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Pasta Carbonara is a simple, easy weeknight meal that your family will love, yet it’s classy and elegant enough for company. With bacon, onions, and lots of Parmesan cheese, this classic Italian-inspired dish is dressed to impress!
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Pasta Carbonara Recipe
Pasta is one of the most versatile foods on the planet. There are so many different sauces and meats and vegetables that help create almost infinite combinations, like Garlic Tomato & Shrimp Pasta, Penne Pasta Primavera.
One of my all-time favorite pasta dishes is Pasta Carbonara. It’s a delicious mix of spaghetti noodles, bacon, eggs, and Parmesan cheese.
Authentic pasta Carbonara includes guanciale, eggs, pecorino cheese, and lots of black pepper. I took some liberties and used items that similar but more easily accessible and readily available to any home cook.
Traditional recipes may not include onions and garlic, but I find that it adds another layer of incredible flavor so I include them in my recipe. If you want to get closer to an authentic Carbonara, you can omit them.
How to Make Classic Pasta Carbonara
- Cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling, salted water. A trick to keep the water from boiling over is to add just a little bit of oil to the water. I also usually turn the heat down from high to medium-high.
- While your spaghetti is boiling, cook up some bacon. The amount is totally up to you. A half-pound would be plenty, but you can use more or less. I use turkey bacon and cook it in the microwave. If you are using real bacon, I suggest cooking it in a frying pan on the stove and saving some of the grease. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to dry.
- Use some of that bacon grease to cook your onions and a little garlic. I added 6 cloves of garlic – yes, we are going heavy on the garlic here, because it makes everything taste wonderful! Pour in chicken stock and add the bacon back to the pan.
How to Make Carbonara Sauce
- For the sauce, mix up some eggs, Parmesan cheese, and some chopped, fresh parsley. Immediately pour the egg/Parmesan mixture over the hot pasta and stir it up – the heat from the pasta will cook the eggs, forming the delicious pasta carbonara sauce.
- Add in that wonderful bacon/onion/garlic mixture, black pepper, and some fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!
Absolutely not! Authentic Pasta Carbonara Sauce is made with eggs, cheese, bacon, and black pepper and tossed with pasta. The sauce gets its creaminess from the eggs, so no cream is needed.
Like most pasta in sauce recipes, Pasta Carbonara is best reheated on the stove, not in the microwave. Add to a pan over medium-low heat and toss or stir until heated through. If the pasta looks dry, you can add a teaspoon of olive oil at a time until it looks creamy again.
The eggs are actually cooked with the residual heat in this dish, but you want to work quickly otherwise you could end up with scrambled egg pasta instead of a silky pasta carbonara.
Eat More Pasta!
Pasta is easy, it’s delicious and oh so comforting. If you want some more amazing pasta recipes, here are a few to try:
- One Pan Ham & Cheese Tortellini
- Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta Salad
- Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta with Chicken
- Creamy, Four Cheese Spaghetti
- Million Dollar Spaghetti
- Ham and Cheese Instant Pot Pasta
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 pound bacon use more or less to your taste
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 4-6 cloves of garlic pressed or minced
- 1/2 of a white or yellow onion diced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- parsley for garnish optional
- black pepper to taste
- Boil your spaghetti noodles until al-dente.
- Cook your bacon in a frying pan or in the microwave. If using a frying pan, once the bacon is done, remove it from the pan, and discard all but 1 Tbsp. of the grease. Cut or crumble the bacon so it is bite-sized.
- Cook the diced onions over medium heat in the bacon grease until they are softened. A minute or so before the onions are done, add your garlic. If you cooked your bacon in the microwave, then cook the onions and garlic in about 1 Tbsp. olive oil.
- When the onions are done, add ½ cup chicken stock and put the bacon back in with the onions. Stir and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and Parmesan cheese.
- Drain the spaghetti and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately pour the egg and cheese mixture on top and stir.
- Pour the bacon/onion mixture over the top of the spaghetti and stir again.
- Chop the parsley and sprinkle on top for garnish if desired. Add black pepper to taste. Serve hot.
- Does Traditional Carbonara Have Cream? Absolutely not! Authentic Pasta Carbonara Sauce is made with eggs, cheese, bacon, and black pepper and tossed with pasta. The sauce gets its creaminess from the eggs, so no cream is needed.
- How to Reheat Leftover Pasta Carbonara Like most pasta in sauce recipes, Pasta Carbonara is best reheated on the stove, not in the microwave. Add to a pan over medium-low heat and toss or stir until heated through. If the pasta looks dry, you can add a teaspoon of olive oil at a time until it looks creamy again.
- What about the raw eggs? The eggs are actually cooked with the residual heat in this dish, but you want to work quickly otherwise you could end up with scrambled egg pasta instead of a silky pasta carbonara.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
Far from authentic. Carbonara is only pasta, guanciale, parmesan, pecorino, eggs and pepper. Nothing more. Anything else added and the dish can’t be called Carbonara: garlic, onion, cream…
If you would read the post, I say exactly that.
This recipe is absolutely awesome I have a couple friends who are constantly asking me to make it for them
Thank you Barbara! and thanks for stopping by.
The Italian way is to use pecorino cheese instead of parmesan and guanciale (or diced pancetta) instead of bacon. Much better than sliced bacon.
Hi, this recipe specifically calls for fresh shredded Parmesan, correct? I currently only have that bottled/packaged Parmesan dust people throw on pizza and was contemplating Jerry rigging the recipe with that? I don’t know how the texture would come out though.
So the thing with that type of cheese is that it doesn’t melt well. However, it could be a ok substitute if you can’t get your hands on fresh.
My In Laws helped me out and had an extra container of shredded Parmesan so all is well but good Lord am I in love with this recipe! Hopefully I can use this as my secrets weapon for my pasta disliking hubby! Haha
No parsley man and try, if you find any, using instead of bacon “guanciale” which is the cheek of the pig. It is way better than regular bacon.
Also use pecorino as cheese if you find any. Again it’s the perfect fit for a real Carbonara. But even though it isn’t the traditional one it does look good. Take it as a really good compliment since I’m Italian.
I guess I’m a little confused but when do you cook the eggs that you pour onto the spaghetti? If I’m reading this correctly, it appears as if you have nothing currently on a burner and the eggs are going onto the pasta raw. Please help a beginner like me make this delicious looking recipe.
The heat from the pan and the pasta will cook the eggs into a sauce. They don’t cook in the traditional sense like scrambled eggs.
Very tasty. Hubby had seconds!
So happy that you and your family loved this recipe! Thanks for stopping by D.
I try your recipes all the time. Love every one of them!!!!! Thanks and keep sharing!!
Thank you Kathy!