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!
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
- Kitchen Thermometer
- Large Pot
- Salt and Pepper Grinder
- Large Skillet
- 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
- 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!