Ahhh….pasta carbonara. So few ingredients yet a rich, incredible dish that every pasta lover should have in their recipe arsenal. I’ve had this post written for a long time but getting the photos has been another story. I can promise you that making this is WAY easier than documenting it, mostly because it’s so delicious that whenever I make it we just want to dig right in and eat it – it’s definitely a pasta dish best when served fresh.
pasta carbonara recipe
- 1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti (I prefer De Cecco) + 1 teaspoon of kosher salt for cooking pasta
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus an additional 1/4 cup for serving
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces pancetta, cubed or sliced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
A couple of notes before you start:
- Start your pasta cooking, have your egg & cheese mixture mixed together, your garlic minced and your parsley chopped before you start, then you’re not rushing or pressured when the dish is ready to put together.
- One of the keys to a carbonara sauce is cooking the sauce while the pasta cooks. This ensures that the pasta will be hot and ready to toss with your sauce when you need to. This will also ensure that the eggs cook just a bit, which accomplishes two things – not eating raw eggs and making a creamy sauce that clings to your pasta.
- Instead of draining my pasta, I use tongs to scoop it out and toss it right in with the garlic pancetta mixture. This may be a little messier but it’s faster and ensures I have reserved hot pasta water when I need it.
- In a small bowl, blend your eggs and cheese together well using a fork or whisk
- Bring your pasta water to a boil, add salt and pasta and stir well. Bring back to a boil and cook for 10 minutes or according to directions on package, while completing the steps below.
- In the meantime, once the pasta has been cooking for about 3-4 minutes, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add pancetta and cook until fat is rendered and the pancetta begins to crisp up, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and stir constantly over heat, about 2 more minutes.
- Shut the heat off of the pasta if needed, while you complete the sauce.
- Using tongs, pull pasta directly out of the water and toss into the pancetta garlic mixture, tossing it all together.
- Quickly add the egg and cheese mixture, tossing well again.
- Using a ladle or measuring cup, add about 1/4 cup of hot pasta water to the cooked pasta mixture and keep tossing.
- If needed, add more water in 1/4 cup increments until creamy sauce forms. You may end up adding close to a cup of water. Toss well after each addition.
- When you have a creamy sauce, plate pasta immediately, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, additional Parmesan, and chopped parsley.
- Serve and enjoy!
This dish is really all about timing because obviously, there aren’t a lot of ingredients involved. Again, having everything chopped, mixed and as prepared ahead of time as possible makes this much easier to throw together.
Invest in the best cheese you can for this, as it’s really the star of the dish.
Once you have this down, you’ll find yourself making it pretty often. It’s a perfect pasta dish for an easy weeknight dinner, a romantic dinner for two or a dinner party with friends or family.
Want to make carbonara with bacon instead? Go for it! I’ve done it and it’s delicious. I’ve also tossed roasted, chopped asparagus into this and it’s divine. Don’t limit yourself – you can use this as a base for all kinds of ideas.