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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
10 mins
cook:
15 mins
additional:
5 mins
total:
30 mins
Servings:
4
Yield:
4 servings
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Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

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  • 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, half 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 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.

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 78% DV; carbohydrates 85.1g 28% DV; fat 28.4g 44% DV; cholesterol 199.8mg 67% DV; sodium 1181.6mg 47% DV. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (57)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
02/19/2016
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 changes the flavor of the pasta considerably. I used gluten free bucatini. Grazie Ivan!! Read More
(32)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
04/04/2020
It was good but not great. It needed more flavor. Next time I’ll add some butter and garlic. Read More
89 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 62
  • 4 star values: 21
  • 3 star values: 4
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
02/19/2016
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 changes the flavor of the pasta considerably. I used gluten free bucatini. Grazie Ivan!! Read More
(32)
Rating: 5 stars
04/05/2017
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 cheese for a nuttier, milder flavor. Leftovers are great for breakfast. This is the best recipe I have found. Read More
(24)
Rating: 5 stars
10/22/2017
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 authentic carbonara does NOT have cream. I assured him that it had no cream in it. Once we started, he was a bit frustrated because I wasn't doing it "his" way but he still was a great help. It turned out wonderful and he admitted that it was "just as good as his". I looooooved it, and will be making it again. It was VERY easy....and seeing the video before I made it ensured that I knew just when to add the egg mixture so that it wouldn't "cook up some scrambled eggs". Thanks for the great, simple recipe!!! Read More
(17)
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Rating: 5 stars
09/05/2017
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 intended. What I should've done is get it cut thick and cube it so that you get small pops of salty flavor. When it is thin, it spreads out too much and gives too much salty flavor to it. But still, I'll make this again! I have to get the recipe right. ;) Read More
(8)
Rating: 5 stars
03/04/2018
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 mixture into the pasta and stir. I will make this many times as it’s my favorite! Read More
(6)
Rating: 4 stars
04/30/2016
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 more. Read More
(5)
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Rating: 5 stars
02/23/2019
Guanciale can be bought at Whole Foods Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
10/25/2017
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! Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
05/05/2019
Love this! I used Panchetta and we added shrimp. And since I’m cooking for two I cut it in half. I also suggest using two whole eggs and one yolk. Don’t add cheese till after. I also like adding pasta water to my Carbonara to make it creamy!!! Read More
(2)
Rating: 3 stars
04/04/2020
It was good but not great. It needed more flavor. Next time I’ll add some butter and garlic. Read More
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