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

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe

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(316 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins - 20 mins Cook: 15 mins

Easy

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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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
  • 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • sea salt and freshly grated black pepper

Method

  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.

  2. Finely chop the 100g pancetta, having first removed any rind. Finely grate 50g pecorino cheese and 50g parmesan and mix them together.

  3. Beat the 3 large eggs in a medium bowl and season with a little freshly grated black pepper. Set everything aside.

  4. Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add 350g 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).

  5. Squash 2 peeled plump garlic cloves with the blade of a knife, just to bruise it.

  6. While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the pancetta with the garlic. Drop 50g unsalted butter into a large frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the pancetta and garlic.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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Melody Claire's picture
Melody Claire
9th Nov, 2019
5.05
So delicious and so easy! I substituted both cheeses for plain old mature cheddar and it still worked a treat! With the cheese substitution this is only 5 ingredients not including the butter for frying! But so much flavour.
Insecure Chef's picture
Insecure Chef
7th Oct, 2019
5.05
Excellent and easy spaghetti carbonara. I'm Italian and I think it is a fine American/British version of the dish. Everyone I've served it to (I have made it several times) absolutely loves it (Italians and others). I converted the metric amounts to U.S. sizes (ask me details if you need help). Don't be afraid to add hot pasta water to thin the sauce out a bit (not too much). Very important to keep temperature low during the egg/cheese addition.I feel it is just a great, simple dish of a classic recipe. TRY IT!
Boyt McCue's picture
Boyt McCue
25th Sep, 2019
Good recipe. Hey, Italians, nobody here cares if this isn't a standard Italian carbonara. This is a British site, we just want imitation Italian food that tastes good made from ingredients we can find in the supermarket. I honestly thought the 'Italian getting angry about slight alterations to recipes' thing was a stereotype, but apparently you guys are that petty haha!
hnb1
18th Jul, 2019
5.05
This recipe is great and I've made it a few times. One thing I've struggled with is incorporating the pancetta properly so that it doesn't all go to the bottom. Any advice? Also I'm so scared of accidentally scrambling the eggs that I let the pan off the heat for several minutes. But by the time I mix in the eggs the food gets pretty cold. What's the least amount of time that you can have the pan off the heat and definitely not scramble the eggs?
Clio Aspinade's picture
Clio Aspinade
5th Apr, 2019
4.05
Wonderful, easy recipe. Just make sure you do not scramble those eggs. As an ameteur cook, I am very annoyed when Italians troll the internet looking for recipes to criticise. You can get different versions of this throughout Italy, there is no correct version.
Alessandra Cesari Gleeson's picture
Alessandra Cesa...
2nd Apr, 2019
As a Roman, I am very much annoyed that BBC good food gets this recipe wrong. Carbonara is just Guanciale (not pancetta!) Eggs and Pecorino. No garlic, no onions no cream....
NotDanDan
3rd Aug, 2019
Guanciale is not really a thing in most parts of the UK. We have to make do with what is available. Pecorino is also much less common than parmesan. I do agree that cream is a no-no, but I'm not seeing any cream in this recipe soooo...
Tenorman1971
4th May, 2019
I was first taught this recipe when I was at university by a student from Rome. She was an excellent cook, and she included garlic.
Chere
19th Mar, 2019
5.05
I made this today and it totally is worth a 5* rating!! Have saved this recipe as it’ll be a regular meal for my family.
Joanna Corless's picture
Joanna Corless
6th Mar, 2019
4.05
When I made this the first time the egg scrambled, even though I did take it off the heat - the pan was still too hot. I saw in Jamie Oliver video a tip to add a bit of pasta water and make sure the pan was no longer sizzling before adding the egg, then toss or stir constantly to prevent it being in too much contact with the pan. When I did this, it came out as sauce instead of scrambled - although it was possibly a bit more runny than intended, so perhaps a little less pasta water would have been ideal.

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BananaSplit Xxx's picture
BananaSplit Xxx
9th Jul, 2019
Are the eggs still raw when you serve the dish?
goodfoodteam's picture
goodfoodteam
14th Jul, 2019
Thanks for your question. The eggs in this recipe are only lightly cooked. If you are concerned about whether the eggs are safe to eat - eggs produced under the British Lion code of Practice (bearing the British lion quality mark on the shell) can be safely eaten raw or lightly cooked by children, pregnant women and the elderly. You can find more information here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/eggs-nutrition/ https://www.egginfo.co.uk/british-lion-code-practice However, if the eggs are NOT British Lion stamped then precautions should be taken to cook well and anyone who is immune compromised should cook all eggs thoroughly. We hope this helps.
theSpaghettiMonster
5th Aug, 2017
Are we still allowed to make this post Brexit?
Sammielawson
8th Aug, 2013
How many does this recipe serve?
mindymoo62
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
dilbert77
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.
leajcampbell@btinternet.com's picture
leajcampbell@bt...
11th Oct, 2014
5.05
This the best carbonara I have ever had and so easy to make, I add chestnut mushrooms to it too
tillyfloss80's picture
tillyfloss80
3rd Sep, 2014
5.05
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.
Lindane
3rd Aug, 2014
Do you use the yolks of the eggs too
tillyfloss80's picture
tillyfloss80
3rd Sep, 2014
5.05
Yes, use 3 full eggs.
KaiShun
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.
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