Pasta carbonara is a tasty dish Italian pasta recipe that requires very few ingredients and is quick to make. The creamy sauce for the carbonara is made up of egg yolks and pasta water and it's flavor comes from the pancetta (Italian bacon). This Italian carbonara is creamy and delicious and makes the perfect quick weeknight dinner.
About this recipe:
Pasta carbonara is a creamy simple and delicious Italian meal that comes together in the time it takes to boil your pasta water. The trick to getting a super creamy carbonara is to reserve ample amounts of pasta water that you will mix into the egg yolks to make the sauce.
All of the flavor for this Italian carbonara comes from the pancetta which is cooked down until crispy and it renders all of its delicious juices and flavors.
If you are not familiar with pancetta, it is an Italian bacon and full of spices. It is really delicious.
When I make carbonara, I like to make a side of roasted cauliflower to go over the top but that is completely optional and can be omitted if you prefer.
Here are what the steps look like when making this delicious pasta carbonara recipe:
The very first thing that you want to do is to saute your pancetta (or guanciale if you are using that.) It should be nice and crisp and the fat rendered out which is going to give your pasta so much flavor. If you have made my pasta with pancetta with mushrooms, it is similar to that.
Next, you will gather all of your other ingredients and have them ready and set aside waiting for the cooked pasta. Adding the pasta is the very last step in this dish and the heat from the pasta will warm all the ingredients up before serving.
As you can see in the picture above, I have all of my ingredients ready for the cooked pasta. My pancetta is crisped up, my egg yolks are in their bowl waiting to be tempered (I will explain in a second what that is) and my cheese grated.
Tempering your eggs:
When you are tempering your eggs, what you are doing is adding a little hot water to the eggs while you whisk them so that your eggs warm up to the temperature of the food it is going into. If you do not do this step, you will have curdled eggs.
I use pasta water to temper the eggs for the carbonara. The pasta water is starchy and that starch is going to add to the creaminess of the pasta.
The more you make this dish the better you get at mastering it. You start to know just how much pasta water to use in the end or how quickly you need to move during the tossing of the pasta. Just make it and keep making it!
Now because the dish traditionally has no vegetables, I would usually serve one on the side. But why do that when you can add one to the dish itself!
Enter the cauliflower :
Cauliflower is perfect for this recipe since it is so mild flavored and it will not compete with the delicate flavors of the carbonara. It also in my opinion makes it a bit more filling and hearty and I feel better about not just eating a whole plate of pasta.
I like to roast my vegetables in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper and then add it in at the very end. This makes sure they do not suck up too much of the olive oil pancetta mixture that goes into the pasta.
If you have never made a pasta carbonara you must give it a try! It is so good!
My carbonara pro-tip:
When you cook your pasta, do not use as much water as you normally would when making pasta. I like to fill my pasta pot only ¾ of the way up when making carbonara because it makes the pasta water more starchy. That starchy water helps make your carbonara extra creamy!
So you like Pasta? You will love these recipes too!
- Pasta Genovese
- Spaghetti with Pork Bolognese
- Pasta with Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce
- Pasta with Pancetta and Mushrooms
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
- Sicilian Sunday Sauce
Tried the Recipe? We Would Love To Hear From You In The Comments Below!
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 4 ounces cubed pancetta (or guanciale) I find this in the specialty cheese section of my grocery store or cubed regular bacon
- 1 cup of Parmesan cheese or Pecorini Romano, finely grated
- 5 egg yolks no whites
- 4 tablespoon of olive oil divided
- 1 head of cauliflower chopped into small florets optional for topping the carbonara
- salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
If making the cauliflower to top your carbonara
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degress.
- Add your chopped cauliflower to a large sheet pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoon of your olive oil and mix well.1 head of cauliflower chopped into small florets
- Season with a pinch of salt and roast your cauliflower in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned on edges. When done, remove from oven and set aside. It should be done just before your carbonara is ready so it will stay warm.
- Fill a pasta pot with water and bring to a boil for your pasta. I like to only fill my pot ¾ of the way up to have extra starchy water from the pasta cooking. This will help your dish later!
- While you wait for your pasta water to come to a boil, in a large saute pan, add your remaining 2 tablespoon of olive oil and your pancetta and cook until the pancetta starts to lightly brown.4 ounces cubed pancetta (or guanciale), 4 tablespoon of olive oil
- Once your pancetta is finished cooking, remove it from the pan (along with the olive oil it cooked in) into a large bowl and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add your egg yolks along with a pinch of salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper (1 tbsp).5 egg yolks, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
- Set aside for now.
- Now, your pasta water should be boiling, salt it well and add your spaghetti stirring so it does not stick.1 lb spaghetti
- Cook until al dente according to the instructions on your pasta box.
- Now take about ¼ cup of that water out and bring it over to your egg yolk mixture.
- Slowly whisk in that hot pasta water to lightly temper your egg yolks so they do not curdle later when added to your hot pasta.
- Now, scoop out another ¼ of your pasta water (in case you need it later) and drain your pasta.
- Here is where you need to work fast!
- Pour your hot pasta into your large bowl with the garlic and pancetta and quickly pour your egg mixture over the pasta and toss well.
- Toss for a few seconds letting the pasta drink up the sauce.
- Add ½ your Parmesan and toss again well.1 cup of Parmesan cheese
- Now assess if you carbonara looks dry. It should look creamy.
- If the pasta seems too dry, add a little of that reserved pasta water and toss it again.
- Plate into individual bowls with your pasta (top with your roasted cauliflower if you made it) and add a sprinkle of Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here