Pasta Carbonara

Quick and easy Pasta Carbonara is a rich tangle of pasta topped with bacon! It’s creamy and stick to your ribs delicious.

When you’re craving a comfort food, nothing will cure you like creamy pasta carbonara. It’s rich and flavorful, made with nothing but a few pantry staples. For some more pasta deliciousness try Chicken Caprese Pasta Salad, Bruschetta Chicken and Pasta, or Best Ever Baked Ziti.

Pasta carbonara in a white bowl

What is Pasta Carbonara?

Pasta Carbonara is a pasta dish that originates from Rome and is filled with egg, hard cheese, cured pork, and black pepper.

Simple ingredients combine to create glossy, glorious pasta carbonara that will tame your homey craving. It’s the no-food-in-the-house dinner of our dreams!

Pasta is definitely a go to dinner in our house. It’s easy, quick, and you can make so may fabulous variations with just a few ingredients. I love that this one pulls in a bit of bacon. I mean really, who doesn’t love some bacon?!

Spaghetti noodles used for pasta carbonara recipe

Ingredient Tips

Pasta: The most common type of pasta to use is spaghetti, or another type of long and thin pasta like angel hair pasta. You will most likely not see short pastas such as shells, penne, or macaroni.

What kind of cheese? You should use an Italian hard cheese such as romano if you don’t want to use parmigiano reggiano. Please don’t try to use the pre-grated parmesan cheese in the green container—it will just clump up and not taste as great.

Eggs: It is important to note that there is some raw egg in pasta carbonara, although it is partially heated. The eggs are poured onto the hot pasta while the pan is still hot, but they aren’t completely cooked. If you let them cook too long, they will turn into scrambled eggs and not perform their function of being a binding agent.

  • Is it safe to eat? There is some raw egg in pasta carbonara, so it is not suggested that individuals who are susceptible to dangers from consuming any raw egg (pregnant or elderly individuals) eat this dish.
  • Make sure your eggs are at room temperature—this will help to make sure they don’t clump up as much.
  • Add your eggs right after taking the pasta off the heat, not while the pan is on the heat! Too much heat will ruin it.
  • Add your eggs slowly into the pasta, and make sure to adequately toss your noodles using tongs so that they are all equally coated.

Egg mixture for pasta carbonara sauce

How to Make Pasta Carbonara

BACON. In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the bacon and the water. Cook for 6 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for an additional 8 minutes. Drain bacon and transfer to a small bowl, reserving about 1 teaspoon of fat from the bacon in the pan.

ADD GARLIC. Return the pan to the heat and sauté the garlic. Add the garlic to the bowl with the bacon.

EGG MIXTURE. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, yolk, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

PASTA. Boil pasta according to the package’s directions. Set a colander in a large bowl. Drain the cooked pasta into colander, reserving the pasta water in the large bowl. Using a glass measuring cup, measure 1 cup of hot pasta water and discard the remaining water. Place pasta in the empty and hot large bowl.

COMBINE. Slowly pour and whisk 1/2 cup of the pasta water into egg mixture, then slowly pour mixture over pasta while using tongs toss to coat. Add bacon and garlic, toss to combine.

TOSS. Let pasta rest for 2 minutes, then toss. Repeat 2 more times. Thin with remaining reserved pasta water if needed.

SERVE. Serve immediately. Top with additional cheese and ground black pepper, if desired.

How to make pasta carbonara in a pot

Recipe FAQ – Variations + Storing

Make it creamy. It isn’t traditional to add heavy cream to your carbonara, but if you would like a creamier sauce you can. Mix it into the pasta as you mix in the eggs and cheese. Just note, the cream can overtake the flavor, and it won’t have the silky smooth sauce that the egg and cheese alone give this dish.

Add some chicken. Cook your bacon (remove it from the pan) and then cook your chicken in that bacon grease until it’s no longer pink. Add the chicken in the same time you add the bacon and garlic.

Storing/reheating/freezing? You can store leftover pasta in the fridge for 3-5 days, although this pasta typically doesn’t reheat very well. The sauce thickens up a lot in the fridge so you’ll have to probably add some more liquid when you reheat it. This can be in the form of milk or butter.

This dish also doesn’t freeze well because the noodles become very limp/weak and the egg sauce changes consistency.

I don’t recommend making pasta carbonara ahead of time. Everything has an exact timeline and it needs to be followed to a T in order for the recipe to work out. 

What to serve with it?

Close up of pasta carbonara in a white bowl

For more Italian pastas, try:

Pasta Carbonara Recipe

Quick and easy Pasta Carbonara is a rich tangle of pasta topped with bacon! It's creamy and stick to your ribs delicious.
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Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 8
Calories: 401kcal
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 slices bacon - cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 c water
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 1/3 c Parmesan cheese - grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a large skillet set over medium heat, add the bacon and the water. Cook for 6 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for an additional 8 minutes.
  • Drain bacon and transfer to a small bowl, reserving about 1 teaspoon of fat from the bacon in the pan. Return the pan to the heat and sauté the garlic.
  • Add the garlic to the bowl with the bacon.
  • In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, yolk, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
  • Boil pasta according to the package’s directions. Set a colander in a large bowl.
  • Drain the cooked pasta into colander, reserving the pasta water in the large bowl. Using a glass measuring cup, measure 1 cup of hot pasta water and discard the remaining water. Place pasta in the empty and hot large bowl.
  • Slowly pour and whisk 1/2 cup of the pasta water into egg mixture, then slowly pour mixture over pasta while using tongs toss to coat. Add bacon and garlic, toss to combine.
  • Let pasta rest for 2 minutes, then toss. Repeat 2 more times. Thin with remaining reserved pasta water if needed.
  • Serve immediately. Top with additional cheese and ground black pepper, if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 401kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 732mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 260IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 224mg | Iron: 1mg