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Spaghetti Carbonara

carbonara being twirled onto a fork.

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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. 

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

Keywords: carbonara, bacon carbonara