Learn to make spaghetti carbonara

Learn to make spaghetti carbonara

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(36 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 eggs



    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, questions and tips

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28th Oct, 2017
Rubbish recipe. As a beginner I needed more information. I followed it exactly and the cream split. Had to throw it all away. A waste of food and time.
David C's picture
David C
30th Dec, 2017
The cream should not split, however the eggs may slightly scramble if the heat is not right which is what I expect is what happened here.
20th Oct, 2017
Appalling - nothing like a carbonara, Italians do not use garlic or cream in this dish - you should be ashamed of yourselves - are you Americans in disguise?
24th Feb, 2018
Umm - not sure what you are thinking here? Are you saying we Americans can't make good Carbonara? Have you been to the States?
David C's picture
David C
30th Dec, 2017
It is easier to call it carbonara because it is very similar, just made for British tastes.
6th Apr, 2017
As italian i have to say absolutely NO garlic and NO cream at all !!! Just: - spaghetti - cheek lard - eggs - pepper - pecorino
jadedermody's picture
9th Dec, 2016
A simple recipe that was easy to adapt. I added mushroom and peas
29th Jul, 2016
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.
3rd Mar, 2016
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 http://viamedina.kitchen/blog/2015/6/19/a-concise-history-of-carbonara
6th Jan, 2016
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.


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