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Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe – Only 5 Ingredients Required!

If you are in search of a quick, easy, and delicious comfort food meal, you are going to love this Spaghetti Carbonara recipe. Spaghetti noodles tossed with a delicious creamy sauce made from eggs, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, with crispy bits of pork scattered throughout.

It is one of those meals that you can make on a busy weeknight because it comes together in minutes. Although it is also elegant enough to serve on a special occasion.

Best of all, it requires only 5 basic ingredients. The combination of the simple yet flavorful ingredients results in a rich and creamy dish that’s both comforting and satisfying.

spaghetti carbonara
Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara requires only 5 ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make.

Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is a traditional Italian pasta dish that was thought to have originated in Rome when the U.S. Army arrived during WWII. The theory of how this classic dish was made is somewhat unclear, however it is believed by many that American soldiers started taking their daily rations of powdered eggs and bacon to local restaurants where the cooks would combined them with pasta.

Regardless of how the recipe came about, it has evolved into a classic dish and is popular in Italy and across the globe. This creamy pasta is known as a classic comfort food but it also often gets served as a midnight snack because it is so quick and easy to make.

It is made by combining just a few simple ingredients: spaghetti pasta, guanciale (cured pork cheek), Pecorino Romano cheese, eggs, and black pepper.

Although there are several different versions of this classic recipe, it is important to note that traditional Spaghetti Carbonara doesn’t use cream, garlic, or onions. The creaminess of the sauce comes only from the combination of eggs and cheese, creating a rich and flavorful dish.

cheese on pasta
Even though the sauce is creamy, there is no cream sauce added to this recipe.

What You Need to Make Spaghetti Carbonara

1. Spaghetti Noodles – Most often dried spaghetti noodles are used, however you can use fresh pasta as well. Just be sure to adjust the cook time of fresh pasta, as it only takes a few minutes to cook.

2. Guanciale – Guanciale is the classic meat of choice when making this dish. However, because this isn’t a common ingredient found in many parts of the world, I have included some common substitutions below.

3. Eggs – To make the sauce you will need 3 eggs. Just be sure that the eggs are at room temperature before making the sauce.

4. Pecorino Romano Cheese – Pecorino Romano is known for its strong and salty flavor. It has a crumbly texture and can be grated or shaved, making it a popular choice for grating over pasta dishes like Spaghetti Carbonara. However you can use fresh grated Parmesan cheese as well.

5. Fresh Ground Black Pepper – The addition of fresh ground pepper is what gives this dish a little spice which compliments the creaminess of the sauce. In order to get the most flavor, be sure to use a pepper grinder to grind fresh peppercorns.

browned pork bits in skillet
Guanciale is the pork of choice, but there are some great substitutes that you can use.

What To Substitute For Guanciale

Guanciale is an Italian cured pork product that is made form the pork cheek or jowl. The word “guanciale” comes from the Italian word “guancia,” which means cheek.

The meat has a high fat content and a pronounced pork flavor compared to other cuts of cured pork. In addition, it is fattier and has a firmer, more chewy texture that pairs perfectly with the more delicate pasta in this Spaghetti Carbonara recipe.

However this cut of meat can be difficult to find depending on where you live. Therefore I have listed common substitutions below.

Pancetta:

  • Pancetta is one of the closest substitutes for guanciale. It is cured pork belly with a similar texture and a milder flavor. Use pancetta as a 1:1 substitute in recipes that call for guanciale.

Bacon:

  • Bacon is a readily available option that is also made from pork belly. However, it is typically smoked, so the flavor will be slightly different from guanciale. When using it as a substitute in Spaghetti Carbonara choose bacon that has a mild smoke profile.

Prosciutto:

  • Prosciutto is a dry-cured Italian ham, usually thinly sliced. While it has a different texture, it can add a similar salty element to the dish. However because it is usually sliced, you may need to add more to the dish to get that familiar taste and texture.
drained spaghetti noodles
Be sure not to rinse the pasta after it is cooked, as the starch will help the sauce stick to the noodles.

Recipe Tips For Making Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Prepare all ingredients before starting as this recipe comes together in minutes.
  • Be sure the eggs are at room temperature before whisking.
  • Cook the pasta until it is ‘al dente’ or tender yet still slighly firm.
  • Do not rinse the pasta, the starch helps the sauce stick to the noodles.
  • Add a little pasta water if needed to get a creamier sauce.
  • Although not traditionally used, you can mince 2 cloves of garlic in the skillet after you remove the pancetta and let it saute for 30 seconds and then add the cooked spaghetti noodles.

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta noodles, dried
  • 6 slices pancetta or guanciale or bacon, chopped
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Set aside.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al’ dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain well.

In a large skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Spaghetti Carbonara sauce
Be sure to use room temperature eggs to make the sauce.

Add the hot drained pasta to the skillet and toss to coat.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add in the egg mixture, mixing well with tongs. Adjust the consistency of the sauce by mixing in a little of the reserved pasta water if needed.

Add the pancetta to the pasta and toss to combine. Season with additional salt to taste.

Garnished each portion of Spaghetti Carbonara with chopped fresh parsley or additional shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.

Enjoy!

Mary and Jim

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Spaghetti Carbonara

spaghetti carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is a comforting Italian classic, featuring perfectly cooked pasta coated in a creamy sauce of eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and crispy bites of pork. An easy 5 ingredient recipe ready to eat in 30 minutes!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 slices pancetta or guanciale or bacon, chopped
  • 3 eggs. room temperature
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Set aside.

  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al' dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain well.

  3. In a large skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat until crisp. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  4. Add the hot drained pasta to the skillet and toss to coat.

  5. Remove the skillet from the heat and add in the egg mixture, mixing well with tongs. Adjust the consistency of the sauce by mixing in a little pasta water if needed.

  6. Add the pancetta to the pasta and toss to combine. Season with additional salt to taste.

    Garnished with chopped fresh parsley or additional shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.

Notes

RECIPE TIPS

  • Prepare all ingredients before starting as this recipe comes together in minutes.
  • Be sure the eggs are at room temperature before whisking.
  • Cook the pasta until it is ‘al dente’ or tender yet still slighly firm.
  • Do not rinse the pasta, the starch helps the sauce stick to the noodles
  • Add a little pasta water if needed to get a creamy sauce.
  • Although not traditionally used, you can mince 2 cloves of garlic in the skillet after you remove the pancetta and let it saute for 30 seconds and then add the cooked spaghetti noodles.

Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 619mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 17g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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