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

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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Carlo Tafuri's picture
Carlo Tafuri
15th Jun, 2018
Blasphemy!
Alessio Buzzanca's picture
Alessio Buzzanca
30th Mar, 2018
1.05
Terrifying. Nothing in this recipe is correct. Don’t add salt after you put pasta in the water, but BEFORE! Salt lowers temperature! No garlic in Carbonara!!! It’s a blasphemy!!! No pancetta in Carbonara, but guanciale: is less aggressive. No butter in Carbonara, but EVO oil: butter boils at lower temperature than oil. Butter makes guanciale fluffy. You need crisp! And finally, don’t add water when you mix pasta and egg unless if you want broth instead of sauce. Last thing: parmesan does not exist. The name is Parmigiano and has no translation. Parmesan it’s a fake low price disgusting unhealthy imitation. Have a good day.
Boyt McCue's picture
Boyt McCue
25th Sep, 2019
Yeah I don't want to go to some specialist place just to pick up 'mild pancetta' when I could use pancetta which is readily available from a supermarket. The butter vs oil thing sounds like the most petty complaint I've ever heard, how 'fluffy' can chunks of fried cured meat get? The pasta water thing sounds optional, so who cares about that anyway? Last thing: most British people know it as parmesan not parmigiano, hence why in a *british* version it's listed as parmesan, because that's what people call it here. When I buy a pack of parmigiano that is literally labelled as parmigiano, I would still refer to it as parmesan (and I hope that irritates you). Have a good day.
Pablo512's picture
Pablo512
8th Dec, 2018
Hahaha. Next you'll be telling us you don't put baked beans in Bolognese. If it makes you feel better, I used smoked back bacon and cheddar! Delicioso!
Crscrs
20th Aug, 2018
Salt does not lower the temperature of water..The water molecules need more energy to produce enough pressure to escape the boundary of the liquid. The more salt (or any solute) added to water, the more you raise the boiling point.
lodikay
2nd May, 2018
Would it upset you if I told you I put peas in mine?!
ballgood's picture
ballgood
11th Mar, 2018
5.05
Delicious, I made it with salmon rather than meat. I particularly like that both the white and yolk of the egg is used. Otherwise, I am left with egg whites.
Alessio Buzzanca's picture
Alessio Buzzanca
30th Mar, 2018
1.05
The real Italian recipe needs the whole egg. We say one per person and one for the pan. So if you are four, you need 5 eggs. Try to add cutted jumbo shrimp at your fish Carbonara. It adds crunchiness!
Marc Gregory's picture
Marc Gregory
1st Mar, 2018
I've just made this properly for the first time, closely following one of Gennaro's YT videos. He uses guanciale as they do in Rome, no butter or any extra fat in the pan, no garlic, egg yolks (no whites) and just pecorino cheese (no parmesan), salt and black pepper. It turned out ok but tastes very different, with a much stronger pork flavour, from the usual version made in Britain with pancetta and cream. Gennaro has made at least one more video slightly varying this method, but the basic recipe was confirmed by the TV programme Rome Unpacked, in which chef Giorgio Locatelli took art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon into a back street kitchen to witness the authentic spaghetti alla carbonara ricetta originale di Roma.
Amarts
31st Jan, 2018
Ok - not bad except the that in Italy we use Guanciale and do not use butter and especially not Bertolli ( Unilever) - Bertolli sponsors his you Tube videos. Replace the soap-powder with olive oil, and make sure that the Guanciale goes a bit crispy. If you cant find Guanciale then pancetta is OK - bacon is too thin and only good for students on a budget.

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