Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Don’t take this wrong, but for an Italian like me it’s really a pain to see how mistreated is the spaghetti Carbonara recipe all around the web.

I mean, spaghetti carbonara is a luscious, four ingredients recipe which is almost pornographic in its goodness.


Nevertheless, even some international superstar chefs everybody follows get it wrong! Yes, I know, I might be slightly melodramatic, but let me ask you a question. What if somebody took your grandma’s best recipe and started giving it all around, completely messed up, passing it off for her best recipe? I bet you won’t be happy.

This is because we emotionally link a recipe to a certain place or person, and it marks our identity, or the identity of our family, group or country.

When my Belgian friends claim you can easily make a Carbonara with cream or onion, they don’ t understand why I get mad. What they don’t get is that I don’t reject the idea of pasta with onions or cream. On the contrary, I looove cream in pasta, I have tons of recipes that include it (you’ll see!). What I can’t accept is the concept of calling it “carbonara“. I always ask them, If I put wine instead of beer in the carbonnade flamande, is it the same? Of course not, they all say, shaking their head in disapproval. Because food, exactly like language, is part of who we are.

Let’s save the real carbonara!

A big problem of carbonara is the spread of distorted recipes by well-known websites with a lot of following, which dramatically increases the possibility to make it wrong. Believe me, there are tons of recipes that you can change and modify to your personal taste, but some things are just perfect and need to be preserved. Would you help me doing that?

spaghetti carbonara recipe

I also assure you that it will be a win-win, because you’ll learn how to make a perfect carbonara with fewer ingredients, less fat – no cream neither butter is required in the real carbonara recipe – and following some easy steps you’ll become an expert! Tell me, is there any better satisfaction than being aware YOUR carbonara recipe is better than Nigella‘s ? I am sure her recipe is awesome, but it’ s not exactly a carbonara.

Let’s do some brainstorming…

Ingredients NOT to be used in the authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe:

Garlic – a pretty strong flavour characterizes this recipe, due to the presence of guanciale (or pancetta, in alternative) and pecorino. You don’t need to exaggerate adding unnecessary garlic.

Onion – completely out of place because of its sweetness, the poor onion would not be very happy to be swallowed by the guanciale ‘s fat.

Butter – pancetta or guanciale are fat enough to make butter total unnecessary. Next!

Cream – no way, no no no. Never, ever add cream to spaghetti carbonara. We are such good chefs we can correctly prepare eggs to provide the perfect degree of creaminess to our pasta. You, I saw you…put that cream away!

Mushrooms – they just dont exist in this recipe, poor mushrooms, people just don’t understand when they want to be left alone.

Parsley, chives, peas, ham – simply do not add any of these to the recipe and we’d better save them for an occasion in which they’ll give their best.

spaghetti carbonara recipe


Guanciale and pecorino, two real gems

Contrarily to the main belief, the authentic spaghetti carbonara requires the use of guanciale – the pork cheek – and not of pancetta, the pork belly. Now, I am well aware guanciale is very difficult to find and the same goes for pecorino romano; it would not be fair to give up to the pleasure of a good carbonara just for this. Go ahead with pancetta or bacon and parmesan in that case. The outcome is not the same but you’ll be able to taste the most similar version! My advice is to do as the romans do of course – even if you’re not in Rome – and use the original ingredients if you can. It is really worth it! You’ll never forget you first real carbonara, it will seriously make you moan in pleasure.

If you are curious about the origins of this dish, you can find a short story here.

For more spaghetti, click here.


Ingredients (2 servings)

200 gr (a little less than 1/2 pound) dried spaghetti
50 gr (2 oz) guanciale, diced or sliced in small strips – pancetta in alternative
1 egg + 2 yolks
50 gr (1/2 cup) pecorino romano, grated
tsbp coarse salt (for the cooking water)
Freshly ground black pepper
 spaghetti carbonara recipe


 In a large pot, bring abundant and generously salted water – we say it should taste like the sea – to a boil.
Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente (tender yet firm). Drain it, but remember to reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water, as you might need it later.
While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced guanciale and sauté for around 3 minutes, or until it is lucid and crispy and all the fat is rendered. Turn off the heat.
spaghetti carbonara recipe
In a bowl, beat the egg and the yolks with pecorino and a drizzle of pepper, stirring to prevent lumps.
Add the drained spaghetti to the skillet with guanciale and toss for a minute or so over medium heat.
spaghetti carbonara recipe
Transfer into the bowl with the eggs/pecorino mixture, stirring until the egg sauce thickens. The heat will cook the eggs. This passage must absolutely happen off the heat to avoid the horrible scrambled eggs effect. If you find the consistency too thick, now it’s time to add a little bit of the cooking water you previously saved. On the contrary, if the sauce is too liquid, add some other pecorino.
Season with some fresh ground black pepper and immediately serve in warm plates/bowls.
Pass Pecorino all over the table: one last sprinkle is much obliged :)

Authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe

: 2
: 10 min
: 10 min
: 20 min
: medium

The authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe, a simple Italian wonder.


  • 200 gr (a little less than 1/2 pound) dried spaghetti
  • 50 gr (2 oz) guanciale, diced or sliced in small strips - pancetta in alternative
  • 1 egg + 2 yolks
  • 50 gr (1/2 cup) pecorino romano, grated
  • 1 tsbp coarse salt (for the cooking water)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Step 1 In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.
  • Step 2 Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
  • Step 3 Reserve some cooking water and then drain it.
  • Step 4 While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Step 5 Add guanciale and sauté for around 3 minutes.Turn off the heat.
  • Step 6 In a bowl, beat the egg and the yolks with pecorino and a drizzle of pepper and stir.
  • Step 7 Add the drained spaghetti to the skillet with guanciale and toss for a minute or so over medium heat.
  • Step 8 Transfer into the bowl with the eggs/pecorino mixture, stirring until the egg sauce thickens.
  • Step 9 Add some cooking water if the sauce is too thick or pecorino if it’s too liquid.
  • Step 10 Season with some fresh ground black pepper and immediately serve in warm plates/bowls.

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22 thoughts on “Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe”

  • Linda I love your blog! I also love how you make carbonara the authentic way. I even go to Italian restaurants and they put cream in the carbonara 🙁 It’s great to see you sharing the real, classic recipe! Love it.

    • Ciao Pina, Thank you for your lovely comment!I really appreciate that! I think more people should get to know the real Italian cuisine, it’s so different from what you can find normally abroad. Here as well I saw cream in carbonara, it’s not fair for people who pay for that, isnt’it?
      ps. Your crostate are amazing!wish I could have a slice right now!:)

  • There is so much disinformation about Italian cookery on the web and in the media, it can be disheartening sometimes, especially when they take such a simple but delicious dish like carbonara and turn it into something it’s not. As you say, if you want to invent a new dish, fine—just find another name and enjoy! (Although frankly I find many of the pasta dishes that go by the name “carbonara” awful, no matter what name.)

    • Yes,I agree. Having a look at some websites really lets me down. There are many dishes that can be changed at one’s taste or are less codified (even if within certain “rules”), why tampering with an amazing recipe like carbonara? Some things should stay as they are, they are just perfect like this! And of course for people who look for information, sometimes it’s inevitable to get confused, above all when you consider your source as an authoritative one. Now, everytime I have a conversation about this I try to explain that it is not a matter of inflexibility, but of genuineness…

  • Thank you for this authentic recipe! It was so delicious, perfect and easy to make. I’m glad I found your blog!

    • Ciao Amanda! I am really glad you appreciated it, it’s always a pleasure for me to share my recipes with other food lovers 🙂 Hope you’ll find something else you might like!

  • A minute and 8 seconds of sheer ecstasy. Simple ingredients … I can actually smell the Guanciale and Romano. I can’t wait to try this recipe next weekend with some fresh home made pasta. I discovered cooking with Romano 5-6 years back and it has become a staple in my kitchen…. I still use Parmesan but not as much any more. Nothing better than a big chunk or Romano Lupa and some watermelon or a nice Amarone, it depends what time it is 🙂

    I am passionate of cooking and learned my recipes from my mother. Nothing greater than gathering around the table with good food and friends/family.

    Thank you thank you thank you so much for this recipe and simplicity of flavor. I plan to try more of your recipes. I will next check your eggplant recipes. I love fried eggplant with anything… oh ya.. fried peppers in crusty bread too…. oh oh.. tomato and basil brushchetta… mmmm… sorry.. I do get carried away talking food.

    Keep up the good work, I really appreciate your website.

    • Dave, what an amazing comment! Thank you so much for your words, it’s so good to hear from people like you that really appreciate this food culture and share the love for genuine ingredients! Lovely that your mom made you the gift ot teaching you her recipes…it’s the greatest legacy I believe. Me too I get many recipes from my mother!
      And you know, I also get carried away when I talk about food…but I mean, some things are so good you can’t really stop, do you? ROmano is a stable in my kitchen as well, its peculiar taste is so irresistible!
      Thank you again for your comment and the nice words, this motivates me a lot to keep going! Ciao Dave!

      • You understand…… Food is a culture and should be experienced and cherished and shared.

        Today I made Minestrone Soup with my home made tomatoes. I always start with onions frying in olive oil and any vegetable from my fridge. Many people say not to heat olive oil but not me. What is your opinion on frying with olive oil?

        I also made your Carbonara… Mmmmm.. delizioso…… Gracie Signorina Spaghetti, the taste of the cheese and guanciale. I was so surprised by the flavor of the eggs.

        Please when you have time post a recipe for your Minestrone Soup and please keep up your webpage. Ciao Linda, from Canada.

        • You are welcome Dave, I like to share the few things I know about food with the people who love it and are enthusiastic about it!
          I also fry in olive oil, you know, it mantains a better stability towards heat compared to other oil types and I find it healthier 🙂
          I will surely post a Minestrone soup recipe one of the following weeks ! It’s an amazing autumn and winter dish above all with good fresh seasonal veggies!

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