Spaghetti carbonara, a pasta and sauce rich with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and pancetta or bacon, is a quick and easy dinner that takes just 25 minutes from stove to table. Click to read about the questionable origins of spaghetti carbonara.
This knock-it-out-of-the park spaghetti alla carbonara recipe calls for extra egg yolk, which lends an extra silken richness and lusciousness to the dish. If you want a traditional version, use 4 whole eggs. I’ve also seen Italian cooks use an extra large egg yolk per person, which is super luxurious. Whatever you do, please forgo cream, peas, garlic, etc. They are wonderful, they’re just not part of the classic recipe.
Also, a lot of readers have asked whether they can use freshly made pasta. You can, but I find that using a premium dried pasta made from durum or semolina wheat really helps the sauce to cling. Originally published April 14, 2004.–David Leite
Raw Egg Reminder
A gentle reminder that this spaghetti alla carbonara recipe contains raw egg. Please be aware of this if you’re making the recipe for anyone for whom that’s a potential food safety no-no, including the very young, the very old, the very pregnant, and the very compromised in terms of immunity. All the rest of you, go ahead and sit down to this outrageously easy and traditional Italian carbonara recipe with gusto.
Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 25 M
- Serves 4
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces thickly sliced guanciale, pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, well beaten
- 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, combined with 1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Grab your largest skillet and place it over medium heat. Pour the olive oil into the skillet and wait until the oil ripples. Toss in the guanciale (or pancetta or bacon, if using) and cook, stirring often, until crisp. Slide the skillet off the heat.
- 2. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Toss in the salt and the spaghetti and boil, stirring to keep the strands from sticking to one another, until al dente. Carefully scoop out 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve it. Then drain the spaghetti in a colander, shaking it to release any excess liquid.
- 3. Working quickly, dump the hot drained spaghetti into the skillet with the pancetta. Dribble a bit of the reserved cooking water into the beaten eggs and whisk quickly. This prevents the eggs from cooking.
- 4. Immediately add the eggs and half the cheese to the skillet of spaghetti and toss well. Add just enough of the reserved pasta water to make the mixture lusciously creamy. (You’ll want to add the pasta water incrementally, tossing all the while you’re dribbling in the water, as everything magically coalesces into a velvety sauce that cloaks each strand.) Sprinkle generously with pepper and serve at once. Pass the remaining cheese at the table.