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Published October 13, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Make this delicious classic Roman Spaghetti Pasta carbonara in under 20 minutes using just 5 ingredients for the most amazing pasta recipe ever. You will love how tasty and simple-to-prepare this dish is.
Being in an Italian family, we often eat pasta. If you’re looking to get started with some basic Italian recipes, then you must try my Spaghetti and the Best Meatballs ever recipe or make my homemade pasta from scratch.
Carbonara is 1 of the 4 classic Roman dishes consisting of crisp-cooked guanciale, egg yolks, pecorino Romano cheese, hot pasta water, salt, and pepper made into a sauce and tossed with spaghetti. It can also be coated in any pasta that you’d like.`
Steering from any of these ingredients will result in a variation of carbonara, but it will not be the traditional version as it was intended to be made.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pork – Guanciale is the classic pork to use. However, you can use Pancetta. If neither is available, then go to prosciutto or bacon.
- Cheese – Pecorino Romano is the traditional cheese used in Rome. Parmigiana Reggiano is a great substitute.
- Eggs – Chilled or room temperature large egg yolks are needed for this carbonara. You can use the leftover egg whites in my Angel Food Cake.
- Pasta – You can use fresh homemade pasta or dry pasta. In addition, spaghetti is the most classic pasta type used for this.
- Olive Oil – This isn’t necessary but can be used to start the pork.
How To Make Pasta Carbonara
- Add some olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Cook the medium to large diced guanciale until crispy brown. Keep warm.
- Whisk together egg yolks, pecorino romano cheese, and cracked pepper until combined.
- Temper the eggs by whisking in ½ of the hot rendered guanciale fat in the pan.
- Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes or until al dente.
- Meanwhile, take ¼ cup of the hot pasta water and slowly add it to the egg mixture bowl while constantly whisking to bring it to safe temperatures.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the egg mixture bowl.
- Add the guanciale to the bowl as well.
- Toss the pasta completely, coating it in the sauce.
- Finish with more pecorino romano and pepper
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: This is meant to be eaten as soon as it is finished being made.
How to Store: Cover in plastic and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Carbonara will not freeze well, and I advise against it.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of pasta to a medium-sized saucepot, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, and heat over low to medium heat while continually gently stirring with a spoon until hot. Adjust seasonings and serve.
chef notes + tips
- Guanciale is cured pig jowls (cheeks) that often have spices and herbs incorporated.
- Above all, when making this recipe, only use the egg yolk!
- Under no circumstance should a classic carbonara sauce have cream. Adding cream would completely delegitimize the classic and authentic nature of pasta carbonara.
- The absolute key to a tasty carbonara sauce is making sure to use guanciale and pecorino because of their naturally high salt content. These two ingredients will go a long way to flavoring this pasta carbonara.
- Try adding cooked chicken or shrimp to this dish for an extra punch of protein.
More Pasta Recipes
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Lasagna Bolognese
- Pomodoro Sauce with Spaghetti
- Homemade Linguine Pasta with White Clam Sauce Recipe
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Homemade Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces medium diced guanciale
- 5 egg yolks
- ½ cup packed pecorino romano + more for garnish
- 12 ounces uncooked homemade spaghetti or 1 pound dried
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Add olive oil to a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Next, add in the guanciale and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp and browned. Keep warm.
- In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, Romano cheese, and cracked pepper until combined.
- Temper the eggs by whisking in ½ of the hot rendered guanciale fat from the pan until combined.
- Next, add in the homemade pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking take ¼ cup of the hot boiling pasta water and whisk it into the egg mixture further bringing it into safe temperatures.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture along with the crisp-cooked guanciale and toss until completely coated.
- Serve in a large pasta bowl and garnish with more Romano cheese and cracked pepper.