Spaghetti Carbonara

5 from 4 votes

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This Spaghetti Carbonara is a simple, traditional Italian recipe. With bacon, garlic, and fresh Parmesan cheese, it is full of flavor!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara in a bowl
Featured with this recipe
  1. Meet the Meat
  2. Ingredients
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Make an Italian Feast
  5. How to Make Spaghetti Carbonara
  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 recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara! This is a very traditional Italian recipe, very simple and easy, but FULL of flavor. This stuff is the REAL DEAL. We devoured it! Thanks for sharing with us Nick!

Meet the Meat

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

  • Pancetta: a cut of pork belly that is salt cured, not smoked. Often used in Italy, you can find it 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 carbonara, 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.


  • Spaghetti
  • Bacon – or pancetta
  • Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Heavy cream
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese – flaked or shredded

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between fettuccine and carbonara?

Fettuccine has fewer ingredients: pasta, specifically fettuccine noodles, cream, and parmesan. Carbonara has a few more ingredients: spaghetti, pancetta or bacon, egg or egg yolks, cream, sometimes onion, parmesan. They are similarly creamy and delicious, but differ in ingredients.

How would you describe carbonara?

Salty, tangy, and sharp from the Parmesan 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 contain raw egg?

Although it is partially heated, there is typically some raw egg in carbonara. If you want to be sure to cook the egg, add the drained pasta while it is still piping hot to the egg mixture. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs.

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

Make an Italian Feast

When it comes to amazing Italian dishes, 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 Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara in a bowl

Spaghetti Carbonara

5 from 4 votes
This Spaghetti Carbonara is a simple, traditional Italian recipe. With bacon, garlic, and fresh Parmesan 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



  • Boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.
  • 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.
  • Return skillet to stovetop and reduce heat to low. Stir in garlic and heat until garlic becomes golden brown and fragrant.
  • Beat together eggs, milk, and pepper. Stir in about ½ of the Parmesan cheese to the egg mixture.
  • Using tongs, take pasta directly from pasta water to the skillet. DO NOT DRAIN and DO NOT DISCARD PASTA WATER. Keep skillet on low heat.
  • Add crumbled bacon, egg mixture, and remaining Parmesan to pasta. Toss together until everything is mixed together.
  • If the pasta becomes too dry, spoon in some of the reserved pasta water a little at a time. Garnish with chopped green onion, red pepper flakes or extra Parmesan to taste.


Garnish with parsley for a fresh look and flavor. 

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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  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.