Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Donna Graffagnino


This is a slightly kicked up version of traditional Spaghetti Carbonara or Spaghetti with Bacon and creamy custard sauce. It's so simple yet so delicious - those Italians really knew what they were doing!
Spaghetti alla Carbonara's creamy sauce is simply a thin egg and cheese custard, spiked with pork and black pepper. Try to find pancetta or guanciale (pork cheek cured like pancetta) for a really authentic taste!


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15 Min
25 Min
Stove Top


  • 1 lb
    thin spaghetti, not angelhair
  • 6 oz
    pancetta or thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp
    ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2
    onion, minced (not traditional in this dish but very good)
  • 2 large
    cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 Tbsp
    olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp
    butter (if using pancetta)
  • 1 c
    reserved pasta water or chicken stock
  • ·
    splash of sherry (optional - again not traditional but delicious)
  • 4 large
  • 1/3 c
    grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 tsp
    ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/3 c
    finely grated mozzarella or parmigiano-reggiano
  • ·
    freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

How to Make Spaghetti alla Carbonara


  1. In a small skillet oven over medium-low heat cook olive oil and smashed garlic, stirring frequently for about 5-10 minutes or until the garlic begins to turn golden. Remove garlic and discard. (I usually make garlic infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil by the gallon so I always have it on hand.)
  2. Bring a large pot of LIGHTLY salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water then drain the rest and toss spaghetti 1 tsp of the garlic infused olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter.
  4. In a Dutch oven over medium-low heat cook pancetta with remaining olive oil, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, and minced onion. If using bacon then leave out the olive oil. Cook until pancetta or bacon is crisp and set heat to lowest setting.
  5. In a warmed mixing bowl whisk eggs and 3 Tbsp of the
    Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. Set aside.
  6. Pour reserved pasta water or stock, sherry, and drained spaghetti into the Dutch oven with the bacon-pepper mixture and stir to combine.
  7. Slowly pour egg mixture into the pasta mixture; stirring constantly until the egg mixture forms a thick sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes and everything is heated through. Remove from heat.
  8. Serve in pasta bowl with remaining cheese and fresh parsley sprinkled over the top.
  9. *Options:
    Use as much or little Parmigiano Reggiano and Romano cheese as you like, or top dish with finely shredded Mozzarella or Colby Jack for a different flavor profile.

    Add diced chicken to dish and cook with the bacon or if using pre-cooked chicken, add to bacon just before it's done and heat through.

Printable Recipe Card

About Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Course/Dish: Pasta, Pork
Main Ingredient: Pasta
Regional Style: Italian
Dietary Needs: Soy Free

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