A good, Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe is a must-have, back-pocket recipe. Not only is it super easy to make, it only needs 5 ingredients to make! Have lunch or dinner whipped up in 15 minutes with this creamy, carbonara pasta!
Thinking back to culinary school, one of my favorite recipes is probably a creamy spaghetti carbonara. It would be an understatement if I said I kind of liked it, because in two month's time, I sure made more carbonara than I can count with my fingers, lol.
It's just so easy and simple to make. Got eggs, parm, bacon, black pepper, and spaghetti? Ya got dinner covered in 15 minutes! Anywho, it's really, really good, and you need it in your life. So go make it!
Now let's dive into some FAQs and tips for making this creamy spaghetti carbonara recipe!
What is carbonara?
Carbonara, also popularly known as spaghetti carbonara, is an Italian pasta dish that started in Rome during WWII. The dish consists of, pasta, although the most commonly used is spaghetti, eggs, a hard cheese of some sort, and cracked black pepper.
How is carbonara sauce made?
It's super, duper easy to make carbonara sauce, and it only needs 4 ingredients.
- In a pan over medium high heat, cook and render bacon until the bacon is just crispy. Keep this warm on the side.
- Next, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until completely blended. Then, add the grated cheese and cracked black pepper and mix to combine.
- Once the pasta is just cooked, reheat the bacon and bacon fat on medium high heat. Fish out the cooked pasta with tongs, straight into the heating bacon fat. Toss until coated and transfer into the egg and cheese mixture.
- Immediately start stirring and tossing the pasta until the sauce is creamy. If the carbonara is too thick, add a little more pasta water to thin out the sauce.
What kind of cured pork do I use to make carbonara?
Traditionally, pancetta and guanciale are the most popular cured pork products used to make carbonara. Pancetta is basically an Italian style cured pork belly, and guanciale is an Italian style cured pork jowl or cheek. Both are phenomenal for making carbonara if you can get your hands on some. However, if you're on a budget or if they're not available in your area, you can still enjoy some good spaghetti carbonara!
We recommend thick cut bacon if you can't get any pancetta or guanciale. Bacon's much more readily available, and if you're like us, you probably already have some on hand.
What does carbonara taste like?
Carbonara is a balanced, yet rich pasta dish. It should taste creamy but not too heavy. The sauce should also be just salted enough by the cheese and the bacon. Classically, garlic is not part of the dish, but every so often we'd add some when we render our bacon. It's totally up to your preference if you want to incorporate some garlic flavor. We just thought it tasted really good!
What kind of cheese can I use for carbonara?
Generally, any kind of hard Italian cheese will do for carbonara. Our recommendation is to use either parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Pecorino Reggiano.
The cheese you want to avoid, are the pre-grated parmesans because they contain artificial flavorings and anti-caking fillers. Those parmesans will not melt properly and will likely cause your carbonara to become clunky and have a not very smooth sauce.
Is there cream in spaghetti carbonara?
No. If spaghetti carbonara, or any carbonara, is made properly, it will not need the addition of cream. The eggs, cheese, and sometimes the addition of a little pasta water is all that's needed to make the sauce smooth and creamy.
What kind of pasta should I use for carbonara?
Traditionally, spaghetti is the most popular pasta for carbonara. However, you can really use any pasta you want. We've seen carbonara made with linguine, fettuccini, bucatini, and even rigatoni.
Is carbonara safe to eat?
It is not recommend to serve carbonara pasta to children and elderlies because the eggs have to stay creamy and undercooked. In order for eggs to be completely cooked and safe to eat, the eggs have to reach 160F, which will scramble the eggs.
How do I prevent my spaghetti carbonara from scrambling?
To solve this scrambled egg conundrum, we recommend not cooking the spaghetti and carbonara's custard sauce over heat. The creamy carbonara sauce will be made by adding hot, just cooked pasta with hot bacon fat straight into the egg and cheese mixture. This will heat the sauce enough to turn it creamy and melt the cheese. Make sure to start stirring the pasta immediately when added to the egg and cheese mixture to distribute the heat and not scramble the eggs that's in contact with the pasta.
Can carbonara be reheated?
Yes, you can reheat carbonara, however, it is not recommend. Carbonara is best eaten the day of because it tends to scramble and clump up when reheated. But don't waste the leftovers! It'll still taste just as good, just not as silky smooth as day one.
If you're looking for other noodle recipes, you may like these:
- Gluten Free Pea & Kale Pesto Pasta
- Beet Gnocchi with Crispy Prosciuttos and Spiced Walnuts
- Fresh Homemade Ramen Noodles
- Japchae: Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry
Cook with love!
If you’ve made this recipe or any recipe from our blog, please tag us on Instagram @two_plaid_aprons! We would love to see your creations! It absolutely makes our day! 🥰
Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
- 1 pound spaghetti pasta
- 4 large egg
- 1 cup grated parmesan , packed (must be freshly grated; you can also use pecorino/ any hard Italian cheese)
- 8 ounce thick cut bacon , diced (or pancetta or guanciale)
- 4 cloves garlic , minced (optional)
- Cracked black pepper , to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the spaghetti noodles to package instruction, usually 8-12 minutes until al-dente. *If you like, you can salt the pasta water to season the spaghetti, but do not over salt because the carbonara sauce will be salted by the cheese and cured pork.*
- While the spaghetti is boiling, heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add the diced bacon and cook the bacon until just crispy and the fat is mostly rendered. When the bacon is almost done cooking, add the minced garlic* and cook until aromatic. Reduce to the heat to low and keep the bacon and bacon fat warm until needed.*Garlic is not used in classic carbonara, but it tastes really good in it. Feel free to leave it out and keep it classic.*
- In a large mixing bowl, vigorously whisk together the 4 eggs until completely blended. Add the grated cheese and a generous amount of cracked black pepper. Whisk everything together until combined. Set aside until needed.*You can go light on the black pepper for now if preferred because it's really up to everyone's taste preference. Everyone can crack more black pepper on the carbonara when served.*
- Once the spaghetti is cooked to al-dente, place the bacon and bacon fat back on medium high heat. Using a tong, fish out the spaghetti and place the pasta into the hot bacon and bacon fat. Reserve some pasta water and toss the pasta a few times in bacon fat to get coated.
- Transfer the hot spaghetti with the bacon to the egg and cheese mixture and immediately start stirring. Stir and toss the spaghetti until the cheese is melted and the eggs form a nice, creamy sauce. If the carbonara looks a little thick, you can thin out the sauce by adding small amounts of hot pasta water and tossing the carbonara again.
- Portion the carbonara, garnish with more grated cheese, add a few more cracks of black pepper, and enjoy!
- The alternative way to prepare spaghetti carbonara is to do everything as the recipe, except, separate the egg whites from the yolks. You will save the yolk for garnish.
- After tossing the carbonara and portioning the pasta (try to shape the pasta like a nest by twirling a fork or tong), add the reserved egg yolk on top of each nests of carbonara as part of the garnish. The yolk will be popped and incorporated into the carbonara for extra creaminess at the table. So, make sure to serve the carbonara as hot as possible.