Creamy Carbonara Recipe

5 from 5 votes
14 Comments

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This Creamy Carbonara Pasta recipe is a simple, traditional Italian recipe. With bacon, garlic, and fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, it is full of flavor!

our creamy carbonara recipe in a bowl
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Nick’s Creamy Carbonara Recipe
  2. Meet the Meat
  3. Frequently Asked Questions About Nick’s Creamy Carbonara Recipe
  4. Make an Italian Feast
  5. How to Make Nick’s Creamy Carbonara Recipe
  6. Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

This is yet another dish that comes from my amazing brother-in-law, Nick (the Italian cuisine master). You might recall seeing his name attached to the delicious Nick’s Authentic Italian Spaghetti in another post. Nick lived in Italy for a couple years and brought back some awesome recipes, including this Creamy Carbonara Pasta recipe! This is a very traditional Italian recipe, very simple and easy, but FULL of flavor. You will love the creamy sauce, crisp bacon, and tender pasta. This stuff is the REAL DEAL – Pasta alla Carbonara. We devoured it! Thanks for sharing with us Nick!

Ingredients in Nick’s Creamy Carbonara Recipe

  • Spaghetti – use long noodles like spaghetti, fettuccine, or angel hair
  • Bacon – see below for more meat options
  • Garlic
  • Eggs – Eggs give this pasta sauce the creamiest consistency. Be sure to follow the instructions for tempering the eggs so they don’t scramble in the pan.
  • Heavy Cream
  • Black Pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – grated over the finest side of a box grater, you can also use pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
  • Optional Toppings – red pepper flakes, parsley, fresh ground black pepper, green onions, fresh basil, extra grated cheese
Creamy Carbonara in a pan


Meet the Meat

There are a few options when choosing your meat for this Creamy Carbonara pasta recipe. All have merit, some people have a favorite. Let me introduce you to…

  • Pancetta: a cured, not smoked, cut of pork belly. Often used in Italy, you can find cured pork in soups and pastas to add flavor, depth, and salt. A versatile Italian protein, pancetta is delicious when chopped and fried. Easy to find at most grocery stores, pancetta is a traditional choice for carbonara.
  • Guanciale: an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl or cheeks. Guanciale is the most traditional meat choice for this creamy carbonara recipe, although it not easily found at most grocery stores. It has a salty, fatty, and rich flavor, very similar to pancetta or bacon. Like pancetta, it too is cured, not smoked.
  • Bacon: a type of pork made from the belly or less fatty parts of the back that is either salt-cured or smoked. As it is cheapest and easiest to get ahold of, bacon (among some) is a popular choice for this pasta dish.
A plate of crumbled bacon

Frequently Asked Questions About Nick’s Creamy Carbonara Recipe

How do you make carbonara not curdle?

Our trick to the creamiest sauce in this creamy carbonara recipe is tempering the eggs with a bit of pasta water. Mix a ladle or two of pasta water into the egg mixture and stir well. This helps the eggs to heat up slowly and stay creamy.

Why did my carbonara sauce curdle?

Either you skipped the tempering step, or your pan was too hot when you added the egg mixture.

How would you describe carbonara?

Salty, tangy, and sharp from the cheese with bits of savory, salty, and richness from the pork. You don’t taste the egg, it more creates a creamy texture.

What cheese is in real carbonara?

Many say a TRUE carbonara uses Pecorino Romano, but many people use Parmesan (or Parmigiano Reggiano). Both cheeses are aged, hard cheeses with a salty tang. The main difference is that Pecorino Romano is made with sheep’s milk, which Parmesan is made with cow’s milk.

Does carbonara use whole eggs or just yolks?

We use whole eggs in our recipe. If you are really worried about curdling, you can just use the egg yolks, but you may need to add in a few more yolks than our recipe calls for.

Read More:35+ Quick and Easy To Follow Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Surely Love

our creamy carbonara recipe in a bowl with a fork taking a bite out of it

Make an Italian Feast

When it comes to amazing Italian dishes like this creamy carbonara recipe, there is no shortage of recipes that really get our mouths watering. If you’re looking for something light, check out our Easy Italian Pasta Salad or our Zesty Italian Lunch Wrap. Both are packed with flavor but are light enough to suffice for lunch, or a quick and delicious summery dinner.

Perhaps you’re more interested in a full Italian feast, something filling and a spread you can share. Try our Italian Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, served with Cheesy Italian Bread and One Pan Chicken and Italian Style Veggies on the side.

No matter which way you choose to go, you won’t be sorry. Italian food has a way of drawing people in and making them feel at home. There is just something about walking in the door and noting the aroma of Italian seasoning, tomatoes, garlic and bread mingling in the air. Geez! Is it dinner time yet? We’re getting hungry just thinking about all these options!

How to Make Nick’s Creamy Carbonara Recipe

our creamy carbonara recipe in a bowl

Spaghetti Carbonara

5 from 5 votes
This Spaghetti Carbonara is a simple, traditional Italian recipe. With bacon, garlic, and fresh grated cheese, it is full of flavor!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water. DO NOT DRAIN. While pasta is cooking, cook bacon in a large skillet. When bacon is cooked and slightly crispy, remove from skillet and drain all but about 3-4 tablespoons of the remaining bacon grease from the skillet. Crumble bacon.
    A plate of crumbled bacon
  • Return skillet to stovetop and reduce heat to low. Stir in garlic and heat until garlic becomes golden brown and fragrant.
    garlic cooking in bacon grease in a pan
  • Beat together eggs, milk, and pepper. Stir in about ½ of the grated cheese to the egg mixture. Add a ladle or two of the hot pasta water and stir well.
    carbonara sauce in a glass measuring cup
  • Using tongs, take pasta directly from pasta water to the skillet. Add crumbled bacon, egg mixture, and remaining Parmesan to pasta. Toss together until everything is mixed together.
    Creamy Carbonara in a pan
  • Serve immediately. If the pasta becomes too dry, spoon in some of the reserved pasta water or heavy cream a little at a time. Garnish with black pepper and extra grated cheese.
    our creamy carbonara recipe in a bowl

Notes

  • Be VERY careful when adding the egg mixture. If the pan is too hot the egg will curdle and you will have what one of our readers called “breakfast pasta”. 
  • This dish is best right out of the warm pan. Leftovers will not be as creamy so try to eat it right away! 
  • Add grilled chicken or shrimp for extra protein.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 730kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 30gFat: 41gSaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 907mgPotassium: 370mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 365IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 315mgIron: 2mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is one of my favorite Italian pasta dishes to order when I go out. And being able to make it at home right now was a big plus. It definitely has that authentic Italian flavor and, dare I admit, was even better than what I had out last time. This one is a keeper.

  2. 5 stars
    We made this for dinner tonight and I just have to say it was so, so good. Really excellent. The green onions gave it a great crunch and the crushed red pepper just a bit of heat. Thanks so much for this fabulous recipe.

  3. I made this for dinner last night and the egg scrambled. It does it every time…maybe I shouldn’t keep my skillet on low and just cook the bacon and garlic ahead of time so the skillet is much cooler when it’s time to add it all together?

    1. I’m guessing the pan is getting too hot while you’re cooking the garlic. You might try just warming the garlic through in the bacon drippings and then immediately adding the warm pasta and egg mixture. You also might want to condition the egg mixture by adding a tablespoon or two of the hot water to it to bring it up to a higher temperature before mixing it in. If all of that fails add more heavy cream to the eggs (and don’t use milk, just cream or half and half if you can’t take the cream).

  4. I am SOOO trying this soon. I’ve tried to make carbonara so many times, but I always end up scrambling the egg in the sauce…my husband always kids me and calls the results “breakfast pasta.”

  5. 5 stars
    This was amazing. My entire family loved it! I added fresh basil on top as well as fresh chopped tomatoes. The best part was it on took a about 15 minutes to make!

  6. I have a few questions on the egg mixture part. Do I cook that and add it to the pasta or do I add it raw? And why do you say to not discard the pasta water? Just need clarification so I don’t ruin it when I make it:)

    1. You put the egg in raw. The noodles are hot enough that it cooked the egg. You want the egg coating all the noodles. You don’t discard the pasta water in case you need to add some it at the end. Sometimes the noodles can seem a little dry so by adding the pasta water you can moisten them without losing that good flavor.