Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe – Authentic Italian

The LEGENDARY authentic Spaghetti Carbonara recipe! Keep reading to learn how to make Spaghetti Carbonara the RIGHT way— no onions, no peas, no heavy cream. You’ll learn how to make Spaghetti Carbonara as they do in the best Italian restaurants in Rome, Italy.

Prefer a Spaghetti Carbonara with Cream and Bacon? You are looking for the WWII Spaghetti Carbonara recipe! This ‘American-style’ Carbonara is in fact one of the origin stories for Carbonara, and we have re-created the recipe for you using the memoirs of the Italian Chef who said he invented it!

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe with Authentic Italian Ingredients

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In Italian? Spaghetti Carbonara Ricetta

About Spaghetti Carbonara

This Pasta Carbonara recipe (called “Pasta alla Carbonara” or Spaghetti alla Carbonara in Italy) is made using traditional ingredients in the most Italian way. An easy dish with just a few simple ingredients, it’s the perfect stick-to-your-ribs lunch or dinner.

How do I avoid clumpy sauce?

Though simple to make, many beginners end up with cheese sauce that contains unappetizing clumps. Since pecorino cheese coagulates at 140° F (60° C), adding water hotter than this to the cheese and egg mix will usually produce a stringy, gummy sauce.

In this recipe, we avoid this error by slowly adding a ladle of the hot pasta water to the egg mix, whisking continuously. Then, we combine the egg mix with the pasta off the heat.

Slowly add a tiny bit of hot pasta water off the heat to avoid a clumpy egg sauce!
Lovely, shiny sauce ready to add to the pasta (off the heat)

Can I use pre-grated cheese/ pre-ground pepper?

Sure! However, we assure you that the best flavor is always achieved by freshly grating or grinding your ingredients.

Be sure to buy or grind the pecorino cheese to a very fine powder consistency. This will help you to create a smooth carbonara sauce without lumps.

Adding very fine powdery pecorino cheese to the whisked eggs for the carbonara sauce!

Are the eggs safe to eat?

Eggs that aren’t thoroughly cooked do carry the risk of foodborne illness like salmonella.

The FDA recommends heating eggs to a temperature of 160° F in order to be safe from foodborne illness. This is tough to do in a carbonara sauce manually without cooking the eggs—and ending up with clumpy sauce. However, if you use a sous vide or another machine that can continuously whisk the eggs while maintaining a specific temperature, it can be done. We’ll address this technique in another post.

How to Make Spaghetti Carbonara: Tips

Use quality ingredients. Grate and grind fresh.

Use quality aged Pecorino Romano and freshly ground black pepper.  With just two ingredients in this sauce, make sure those ingredients are bringing maximum flavor!

Use a food processor to grate the cheese!

Save time by using a food processor to finely grate the cheese.

Guanciale or Pancetta?

Guanciale is more traditional in this dish. Use pancetta if you can’t find guanciale.

WWII Spaghetti Carbonara with Cream and Bacon?

If the Carbonara recipes that you love have American bacon and cream, you are probably looking for something like the WWII Spaghetti Carbonara recipe! Believe it or not, this recipe is consistent with one of the original stories of Spaghetti Carbonara, though it is not—NOT NOT— the Carbonara recipe considered traditional by Italians in Italy today. Italians do recognize this origin story however.

Discover More Cheesy Italian Food Recipes

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Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

The quintessential dish of Rome. Although Spaghetti Carbonara is one of the most imitated recipes in the world with a multitude of variations, the original recipe calls for just a few ingredients: Italian guanciale (pork jowl or cheek), Pecorino Romano, black pepper and fresh eggs. This recipe uses only traditional ingredients and and is made without the cream, onion or peas often seen in Italian restaurants abroad.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cheesy, meat lover, pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 485kcal


  • Kitchen Thermometer
  • Large Pot
  • Salt and Pepper Grinder
  • Large Skillet
  • Tongs


  • 11 oz spaghetti dry is fine
  • 1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground at a medium coarse setting
  • 3.5 oz pecorino romano cheese finely grated; use semi-hard if you can find it
  • 6 ¾ cups water for cooking the pasta
  • coarse salt to taste
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole eggs
  • 5 oz guanciale or pancetta


Prepare Ingredients

  • Freshly grate the pecorino with the finest setting available. You may use a food processor to do this quickly. Set aside.
    3.5 oz pecorino romano cheese
  • Freshly grind the black pepper using a medium-coarse setting. You can use a mortar and pestle if you prefer. Toast the pepper over very low heat just until you can smell it. Then, remove it from the heat and set aside.
    1 tbsp black pepper

Fry the Guanciale

  • Cut the guanciale into strips (about 1 inch x 1/3 of an inch). Fry the strips of guanciale in an uncreased pan over low heat.
    5 oz guanciale
  • When the fat on the guanciale begins to turn transparent, increase the heat to medium. Continue frying the guanciale until it is golden brown and crispy. Set aside.
    Leave the guanciale grease in the pan. We will finish the dish in this pan.

Make the Sauce

  • Combine one whole egg with 4 egg yolks and the pecorino cheese.
    4 egg yolks, 1 whole eggs
  • Whisk the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Set the bowl aside.

Cook the Pasta

  • In a medium-large pot, bring 6 ¾ cups of water to boil.
    6 ¾ cups water
  • Cook the spaghetti about 3/4 of the time listed on the package instructions. Cook the spaghetti in a little less water than you normally would—this will create a pasta water with more starch. We want to use the starchy pasta water to finish the spaghetti in the skillet.
    Halfway through the cook time, add a handful of coarse salt to the pasta water. 
    11 oz spaghetti, coarse salt
  • Drain the pasta and immediately transfer it to the pan with the guanciale grease. Add a ladle of the pasta water to the pan along with the spaghetti. Toss the spaghetti with the grease and the pasta water. 
  • Add half a ladle of the hot pasta water to the egg and pecorino, whisking continuously as you add it.
  • The result will be a creamier, shiny sauce. 

Finish the Pasta

  • Off the heat, immediately add the egg sauce to the still-hot spaghetti in the pan.
  • Stir continuously with tongs to combine the carbonara sauce with the spaghetti. The still hot spaghetti will continue cooking and will cook the egg sauce a bit as well, melting the pecorino. 
  • Add the toasted black pepper…
  • … and the fried guanciale. Continue mixing. The sauce will thicken as you stir.
  • When the sauce is no longer runny, immediately plate and serve!
  • Buon appetito!



Not Pancetta?
Guanciale is considered more traditional than pancetta here. However, even in Italy, restaurants will sometimes use pancetta. So, if that’s what you can find or prefer, go for it!
Finely grate the cheese!
Be sure to use finely grated pecorino cheese. If you use a food processor to grate the pecorino from a wedge, use a fork to push the grated cheese through a fine strainer to create a fine powder. 


Sodium: 620mg | Calcium: 563mg | Vitamin A: 214IU | Sugar: 2g | Fiber: 3g | Potassium: 236mg | Cholesterol: 52mg | Calories: 485kcal | Saturated Fat: 9g | Fat: 15g | Protein: 26g | Carbohydrates: 61g | Iron: 2mg


9 thoughts on “Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe – Authentic Italian”

  1. This is one of the few Piatto recipes that didn’t work out for me. The sauce was kind of lumpy, despite having planed the pecorino, and the pepper was overbearing. I wonder if I burned the pepper while toasting it as it did smoke a little bit. It was very disappointing considering that I LOVE all of the other Piatto recipes that I have followed.

    • Hi Andy—Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. In Italy, there’s a popular expression to say that Carbonara sauce has to go like clockwork—ie, the devil is in the details. The most common cause of lumpy sauce is overcooking the egg sauce. Be sure to drizzle the hot pasta water into the egg sauce slowly (from a few inches above the bowl) and whisk continuously. This helps the water to cool down just a bit before hitting the egg and cheese. When it is time to add the egg sauce to the pasta in the skillet, remove the pan from the heat first. Direct heat will usually overcook the egg and coagulate the cheese. This will also result in lumpy sauce or worse.

      Finally, be sure to grind the pecorino cheese to a fine powder. We usually use a fine food processor cheese attachment to do this job, then we pass the cheese through a sieve if it needs to be more fine. While freshly ground cheese is always ideal, the fine powdered pecorino that groceries sometimes sell is the right consistency for this recipe.

      As for the pepper, add less if the pepper is too strong for you and just toast the pepper (medium coarse grind) just until you smell it next time. Looking forward to hearing about the next try!


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