Classic Creamy Carbonara with Pancetta

Last modified on March 22nd, 2019 at 12:43 am

With just a few quality ingredients, our Classic Creamy Carbonara is simple, elegant and guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in pure bliss with every bite.

When it comes to traditional Italian pastas, it seems the simplest and ones with the fewest ingredients are often the most delicious and beautiful. Pomodoro pastas are made using tomatoes and basil, Puttanesca uses tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic and anchovies, Cacio e Pepe is just cheese and pepper, and our favourite, Creamy Carbonara is made using just eggs, pecorino Romano, cured pork and pepper.

Plate of spaghetti carbonara with a fork

When you travel to Italy and really taking in the food culture, you notice the appreciation for simple and beautiful ingredients and meals. These simple dishes are the ones where you get the best tomatoes. You use fresh herbs instead of dried, and get the real cheese as opposed to the stuff you sprinkle on. When you use the best, you will get amazing results. It forces you to slow down and truly appreciate the food you are eating.

Ingredients for a classic spaghetti carbonara

If there was one dish to sum up my experience in Italy this past May, it’s Creamy Carbonara. In between gelato, cannoli and all the americanos, this simple and elegant dish consisting of bacon, eggs and pasta was literally my food version of a summer romance. Every menu, every restaurant in Rome, if Carbonara was on the menu, it was being ordered.

“Just a handful of ingredients makes a fantastic carbonara and, done properly, it’s a thing of beauty. ” – Jamie Oliver

Reminiscing on my love affair, Carbonara is a pasta dish consisting of eggs,  bacon (pancetta or guanciale), pecorino cheese, black pepper and pasta, and has climbed the charts as my favourite Italian dish. While made with simple ingredients, the elegance of this dish is all in the technique.

Presenting the finished classic carbonara
Two plates of spaghetti carbonara with garlic cloves

How to Make Creamy Carbonara

Boil Water for the Spaghetti

Get a large pot of water and salt it heavily. If you taste the water, it should taste like the sea. Bring the water to a boil and toss in the pasta. Cook until it’s tender but still a little firm to the bite. This is what Italian’s call al dente.

How to Cook the Pancetta

Place cubed pancetta or guanciale in a large skillet with a clove of garlic and cook on medium heat. Start with a cold pan so that the fat renders out slowly, resulting in a tender chew. Cook the meat until it is browned but not crispy. It should take about 4-5 minutes for guanciale or 5-7 minutes for pancetta. Remove and discard the garlic, then add the black pepper.

Prepare the Eggs to Make Carbonara

While the pork is cooking, get a small bowl, crack the eggs into it, add a handful of grated pecorino Romano and beat them until well combined.

Add the Spaghetti

Once the pork is cooked, reserve about a half cup of the pasta water, drain the spaghetti and toss into the skillet with the pancetta. Stir the spaghetti until it begins to soak up the pancetta fat then add a good splash of the pasta water.

Creating the Carbonara Sauce

While stirring and tossing the pasta, pour in the eggs. Keep tossing, incorporating the eggs into the water until it forms a creamy and glossy sauce around the spaghetti. You can add a couple more splashes of water as necessary. Serve with an additional sprinkling of pecorino and a few twists of black pepper.

A plate of half eaten spaghetti carbonara

Helpful Tools and Ingredients to Make Carbonara

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Classic Creamy Carbonara with Pancetta

Two plates of spaghetti carbonara

With just a few quality ingredients and taking about 20 minutes to make, our Classic Creamy Carbonara is simple, elegant and guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in pure bliss with every bite. It’s the perfect dinner for after work or when you need a quick meal on the weekends.

  • Author: Chef Sous Chef
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Food and Drink, Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh or dry spaghetti
  • 200g pancetta diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, skin in tact and smashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 75g pecorino romano, grated
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

No. 1 | Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). Do not drain the pasta.

No. 2 | In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and three quarters of the grated pecorino.

No. 3 | Place the pancetta and garlic clove in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring every minute, until the pancetta has browned, but not crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic, then add the black pepper.

No. 4 | Reserving about a half cup of the pasta water, drain the spaghetti and add it to the pancetta. Toss until the spaghetti is coated with the pancetta fat. Remove from heat and add about a ⅓ cup of the pasta water.

No. 5 | While stirring and tossing the pasta, pour in the eggs, continuing to toss until the spaghetti is well coated and glossy. Add additional pasta water if necessary, to get a creamy consistency.

No. 6 | To serve, use tongs to pick up a good serving of pasta. Place the tongs on a large spoon and twist to wrap them in the spaghetti. Place the spaghetti on a plate while twisting and slowly release the tongs, leaving a serving that resembles a bird’s nest. Sprinkle with additional pecorino Romano and black pepper.

Notes

Traditionally, carbonara would be made with guanciale, which can be found in many butchers and Italian grocers. We have used pancetta as it is easy to find in most grocery stores.

Keywords: Easy pasta recipes, carbonara recipe, carbonara

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Kerry A
    September 18, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Carbonara is my favorite pasta! I love the simplicity of this recipe. Making it tonight.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      September 18, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Kerry. We couldn’t agree more 😉

  • Reply
    sheenam | thetwincookingproject.net
    September 25, 2018 at 12:11 am

    This pasta looks so good. Your pictures are so beautiful! Trying this recipe super soon.

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      September 25, 2018 at 8:31 am

      Thanks so much Sheenam! Let us know what you think once you make the recipe 😊

  • Reply
    Marisa
    February 26, 2019 at 10:08 am

    How glorious and gorgeous this simple pasta dish is. It’s simplicity at its best, both pleasing to eye and taste buds. Wishing I could have a taste…!

  • Reply
    Jesisca
    February 26, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Divine! Carbonara is our fav pasta to make for an at-home date night so I’ll be sure to try out your recipe!

    • Reply
      Chef Sous Chef
      February 26, 2019 at 11:50 am

      It’s become our go-to date night recipe too!

  • Reply
    Dawn - Girl Heart Food
    February 26, 2019 at 11:43 am

    One of my absolute favourites is carbonara! I mean, seriously, there is no going wrong!! And now I’m craving. Looks SO good, you guys!

  • Reply
    Bernice Hill
    February 26, 2019 at 11:51 am

    What a lovely series of photos…they really make me want to grab a fork and dig right in! Thank you for such a wonderful, authentic post. I always think it’s so odd that so many people ask for cream or over complicate this dish, it’s supposed to be super simple just like you have made it!

  • Reply
    Justine
    February 26, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I just discovered your blog after you left a comment on my latest recipe and it’s beyond stunning. Keep up the fantastic work!

  • Reply
    Meg
    February 27, 2019 at 1:05 am

    Oh my gosh! This carbonara looks INSANE. I love how simple you make it sound. I will be sure to try this as soon as I get my hands on some fresh pancetta. Thanks Phil!

  • Reply
    Leslie
    February 27, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Carbonara is so magical, isn’t it? When I worked in Italy, we used to make carbonara as a staff meal because it’s so simple once you’ve got the right ingredients and technique down. Your photos are dreamy, as always! Brava!

  • Reply
    marilyn @family food around the clock
    February 27, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    love the recipe and the video! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Dana
    February 27, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    YES. Honestly, one of my favorite things about Italian cuisine is the appreciate for simple, and demonstrating that simple is beautiful. This recipe is such a great way to illustrate that. I absolutely love this.

  • Reply
    Katie
    April 15, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Can’t wait to make this for date night tonight!

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