Classic Italian Spaghetti Carbonara
Our best ever traditional carbonara with cheese and bacon. A cheesy pasta dish, easy to make & a family favorite.
Italian Carbonara is a lovely easy and quick dinner recipe. Full of flavor, this cheesy pasta dish can feed an army, or just one person.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of travelling to Floerence in Italy. It was there I learnt how to make this classic recipe.
I was walking around the narrow winding streets of Florence and saw an elderly lady walking toward me, so I stopped her and asked if she could tell me how to make a ‘real’ carbonara.
When I look back, it was quite comical. I didn’t speak a word of Italian, and she didn’t speak a word of English.
However, she understood the word Carbonara. She took me by the hand and led me down the narrow cobbled street until we reached a tiny shop which I can only describe as a delicatessen.
What goes in a classic carbonara?
We went in and she took some spaghetti from the shelf.
She pointed to the size of the spaghetti, which was a #8 size, which was quite a bit thicker than what I would buy at home, and put the package in my hand.
The lady then turned to the counter and spoke to the shop assistant, who was behind a small fridge, filled with all kinds of cured meats on one side, and cheeses on the other.
She then proceeded to point to some pancetta, which is a type of cured pork. The man cut a 2 inch thick piece of the pancetta, and wrapped it in some brown paper, and then the cheese, she pointed to some Pecorino Romano.
She told me this was delicious, bringing her fingers to her lips and kissing in the air! Ok, so I got some of that too. She said I could also use Permigiano Reggiano, but SHE preferred pecorino.
The lady then started telling me the recipe for how to make carbonara, and I was looking so puzzled because she was talking so fast in Italian.
I turned to the shop assistant, who, thankfully, was fluent in English. After some translation, I managed to decipher the recipe!
So that’s the story of how this recipe came about!
When I arrived back home after my holiday, that very night, I made the lady’s recipe. It was absolutely amazing! I felt like I was in Italy still.
The flavors were incredible, and the recipe so simple to make.
How do I make sure I don’t scramble the eggs?
I was worried about scrambling the eggs at the end, as I remember the lady had empasized taking the pan off the heat whilst I incorporated the eggs, so they didn’t cook so fast, and scramble.
The eggs needed to have time to get a good coating on the spaghetti, as well as the cheese before returning to the heat to completely cook.
Since that trip to Florence, this is how I always make spaghetti carbonara.
Does Carbonara have cream in it?
Unlike some recipes you see using cream, this is frowned upon by Italians. So stick with the eggs and the cheese if you want a traditional, classic carbonara.
I’ve varied the use of cured pork, simply because I always have bacon lardons in my freezer, and I don’t always get to a delicatessan to buy pancetta. if you can get that, use it because it really is wonderful in flavor!
💭 Top tips
We’ve used leftover pasta for this recipe. If you don’t have any, cook some to al dente in the morning, drain and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook the carbonara.
Using cold, leftover spaghetti really does make a difference and you will find the eggs and cheese will cling to the spaghetti much better and give it a good coating.
You can also adapt this recipe and make it into a whole meal in a pan, by adding some vegetables.
I know the purists wouldn’t do that, but when you’re cooking for a family and trying to incorporate some veggies into a meal, this is a good way to do it!
⏲️ Prep time
⏲️ Cook time
👪 Serving size
2 – 4 Persons
Knob of butter (just enough to cover the bottom of your pan to stop the pasta sticking. You can add more if you don’t mind the calories!)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
Leftover pasta (approx 2 servings )
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Parsley
1/2 Cup Pancetta or chopped, cooked bacon
salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter in your frying pan, add garlic, bacon and any chosen vegetables. I used thinly sliced brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Toss until cooked through, then add the cooked pasta, combining.
2. When the pasta has heated through, briefly remove the pan from the heat, pour the beaten eggs over the pasta, toss until cooked and the egg has stuck on to the pasta.
Then add the grated Parmesan and toss until it is nicely distributed. return to heat to warm through and cook the eggs.
3. Turn out onto pasta bowl, sprinkle with extra Parmesan if you wish, and add chopped parsley to garnish
We’d love to hear from you and what you thought of our post. Did you make any changes or add some other goodies? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy cooking!
Our Share n Tear Garlic & Parmesan Bread goes great with this!
- t Knob of butter, just enough to cover the bottom of your pan to stop the pasta sticking. You can add more if you don' mind the calories!
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Salt and pepper
- Left over pasta, approx 2 servings
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chopped Parsley
- 1/2 Cup Pancetta or chopped, cooked bacon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in your frying pan, add garlic, bacon and any chosen vegetables. I used thinly sliced brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Toss until cooked through, then add the cooked pasta, combining.
- When the pasta has heated through, briefly remove the pan from the heat, pour the beaten eggs over the pasta, toss until cooked and the egg has stuck on to the pasta. Then add the grated Parmesan and toss until it is nicely distributed. return to heat to warm through and cook the eggs.
- Turn out onto pasta bowl, sprinkle with extra Parmesan if you wish, and add chopped parsley to garnish
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 128mgSodium: 569mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 17g