Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

The delicious pasta carbonara is the easiest and quickest pasta dish you will make. This classic Italian pasta dish is made with creamy eggs, Parmesan cheese, salty pancetta, and a hint of black pepper and can be prepared in only 15 minutes.

I remember the first time I ate pasta carbonara. It was in a small, casual restaurant near Piazza Navona in Rome. Before traveling to Italy I made a promise to myself that I would not get duped by those typical tourist traps, but it happened. My friends and I were starving after having covered who knows how many kilometres on foot of the city. We were aware of our surroundings, meaning most of the restaurants were flooded with tourists. Coincidentally, it also meant it was a bad idea to eat in that particular area. But our growling stomachs got the best of us, and so we caved. Albeit the dish tasted fantastic, it lacked the pizzazz most Italian dishes have, and it was ridiculously overpriced. But what’s done, is done. Having said that, that lackluster experience introduced me to pasta carbonara, and I am forever grateful – and so is my family!

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta carbonara is a typical Roman dish, traditionally made with Pecorino Romano cheese and guanciale (an Italian cured meat that takes its name from guancia – the Italian word for cheek). The pasta of choice is usually spaghetti, although it’s just as delicious with other varieties such as linguine, fettuccine, and penne. Interpretations of the recipe vary according to geographic location. For example, in northern Italy they add Parmesan and sometimes peas while in the south they use Pecorino Romano cheese and omit the peas. Every variation of pasta carbonara is just as delicious as the last, regardless of which part of Italy you’re from.

Pasta carbonara has gained a reputation for being heavy and fattening due to the addition of cream, thanks to North American renditions of the recipe. On the contrary, the traditional Italian recipe doesn’t even call for cream. Yes, it is a super-rich, luscious dish, but all that creaminess actually comes from the raw eggs’ coming in contact with the hot pasta and being gently cooked with the residual heat from the pasta.

And then there’s the pepper. Cracked black pepper, to be exact. You’re supposed to use lots of it. I’m not a huge a fan of pepper in general, so this recipe reflects my personal tastes. I’ve only used a touch to season the pancetta, and instead of using it as a garnish I’ve added fresh parsley, more Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Pasta Carbonara

If you try this recipe (and love it!) be sure to snap a pic and tag me on Instagram with #bitesforfoodies so I can see your creation!

Pasta Carbonara

: Serves 4-6
: 5 min
: 15 min

The delicious pasta carbonara is the easiest and quickest pasta dish you will make. This classic Italian pasta dish is made with creamy eggs, Parmesan cheese, salty pancetta, and a hint of black pepper and can be prepared in only 15 minutes. I remember the first time I ate pasta carbonara. It was in a …


Pasta Carbonara
    450 g fettucine pasta
  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • About 1 cup pancetta, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 large organic eggs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup - 1/2 cup pasta cooking water
  • parsley for garnish
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook for 1-2 less than the suggested cooking time on the package. In the meantime, heat olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan. Finely dice the onions then add to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. In the meantime, chop the pancetta into cubes then add to frying pan with the black pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the meat is crispy and golden and has rendered its fat. Reduce the heat to simmer. While the pancetta is cooking, whisk the eggs and the Parmesan cheese until well-combined in a separate small bowl.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of the water, then drain. Add the pasta to the frying pan with the pancetta and 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Toss until the bubbling subsides and most of the pasta water has evaporated. If the pasta still looks somewhat dry, add the remaining water and continue to heat until it evaporates.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly until the eggs thicken. The residual heat will cook the eggs but be sure to stir quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If the sauce seems too thick, you can thin it out by adding some of the reserved pasta water. Season with freshly cracked black pepper, parsley, Parmesan, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Taste for seasoning before serving; the pancetta is quite salty so you may not need to add any additional salt.

17 thoughts on “Pasta Carbonara”

  • Carbonara was the first dish I cooked all by myself and I was glad it turned out good! Your recipe reminds me to try my hands on it again 😀 Thanks, maybe this time I’ll try yours

  • Kerri 6 years ago

    Follow up to my earlier post — I tried it tonight for my husband’s birthday and it was a winner (and so easy)! Thanks again!

  • Censie 6 years ago

    Pasta dishes are our favorite meals. My kids love pasta so I love serving it. This is a great recipe that I’ll keep for next week. Thanks for the idea.

  • I remember reading this the other day. Sorry My comment didn’t go through then. I love Pasta Carbonara. I remember making one on my blog too. I love any type of pasta. This was looks so delicious though. Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

  • This is one of my favorite pasta dishes! Ive never actually mad sit at home so Im glad I came across your easy to make recipe. Normally I would order it but this looks easy enough for me to make.

  • nmetolen75 6 years ago

    I love pasta! I could seriously eat it at every meal and never get tired of it, especially since there are just so many ways to mix it up. This sounds like a delicious recipe! I’m not sure I’ve ever had carbonara before.

  • Madi 6 years ago

    I love any type of pasta, it is my favorite food! Somehow, I have never actually tried carbonara before but it sounds amazing! I will have to add it to my menu for this week!

  • I love anything that has to do with pasta. Seriously, I think I could eat pasta for every single meal. I didn’t know that Pasta Carbonara was a Roman Dish! I guess I always assumed it was Italian.

  • Kerri 6 years ago

    It’s my husband’s fave dish to order in a restaurant, but it has been years since I tried making the creamy version at home — mostly because I limit dairy (I reserve my dairy “budget” for when it’s really worth it). This version could work very nicely! Thanks for the motivation (his bday is coming up)!

  • Liz Graham 6 years ago

    This looks amazing! What would be a good fish substitute for the pancetta?

    • Not sure any fish would go well with the eggs! You can just omit the pancetta and add more herbs or seasoned salt for flavour!

      • Kerri 6 years ago

        Or maybe smoked salmon? It seems to hit it off with eggs on a Benedict and has the saltiness factor!

        • YES!!! Why didn’t I think of that?! Too bad I can’t take credit for your brilliant substitution idea! Don’t be surprised if you see a recipe for meatless carbonara one of these days…;-)

  • I love Pasta Carbonara but never ventured out to try making it at home. I’m bookmarking your recipe so I can try my hand at it after the holidays – it would be wonderful to be able to have it without going out to eat or paying restaurant prices.

    I enjoyed reading about the variations in different parts of Italy – and how the North American version differs from the Italian originals.

    • You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make…you must try it! Please let me know how it turns out for you!

  • Since I like creamy version, the Italian original recipe may not be for my liking. I haven’t tried eating carbonara with lots of pepper. I must try this next time and see if it will be something right up my alley.

    • You could always add a few dollops of cream. It does add a rich flavour! I actually prefer this version because I don’t eat dairy 😉

Leave a Reply