Spaghetti alla Carbonara is deliciously, simple pasta dish that requires only a few key ingredients. The result is a creamy Italian pasta dish accented with salty bits of bacon and creamy Pecorino-Romano cheese.
If you’ve never made Spaghetta alla Carbonara before, you’ll love this easy and delicious recipe! The secret is “to keep it simple” with fresh Pecorino-Romano cheese, a few salty bits of bacon–all tossed in creamy eggs.
What is Carbonara?
The origin of Spaghetti alla Carbonara is obscure, the name may have been derived from the word “carbonada“, which means “bacon” in central Italian dialect. A true Italian would make their own pasta, use guanciale (cured hog jowl), freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, fresh eggs and a lot of pepper.
Since I do not have a pasta maker (yet), nor do I have a hog’s jowl, I used the highest quality Italian pasta, an aged Pecorino-Romano cheese blend and bacon. Unfortunately, there were no leftovers…
Ingredients for Pasta Carbonara
The star of this recipe is the simplicity of flavors from the carbonara ingredients: pasta, eggs, Pecorino-Romano cheese, salty pork, (bacon crumbles), and fresh ground pepper. That’s it. There is no need to add onion, garlic, cream, salt or peas to spaghetti alla carbonara! Let the simplicity shine through! You may want to double the recipe if you’re feeding a lot of men or a big group.
How Safe is it to Use Raw Eggs in Spaghetti alla Carbonara?
Raw eggs are relatively safe in a carbonara dish once you temper the eggs with warm pasta water. However, you can certainly substitute pasteurized eggs, but it’s not really necessary.
The tempering process is quick and easy and allows the temperature of the eggs to come up enough so the eggs are safe to eat. The tricky part is incorporating the eggs without making scrambled eggs and pasta.
How to Temper Raw Eggs
To temper eggs, put whole, un-cracked eggs in a bowl of tap water and let eggs sit about 9 minutes, or, start with room temperature eggs. Crack and separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a bowl. Gradually add warm pasta water to the egg yolks, stirring continuously; repeat process until eggs are at a thin consistency.
Craving More Italian? If you prefer a pasta with a red sauce, try San Marzano pasta sauce!
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- 1 lb spaghetti pasta
- 8 oz Percorino-Romano cheese grated
- 2 egg yolks room temperature
- 10 cups water (for pasta; reserve some to temper the eggs)
- 8 slices bacon cooked, crumbled and drained
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (optional)
- Take eggs out of fridge; allow to sit at room temperture or place in bowl of lukewarm tap water
- Grate Pecorino-Romano cheese; set aside
- Bring water to boil
- Cut bacon into small pieces; set aside
- Separate eggs and stir in 1/2 cup of grated cheese; set aside
- In a large pan, cook bacon pieces till done; place them on a paper towel;
- Pour off most of the bacon grease; place pan on the stove on a low setting
- Cook pasta 9 minutes (al dente); drain (reserve some of the water in a bowl); set aside
- Using tongs, transfer cooked pasta to the warm pan
- Add 1 cup warm pasta water to pasta; combine well
Temper the Eggs
- Crack and separate eggs; place egg yolks in a bowl; whisk well; add 1/2 cup grated cheese to eggs; combine well
- Add ¼ cup of warm pasta water to egg/cheese mixture, stirring continuously; repeat by adding another ¼ cup warm pasta water to egg/cheese mixture; combine well
- Pour egg/cheese/water mixture over pasta; combine well
- Add remaining ½ cup grated cheese and bacon crumbles to pasta and tempered egg mixture; (add red pepper flakes now if using them)
- Add ground pepper to pasta; combine well and serve; garnish with remaining cheese
- I did quite a bit of research on this recipe and learned that an authentic carbonara sauce uses no cream, no Parmesan, no onions, no garlic and no green peas
- The "bacon" used in a truly authentic carbonara is actually guanciale, which is an Italian cured meat from the pork jowls.
- You can substitute the Pecorino-Romano cheese with Parmesan, but authentic carbonara doesn't use Parmesan; Pecorino-Romano is much more pungent and flavorful