Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (2024)

Published: , Last updated: by Emily This post may contain affiliate links.

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How to make the most delicious Spaghetti alla Carbonara. This authentic recipe is made with just 5 simple ingredients; pasta, guanciale, eggs, Pecorino Romano, and black pepper. Our recipe will guide you through the do's and don'ts to make a Carbonara just as they do in Rome. Buon Appetito!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (1)

Carbonara is one of four famous Roman dishes the other three being; Cacio e Pepe, Pasta alla Gricia and Amatriciana.

It's a recipe that's famous worldwide yet a true carbonara can be hard to find outside of Italy and here's why...

  1. The addition of cream - Cream is the main offender. There is absolutely no cream in an authentic carbonara recipe and once you've tasted the real thing you'll know why. It's so rich and creamy as it is, adding cream dilutes the flavour and makes it unnecessarily claggy and heavy.
  2. Using bacon - using bacon instead of guanciale is another reason for a poor tasting carbonara because it doesn't have nearly as much fat and beautiful flavour as guanciale does giving you a sauce that's lacking in flavour.
  3. Other unnecessary additions - an authentic carbonara is made with just pasta, guanciale, eggs, Pecorino Romano, and black pepper, that's it! Some recipes add onions, garlic and herbs which completley changes the flavour.

Now that you know the main things to avoid, let's talk about the ingredients that you actually need, the ingredients are few but should be high quality for an excellent tasting carbonara...

See the recipe below including notes on ingredients, step by step photos, tips, variations and a video tutorial.For the full printable recipe scroll to the bottom or click the recipe link below

Jump to:
  • Ingredients - what you need!
  • Step by step recipe photos and instructions
  • How to stop the eggs from scrambling
  • Top tips for making the best Carbonara
  • More delicious pasta recipes you might like
  • ☆Full Recipe

Ingredients - what you need!

  • Spaghetti - if you don't have spaghetti you can use whatever pasta you have on hand, Rigatoni or Mezze Maniche are good options.
  • Guanciale - Guanciale is cured Italian pork jowl (cheek) whereas more commonly found pancetta, is cured pork belly. It's unbelievably delicious and has a stronger flavour than pancetta. It's also very fatty but that's where all the beautiful flavour is (the fat is crucial). It's sold in whole pieces or slices and you should be able to find it in most Italian speciality food stores just make sure you get a thick enough piece to cut it into ¼ inch (½ cm) thick cubes or strips. You need guanciale to truly experience authentic spaghetti alla carbonara but good quality pancetta can also be used just make sure it has plenty of fat and cut it in the same way as mentioned above.
  • Eggs - some recipes use whole eggs and some use just the yolk which makes it richer. If you want to use yolks only follow the sauce in our Gnocchi Carbonara recipe.
  • Pecorino Romano DOP - made from sheep milk it's tangy, salty and delicious and it's another key ingredient to make the traditional dish. If it's not easy to find though, Parmigiano Reggiano can be used instead (or a mixture of both).
  • Black Pepper - freshly ground tastes best.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (2)

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Step by step recipe photos and instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti, cook until al dente (around 7 minutes) (photo 1).

Meanwhile, add the guanciale to a hot skillet and fry until brown and crispy then turn off the heat (do not drain the fat) (photo 2-4).

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (3)

While the guanciale is frying add the eggs, pecorino and pepper to a bowl, whisk until well combined (photo 5).

Once the pasta is ready, remove it with kitchen tongs to the skillet with the guanciale and toss so it's well combined in the fat (photo 6).

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (4)

Next, add the egg mixture whilst tossing the pasta to ensure the eggs don't scramble. Once the sauce turns glossy and creamy it's ready, add extra pecorino and pepper to serve (photo 7 & 8).

How to stop the eggs from scrambling

Don't be afraid of making carbonara it's not nearly as hard or tricky as you think.

The key is to take the skillet off of the heat about 1-2 minutes before adding the pasta.

You need to make sure the skillet isn't burning hot!

You also need to make sure that when you add the egg mixture to the spaghetti that you are constantly mixing everything together so the eggs don't scramble from the heat of the pasta.

The end result should be creamy and glossy as the eggs cook through the residual heat without scrambling.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (5)

Top tips for making the best Carbonara

  • Trim the guanciale - make sure to trim the thick skin layer off of the guanciale before chopping it up as it's tough and inedible, you'll also see this on blocks of pancetta if using.
  • Make sure your pan isn't too hot - Make sure the skillet or frying pan isn't super hot by turning it off a few minutes before adding the egg mixture. If the skillet is too hot the eggs will scramble!
  • Don't add salt to the sauce - guanciale is cured and tends to be very salty (taste a piece once it's browned) as is Pecorino Romano so you don't often need to add salt to the sauce. Adding salt to pasta water, however, is a must!
  • No Spaghetti? You can use any pasta you have on hand such as rigatoni. We've even made it with gnocchi and it's so delicious.
  • Reserve pasta water! - If you are draining the pasta rather than removing it with tongs (try not to do this) make sure to reserve ¼ cup of pasta water, you may need it to loosen the sauce.
  • Variations - Did you know that Pasta alla Gricia is the base recipe for La Carbonara and it's just as easy and delicious? If you'd rather avoid eggs then our Gricia recipe is for you. For a meat-free version check out our Smoked Salmon Carbonara.

Can I use Parmigiano Reggiano instead of Pecorino Romano?

To make an authentic carbonara, Pecorino Romano must be used because it's from Lazio, it also has a distinctive tangy and salty flavour that. Parmigiano Reggiano is from Emilia-Romagna so is not traditionally used but if that's all you have, it will still give you a delicious dish.

What can I do with leftovers?

Carbonara is best served immediately. It's not the type of pasta that's enjoyable cold and it won't reheat well either. If you do somehow have a lot of leftover pasta then try adding it to a frittata.

Can I freeze it?

No, carbonara will not freeze well and because it only takes 10 minutes to make there's no need to. You can, however, freeze the guanciale so you always have the ingredients on hand to make it.

What are the origins of pasta carbonara?

Carbonara comes from the word Carbone which means charcoal. One theory is that this is a dish was made by Italian coal miners and that the black pepper represents the flecks of coal in the pasta. Another theory is that it was made for American soldiers during World War II that were missing bacon and eggs back home.

More delicious pasta recipes you might like

  • Smoked Salmon Pasta Carbonara (a delicious variation that uses smoked salmon istead of guanciale).
  • Artichoke Pasta – Simple 10 Minute Recipe
  • Penne Pomodoro (Tomato Basil Pasta)
  • Cavatelli and Broccoli Pasta
  • Herby Garlic Butter Pasta Sauce

If you’ve tried this Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW MEonFACEBOOK, INSTAGRAMandPINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

☆Full Recipe

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (6)

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5 from 7 votes

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

A super simple Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe made with guanciale, eggs, and Pecorino Romano. This is a traditional Italian recipe so there's no cream involved yet it's still super creamy, rich and delicious.

Course Main Course

Cuisine Italian

Prep Time 2 minutes minutes

Cook Time 8 minutes minutes

Total Time 10 minutes minutes

Servings 4 servings

Calories 741kcal

Author Emily Wyper

Ingredients

  • 15 oz spaghetti (425g)
  • 3 large eggs free range
  • cup Pecorino Romano (30g)
  • 1 cup guanciale cut into cubes (150g)
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for serving

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti, cook until al dente (around 7-8 minutes, check packet instructions).

  • Meanwhile, add the guanciale to a hot skillet and fry until brown and crispy then turn off the heat (do not drain the fat).

  • While the guanciale is frying add the eggs, pecorino and pepper to a bowl, whisk until well combined.

  • Once the pasta is ready, remove it with kitchen tongs to the skillet with the guanciale and toss so it's well combined in the fat.

  • Next, add the egg mixture whilst tossing the pasta to ensure the eggs don't scramble. Once the sauce turns glossy and creamy it's ready, add extra pecorino and pepper to serve.

Notes

  • Trim the guanciale - make sure to trim the thick skin layer off of the guanciale before chopping it up as it's tough and inedible, you'll also see this on blocks of pancetta if using.
  • Make sure your pan isn't too hot - Make sure the skillet or frying pan isn't super hot by turning it off a few minutes before adding the egg mixture. If the skillet is too hot the eggs will scramble!
  • Don't add salt to the sauce - guanciale is cured and tends to be very salty (taste a piece once it's browned) as is Pecorino Romano so you don't often need to add salt to the sauce. Adding salt to pasta water, however, is a must!
  • No Spaghetti? You can use any pasta you have on hand such as rigatoni.
  • Reserve pasta water! - If you are draining the pasta rather than removing it with tongs (try not to do this) make sure to reserve ¼ cup of pasta water, you may need it to loosen the sauce.
  • Serve immediately and do not freeze!

Nutrition

Calories: 741kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 168mg | Sodium: 495mg | Potassium: 296mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 237IU | Calcium: 134mg | Iron: 2mg

Helpful Info for All Recipes

  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use Cirio or Mutti brands for the best results and flavour.
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated.
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples.
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking.

Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!

More Italian Pasta Recipes

  • Pasta e Patate (Pasta and Potatoes)
  • Pasta e Piselli (Pasta with Peas)
  • Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
  • Italian Lamb Lasagna with Pecorino Bechamel

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Gina

    Can I replace the guanciale with Prosciutto?

    Reply

    • Emily

      You could use pancetta instead of guanciale 🙂

      Reply

  2. Raul

    You might try adding 1/8 cup of the tears of the gods (pasta water) to the eggs and the cheese. Temper the eggs beforehand so they don't turn into scrambled eggs.

    Reply

    • Mellie

      I made your recipe to a tee, doubling it! This was extremely flavorful. I used fried and chopped up bacon because it's what I had but all else the same. I'd give this a million stars if I could. A very economical meal that tastes like true luxury. Will be making again many times in the future! Thank you, thank you for sharing! Hope others give it a whirl because it's easy, quick and packed with flavor! Thank you!Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (11)

      Reply

      • Emily

        Thank you so much for your lovely comment! You can't go wrong with Carbonara, it's always so easy and delicious and I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

  3. Eddy

    Do you ever use fresh pasta, and if so, eggless pasta?

    Reply

    • Emily

      Hi Eddy, I prefer dried pasta for carbonara but a great fresh pasta to use would be Spaghetti alla Chitarra.

      Reply

  4. Tristan

    Tried this and it worked perfectly. Thank you.Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (12)

    Reply

    • Emily

      So happy you enjoyed it 🙂

      Reply

  5. Linda

    I’m so happy I found this receipt. It was so simple but the best carbonara ever. Thank you!!Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (13)

    Reply

  6. Lesa Smith

    This recipe takes me back to my childhood; it's an easy and inexpensive meal to fix and SO easy, yet incredibly delicious!Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (14)

    Reply

  7. Angela

    Just looking at this photo makes me want to make and eat it RIGHT NOW!! I'm going to crave it until I do! Yum! Thank you!Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (15)

    Reply

    • Inside the rustic kitchen

      Thank you! It's the perfect store cupboard meal!

      Reply

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Authentic Recipe!) (2024)

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