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This traditional carbonara recipe was created in the Lazio region (the area around Rome) in the middle of the 20th century, after World War II. We don't use cream, milk, garlic, onions, or other extra ingredients; we use only guanciale, eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and lots of black pepper (carbonaro is 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.



Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Whisk eggs, 1/2 of the 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 Pecorino Romano cheese and more black pepper.

Cook's Note:

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.

Editor's Note:

Please note the addition of reserved pasta water when using the magazine version of this recipe.

Nutrition Facts

764 calories; protein 39g; carbohydrates 85.1g; fat 28.4g; cholesterol 199.8mg; sodium 1181.6mg. Full Nutrition