Spaghetti Carbonara

You only need a few simple ingredients to make the best spaghetti carbonara. Plus, it’s ready in less than 30 minutes! When you’re craving pasta, this is a wonderfully comforting recipe to make.

carbonara being twirled onto a fork.

I love a cozy pasta dinner, and one of the easiest is carbonara. It’s an Italian dish that combines spaghetti, eggs, pork, and cheese all tossed together. The magic is in the sauce – eggs are mixed with pecorino romano cheese and tossed with the hot pasta. The heat from the spaghetti cooks the whisked eggs and cheese, turning them into a silky smooth sauce that coats the pasta.

It’s a very simple dish with just five ingredients, but the key to success is speed. Once the pasta is cooked and the eggs are whisked, the whole dish (sauce and all) comes together in just minutes. If you’ve never tried making it, I hope you do! It’s simple but so delicious and comforting.

plates of carbonara.

How to Make It

This is a fast recipe, so I highly recommend reading through the recipe to familiarize yourself with the steps and prepping your ingredients before turning on the stove. I also have some more tips and suggestions for you after the recipe card, so keep scrolling if you want to learn more. I hope you enjoy it!

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Spaghetti Carbonara

carbonara being twirled onto a fork.

Carbonara is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods and is so easy to make. You only need a few ingredients and less than 30 minutes to make it. 

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Boil
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 16 ounces spaghetti (see note)
  • 4 ounces sliced bacon, chopped (see note)
  • 2 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup pecorino romano (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. 
  2. While you wait for the water to boil, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until it’s crispy. Reserve two tablespoons of the bacon fat and set it aside.
  3. Once the pot of water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook it for about 10 minutes or until it’s al dente.
  4. While the pasta boils, whisk the two whole eggs with the extra egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the cheese and pepper.
  5. Once the pasta is ready, reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and then drain the pasta. Transfer the drained pasta back to the pot (turn the heat off). Add the bacon fat and use tongs to toss the pasta so it’s coated evenly. 
  6. Whisk 1/4 cup of the reserved water into the whisked eggs and cheese mixture. This will help temper the egg mixture so it doesn’t scramble when you add it to the hot pasta.
  7. Mix the egg and cheese mixture with the hot pasta. You can do this with tongs by stirring and gently tossing the pasta. The egg mixture will cook while you are mixing it with the pasta.
  8. Add a little of the reserved pasta water to create a creamier sauce if needed. 
  9. Mix in the crispy bacon and serve the carbonara with additional cheese and black pepper over the top.

Notes

You can swap the spaghetti for another long pasta shape like fettuccine, bucatini, or linguine.

Traditional Italian carbonara is made with guanciale, which is a type of Italian cured pork made from pork cheeks. It’s hard to find at US grocery stores, so you can use bacon like I do or try diced pancetta. 

If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, you can use the same amount of Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese. You can learn more about these in the post recipe tips!

Cooking tip: Once the pasta is cooked and drained, work fast to combine it with the rest of the ingredients. The egg mixture will cook and turn into a sauce when you toss it with the pasta. If the pasta cools off, the sauce won’t cook, and you’ll end up with raw eggs and pasta.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 475
  • Sugar: 2.4g
  • Sodium: 361.8mg
  • Fat: 17g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 57.9g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Protein: 20.7g
  • Cholesterol: 212.2mg

Keywords: carbonara, bacon carbonara

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

More easy pastas

Bucatini all’Amatriciana | Pasta Aglio e Olio | Arrabbiata Pasta | Creamy Pesto Pasta | Shrimp Penne Vodka

Recipe Tips

For the best results, prep all your ingredients before cooking! It will go a lot easier if everything is ready when you need it.

Be sure to give the eggs a good whisking. All of the yolks and whites should be well combined.

eggs being whisked in a bowl.

Any long pasta will work great in carbonara because the silky sauce clings to the long strands. Bucatini is one of my favorites, but it’s not always easy to find at the grocery store. I haven’t tried it with short pasta shapes, but penne, rigatoni, or rotini would work because they hold sauces well.

a pot of spaghetti.

Spaghetti Carbonara is best when it’s made, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for a day or so and reheat them. It won’t be creamy, but the flavors will still be delicious.

the finished pasta on a plate with a fork.

Best Kinds of Cheese for Carbonara

Because there are so few ingredients, the type of cheese you use will make a big difference. There are three kinds that will work well in this recipe – it just depends on how traditional you want to be.

  • Carbonara originated in Rome and is traditionally made with a type of Roman cheese called Pecorino Romano. It’s a type of hard cheese made with sheep’s milk.
  • If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, you can use Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is a specific type of cow’s milk cheese produced in only a few regions of Italy (it’s also a protected product under Italian law). It’s aged for at least a year, which gives it a more complex flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese is also a cow’s milk cheese, but typically is not aged as long and does not have the DOC designation like Parmagiana-Reggiano. In the US, the terms Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano are often used interchangeably, so it’s always good to check the label to see where it was made, depending on which one you prefer to use.

Happy cooking,

April

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Recipe, photos, and post updated from the archives. First published in June 2015.

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