Carbonara Sauce

Spaghetti carbonara is a traditional Italian dish that is super simple but brimming with flavor. The carbonara sauce is easy to make with only five ingredients, one being pasta water. This is one of those meals that you can easily throw together alongside a salad or vegetable side dish with very little time and effort.

Carbonara also manages to be one of those pasta dishes that feels both light but rich and filling at the same time. The main components are pancetta (or bacon), egg yolks and cheese.

Related: Next up, learn to make Tomato Sauce, Vodka Sauce, Alfredo Sauceand homemade Pesto.

Ingredients

  • Pancetta, or thick cut bacon
  • Parmesan
  • Egg yolks
  • Garlic
  • Spaghetti noodles
  • Salt and pepper

Pasta water is also a critical component of this recipe, but you will make it as you cook the noodles.

Directions

Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Before straining, reserve some of the pasta water.

In a large saucepan, cook the pancetta (or bacon) until fully cooked, but not too crispy. Then toss in the garlic and cook for another minute.

In a small bowl, add a few tablespoons of the (hot) pasta water to the egg yolk and stir to incorporate. Add a few more tablespoons at a time, stirring in between. The goal here is heat up the yolks gradually so they don’t curdle/cook once added to the pan.

Now add the pasta and yolk mixture to the pancetta pan. Reduce the heat to low and toss everything with tongs. Sprinkle in the cheese and continue to toss until the cheese begins to melt. Taste and add any salt or pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Tips & Substitutions

  • Pancetta is the traditional option for carbonara sauce, but sometimes this ingredient is difficult to find at the grocery stores I frequent. If that’s the case for you as well, thick cut bacon will also work for this recipe.
  • If you do notice the eggs curdling or cooking too fast, it’s OK! This will only change the texture, it doesn’t mean the dish is completely ruined. It will be more like fried rice than traditional carbonara but still tasty.
  • I will often add a sprinkle of fresh herbs, like parsley, before serving just for a little added flavor and green, but this is optional and not necessarily traditional.

Serving Suggestions

I love this carbonara recipe alongside a big salad or vegetable side dish. Here are some ideas.


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Get the Recipe

A classic Italian pasta sauce made with pancetta, eggs and cheese.

Yield 4

Prep 5 minutes

Cook 15 minutes

Total 20 minutes

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Before straining, reserve some of the pasta water.

  • In a large saucepan, cook the pancetta (or bacon) until fully cooked, but not too crispy.

  • Then toss in the garlic and cook for another minute.

  • In a small bowl, add a few tablespoons of the (hot) pasta water to the egg yolk and stir to incorporate. Add a few more tablespoons at a time, stirring in between. The goal here is heat up the yolks gradually so they don’t curdle/cook once added to the pan.

  • Now add the pasta and yolk mixture to the pancetta pan. Reduce the heat to low and toss everything with tongs.

  • Sprinkle in the cheese and continue to toss until the cheese begins to melt.

  • Taste and add any salt or pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Notes

Pancetta is the traditional option for carbonara sauce, but sometimes this ingredient is difficult to find at the grocery stores I frequent. If that’s the case for you as well, thick cut bacon will also work for this recipe.
If you do notice the eggs curdling or cooking too fast, it’s OK! This will only change the texture, it doesn’t mean the dish is completely ruined. It will be more like fried rice than traditional carbonara but still tasty.
I will often add a sprinkle of fresh herbs, like parsley, before serving just for a little added flavor and green, but this is optional and not necessarily traditional.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Carbonara Sauce

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.

Source

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