Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara is essentially bacon and egg pasta. An easy, rich and creamy pasta dish that has no cream, the creaminess comes from eggs and Parmesan cheese.
A childhood friend of mine (who now lives in Perth, Australia) that I haven’t seen since we were about 7 or 8 years old in England came to California on vacation, I couldn’t have been more excited. We had a fantastic night out with our husbands and there just wasn’t enough time to catch-up.
While they were in Las Vegas, she sent me a message asking if I had a great recipe for carbonara because her husband had the dish at a restaurant and wasn’t happy with it and she wants to make it for him when they get back home to Australia.
There is no cream in traditional spaghetti carbonara
I’ve made carbonara for my husband and myself this way for many years and wanted to see if the recipe I used was traditional. After doing some research I found that my recipe was pretty close to authentic in that no garlic is used.
What I also found out in my research (and already knew) is that there is no cream in the carbonara sauce. The secret to getting an extra creamy sauce is using egg yolks as well as a whole egg.
To make this easy carbonara dish really authentic, guanciale (pronounced gwan cha lay) is typically used. Guanciale is the jowl of the pig but not everyone can find this, so the next best thing is pancetta or thick-cut bacon if pancetta is not available to you.
When I was testing this recipe, I mixed equal amounts of parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese in with the eggs. I found this to make the dish way too salty because the Pecorino is very rich and fairly salty, so the perfect balance is using all parmesan in the sauce and keep the rich Pecorino for grating on the finished dish. If you’re not a fan of Pecorino, you can leave it out all together.
If you’ve tried this Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it turned out in the comments below. I love to hear from my readers!
An easy, rich and creamy pasta dish that has no cream, the creaminess comes from eggs and Parmesan cheese.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time11 minutes
Total Time21 minutes
8 ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup extra for garnish
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces pancetta, cut into cubes * see note
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, enough so it tastes like sea water. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions.
While spaghetti is cooking, add the egg yolks and egg to a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the parmesan cheese to the eggs and mix. Set aside.
Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until crisp, turn off the heat and set aside.
When the spaghetti is cooked, reserve 1 cup of the liquid and drain.
Add the spaghetti to the pancetta and toss with half of the reserved pasta water, mix well over low heat.
Turn off the heat and add the egg mixture and mix well using tongs until the spaghetti is coated and sauce is creamy. If the sauce is too thick, add a little of the reserved water until the desired consistency is achieved.
Serve warm topped with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
* Note: If you can't get pancetta, you can use thick cut bacon