bit of cream in with the cheese/egg mixture to make it a richer sauce, which was very nice indeed.
fruitcake44
11th Apr, 2014
3.8
Was looking for a recipe to use up the rest of a smoked ham joint I had and this worked a treat. Chopped my ham into tiny cubes and only used parmesan as this is all I had, I also crushed my garlic as I wanted to keep it in and also added some mushrooms. As a family we tend to like quite a lot of sauce with our pasta meals so I was worried this might be a bit dry for us but I needn't have worried as the spaghetti was coated in a beautiful rich and creamy tasting sauce. Whole family loved it.
Yuliya.s
10th Mar, 2014
5.05
loved this, near enough what I expect when ordering in a restaurant and so easy! Definitely a new mid-week regular :)
laini
5th Mar, 2014
5.05
Highly recommended, simple and delicious. Just for personal taste though, we leave the garlic in.
LewNew92
13th Feb, 2014
Trying this out tomorrow for the missus!
deblah
28th Jan, 2014
so easy to cook, and all the family loved it, have made it twice in two weeks! ;-)

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