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Spaghetti alla Carbonara: the Traditional Italian Recipe

Rated as 4.64 out of 5 Stars

"This dish was created in the Lazio region (the area around Rome) in the middle of the 20th century, after World War Two. We don't use cream, milk, garlic, onions or other strange ingredients; we use only guanciale, eggs, pecorino cheese, and lots of black pepper (carbonaro is the Italian for coal miner). This isn't the Italian-American version, it's the real, creamy carbonara and it comes right from Italy, where I live. Buon appetito."
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29 m servings 764
Original recipe yields 4 servings


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  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add guanciale (see Cook's Note). Cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned and crispy, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until tender yet firm to the bite, about 9 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Let cool, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk eggs, 5 tablespoons pecorino Romano cheese, and some black pepper in a bowl until smooth and creamy. Pour egg mixture over pasta, stirring quickly, until creamy and slightly cooled. Stir in guanciale. Top with remaining 5 tablespoons pecorino Romano cheese and more ground black pepper.


  • Cook's Notes:
  • Guanciale, dry-cured pork jowl, is available from specialty markets. Substitute unsmoked bacon or pancetta for the guanciale if desired.
  • Use Italian pasta for best results. Substitute bucatini for the spaghetti if preferred.
  • Substitute Parmesan cheese for the pecorino Romano if desired.
  • Tip: ask somebody to hold the pot so you can stir pasta quickly while pouring the egg mixture over it.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 764 calories; 28.4 85.3 39.1 200 1182 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 38
  1. 58 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

Awesome! I don't know how readily available guanciale is in the States, but if you can't find it, use pancetta. Just don't use regular N. American bacon. The curing process is different and chan...

Most helpful critical review

Did not care for this. Had a bitterness and off flavor. Not sure if the cheese or the pancetta. Probably both.

Most helpful
Most positive
Least positive

Awesome! I don't know how readily available guanciale is in the States, but if you can't find it, use pancetta. Just don't use regular N. American bacon. The curing process is different and chan...

I used pancetta and other than whisking a few tablespoons pasta water into the eggs before adding to temper them a bit didn't change a thing. Next time will make it with parmiagiano reggiano che...

My 23 year old son loves spaghetti carbonara and makes his own often. This evening I asked him to help me make this recipe for our family of 5. He asked me if it had cream in it...because an ...

I really love carbonara. This recipe didn't disappoint. When I got the pancetta from the deli, I had them slice it fairly thin. I think that was a mistake. It made it more salty then I inten...

I decided to make it because my kids like bacon.. I (against my inclination) decided to keep it simple like the recipe indicates. The kids liked it and for me it reaffirms that sometimes less is...

Guanciale can be bought at Whole Foods

So delicious and so easy! I’ve always been afraid of carbonara, but never again! Next time I’ll use less pancetta (maybe 1/2 — 3/4 lb). Just our preference. Great recipe!

I used cubed ham slice that's what I had. Came out delicious. I'll be making this regularly with the ham since it is inexpensive and readily available.

Love this traditional recipe! If you like it a little more creamier then save 1/2 cup of the pasta water (make sure you salt the water when cooking the pasta). Add the water with the egg mixtur...