Pasta Carbonara

Tips and Variations

For a vegetarian version, substitute the guanciale or pancetta with sautéed mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes.
Add a splash of white wine to the egg and cheese mixture for extra flavor.
Experiment with different types of pasta shapes like rigatoni or fettuccine for a unique twist.

Introduction to Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara is a quintessential Roman dish that perfectly exemplifies the simplicity and indulgence of Italian cuisine. This beloved pasta dish combines al dente spaghetti with a rich and creamy sauce made from eggs, pecorino cheese, guanciale or pancetta, and a touch of black pepper.

The Origins of Pasta Carbonara

The precise origins of Pasta Carbonara are debated, with several theories proposing its creation in different regions of Italy. Some attribute it to the coal miners (carbonari) in the Apennine Mountains, who supposedly used their limited ingredients to create a hearty meal. Others suggest its roots in the Roman cucina povera (poor kitchen), where humble ingredients were transformed into delicious dishes.


  • 12 ounces (340g) spaghetti
  • 4 ounces (115g) guanciale or pancetta, diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (100g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste


Equipment Needed

Large pot for boiling pasta
Skillet or frying pan
Mixing bowls

Cooking Techniques

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions until al dente.
  • In a skillet or frying pan, cook the guanciale or pancetta over medium heat until crispy and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
  • Drain the cooked spaghetti, reserving some of the pasta water.
  • While the spaghetti is still hot, add it to the skillet with the cooked guanciale or pancetta. Toss the pasta with the crispy meat, allowing the residual heat to slightly cook the eggs.
  • Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and quickly toss until the sauce evenly coats the spaghetti. If needed, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water to create a creamy consistency.
  • Serve the Pasta Carbonara immediately, garnished with additional grated Pecorino Romano cheese and a sprinkle of black pepper.


Serving Suggestions

Pasta Carbonara is best enjoyed fresh and piping hot. Serve it as a main course with a simple side salad or crusty bread to complement the flavors. Pair it with a glass of Italian white wine or a light-bodied red wine.