Authentic Pasta Carbonara Recipe: Italy’s Best-Kept Secret

Authentic Pasta Carbonara recipe

Authentic Pasta Carbonara recipe is a traditional Italian dish known all over the world and made with only 4 ingredients plus black pepper to taste: pasta, eggs, Guanciale, and Pecorino cheese.


Spaghetti Carbonara, also known simply as Pasta Carbonara, is a classic starter from Roman cuisine enjoyed globally. With only five key ingredients – pasta, eggs, guanciale, pecorino cheese, and black pepper – it delivers big flavor.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking – that authentic Carbonara has cream or butter in it. But let me set the record straight – the real deal does NOT contain any heavy cream, butter, onions, garlic or Parmesan cheese. No, just those five basic ingredients I mentioned.

Carbonara: An Iconic Roman Pasta Dish

The origins of Carbonara are believed to date back to World War II. With supplies running low in Rome, local cooks came up with this dish using ingredients that American soldiers had available at the time. Although simple, it packs a ton of flavor into every bite.

Like many traditional Italian recipes, there are regional variations. But I’m going to share with you the most authentic version – it’s super quick and easy to make at home with just a few staples in your pantry. Get ready to enjoy some classic Italian comfort food!

The Secrets to Perfect Pasta Carbonara

It may seem simple but there are a few tricks you need to know to keep those eggs creamy instead of scrambled. Let me tell you how it’s done.:

  • Use high-quality dried pasta, ideally bronze die cut, that retains texture after cooking.
  • Use excellent Guanciale, an Italian cured pork jowl, is ideal for its rich flavor, but substituting bacon is suitable when guanciale is unavailable.
  • Use Romano Pecorino cheese. Grated pecorino Romano lends the signature sharp, salty taste.
  • Reserve some starchy pasta cooking water, which when added to the cheese-egg mixture creates a velvety sauce perfectly coating each strand.

This classic Roman pasta sauce is creamy yet light, featuring cured pork, eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, and plenty of black pepper. By adhering to time-honored techniques, your carbonara will taste as exceptional as the finest restaurants in Italy, with tender pasta coated in a rich, eggy blend that clings without being heavy or greasy. Whether you’re an experienced home cook seeking an effortless weeknight meal or just learning Italian cuisine, this recipe will become part of your repertoire—a surefire way to satisfy any craving for the comforts of the table in the Eternal City.

Traditional Carbonara Pasta Video Tutorial

Ingredients for Authentic Pasta Carbonara

A perfect Italian-style Pasta Carbonara requires ONLY 4 ingredients, plus salt and pepper:

  • Spaghetti or another type of pasta of your choice
  • Guanciale – Pork cheek (if you can’t find it, you can use bacon)
  • Egg yolks
  • Romano Pecorino cheese
  • Black pepper + Salt

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How to Make Pasta Carbonara

Follow this time-tested recipe for Traditional Italian Pasta Carbonara step-by-step to easily prepare a perfect dish at home in just 15 minutes.

How to make the authentic Pasta Carbonara

Cook Pasta – Place a large pot of water on the stove. Heat over medium heat until boiling. When the water boils, add a tablespoon of coarse salt (or according to the instructions on the pasta package). Wait a minute for the salt to dissolve, then add the spaghetti. Reduce the heat slightly so that the water boils but does not leave the pot. Stir the spaghetti from time to time during cooking to cook them evenly.

Cook Guanciale – Meanwhile, cut the Guanciale into 1 cm squares., heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place the Guanciale in the skillet. Cook the Guanciale, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it is soft and releases all the fat. Guanciale should not be fried too much, so as not to harden. This will take about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the Guanciale to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.

How to make the authentic Pasta Carbonara

Prepare the egg cream – Mix egg yolks with Pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of the cooking water to the eggs, stirring constantly to avoid the scrambled eggs effect. This procedure will keep you from getting the “scrambled egg effect” when mixing egg sauce with hot spaghetti.

Combine 4–5 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the pan in which Guanciale was cooked. Prepare pasta “al dente” according to package instructions.

Drain spaghetti directly into the hot skillet. Sauté spaghetti with Guanciale fat for 1 minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add cooked Guanciale and sauté 1 minute more.

Turn off the heat. Wait 1 minute, then pour the egg cream over the spaghetti and stir. Now pay attention to consistency. The perfect Carbonara should be creamy. If your carbonara is too sticky and dense, add 1–2 tablespoons of cooking water and mix well. If it is too runny, you can add some grated pecorino cheese.

Serve Best Pasta Carbonara Ever!

The authentic pasta carbonara is done! Transfer the pasta carbonara to serving plates or bowls. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, if desired. It is best to serve pasta carbonara immediately while it is still hot and creamy.

Pasta Carbonara Storage Instructions

Now, freshly made pasta carbonara is best served hot, right after cooking. The creaminess that comes from the egg yolks mixed with the hot pasta is simply sublime. However, I know that sometimes there may be leftovers. Fear not! Those leftovers can still be enjoyed with a little know-how.

To store any uneaten carbonara, place it in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. This will keep it fresh until the following day. When you’re ready to eat those leftovers, preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour the chilled carbonara into the hot skillet. Allow it to warm through, stirring frequently, until it is hot all the way through.

NOTE – Take note that reheated carbonara won’t have the same velvety texture as the original fresh-from-the-pan version. The eggs will have set more during refrigeration and lose some of their creaminess.

Authentic Pasta Carbonara recipe

More Pasta Recipes

If you enjoyed this Carbonara Pasta recipe, you are sure to find more favorites in this list. From one pasta lover to another, these top-rated pasta recipes are a must-try:

Authentic Pasta Carbonara recipe

Authentic Pasta Carbonara recipe

The authentic pasta carbonara recipe has only 5 ingredients: pasta, eggs, guanciale, pecorino and black pepper.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course First course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 160 g spaghetti or another pasta of your choice
  • 75 g Guanciale if you can’t find it, you can use bacon, cut into 1/2 cm thick slices, skinless
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 25 g grated Romano Pecorino cheese + more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated black pepper + more for garnish
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Cut the Guanciale into 1 cm squares.
  • Place a large pot of water on the stove. Heat over medium heat until boiling. When the water boils, add a tablespoon of coarse salt (or according to the instructions on the pasta package). Wait a minute for the salt to dissolve, then add the spaghetti. Reduce the heat slightly so that the water boils but does not leave the pot. Stir the spaghetti from time to time during cooking to cook them evenly.
  • While you cook the spaghetti, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place the Guanciale in the skillet. Cook the Guanciale, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it is soft and releases all the fat. Guanciale should not be fried too much, so as not to harden. This will take about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the Guanciale to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.
  • While the spaghetti is cooking, prepare the egg cream. Mix egg yolks with Pecorino cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of the cooking water to the eggs, stirring constantly to avoid the scrambled eggs effect. This procedure will keep you from getting the “scrambled egg effect” when mixing egg sauce with hot spaghetti.
  • Add 4–5 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the pan in which Guanciale was cooked. Prepare pasta “al dente” according to package instructions.
  • Drain spaghetti directly into the hot skillet. Sauté spaghetti with Guanciale fat for 1 minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add cooked Guanciale and sauté 1 minute more.
  • Turn off the heat. Wait 1 minute, then pour the egg cream over the spaghetti and stir. Now pay attention to the consistency. The perfect Carbonara should be creamy. If your carbonara is too sticky and dense, add 1-2 tablespoons of cooking water and mix well. If it is too runny, you can add some grated pecorino cheese.
  • Your authentic pasta carbonara is ready! Divide among 4 plates and sprinkle with more Pecorino cheese and ground black pepper. Serve immediately!

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