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

Ultimate spaghetti carbonara recipe

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(437 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins - 20 mins Cook: 15 mins


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


  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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Joanna Corless's picture
Joanna Corless
6th Mar, 2019
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.
2nd Feb, 2019
Absolutely delicious, I normally have to tweak a few things for recipes but not this one (although I didn't have the correct cheese so I had to use mature cheddar) my husband said he thought it was of restaurant standard, which is a massive compliment because often when doing something a bit different he often nitpicks.
Jo Johnston
16th Nov, 2018
I’ve never heard of pecorino cheese so I just doubled the Parmesan and it was delicious. Will definitely make again.
21st Sep, 2018
Delicious and so easy! Next time I’ll make sure the eggs are at room temperature not straight from the fridge as I think they cooled the pasta down a bit too much. I drained off some of the fat after frying the pancetta.
15th Sep, 2018
I make this recipe all the time - its literally my go to recipe, so quick and easy and Ive generally got all the ingredients in the house :) every member of the family loves it too - bonus !
14th Sep, 2018
Followed this recipe to the letter and it was a hit! Will definitely make again. As the recipe states, always rememeber when adding the cheese/egg mix to take off the heat and this way the sauce becomes lovely and smooth and not like scrambled egg. Thank you BBC Goodfood for another fab dish!
8th Sep, 2018
Followed recipe to letter -unusual for me - kids begging for more - I call that a winner- authentic or not!
clovelly1's picture
5th Sep, 2018
Yummy and so easy! LOVE IT, ❤️
Stacey Jones's picture
Stacey Jones
2nd Aug, 2018
1st Jul, 2018
I couldn't care less of this is an authentic Italian recipe, it tastes amazing, it's quick and easy and the whole family love it!


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