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Carbonara Pasta

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overhead shot of a bowl of Carbonara Pasta topped with bacon bits, cheese, and parsley
This carbonara pasta is a tasty Italian meal that's quick and easy to make, complete with a creamy homemade white sauce.
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Table of Contents
  1. Carbonara Pasta Ingredients
  2. How To Make This Carbonara Pasta Recipe
  3. How To Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

Carbonara pasta is a classic Italian recipe that is surprisingly easy to make. This rich pasta has a creamy sauce made by mixing heavy cream and egg with noodles and topped with Romano cheese and crispy bacon.

If you’re looking for a couple more classic creamy pasta recipes, you have to give these a try! This copycat Olive Garden alfredo sauce is so flavorful and delicious, it’s perfect over any type of pasta. And this Instant Pot chicken alfredo is an easy way to make a satisfying pasta dish.

overhead shot of a bowl of Carbonara Pasta topped with bacon bits, cheese, and parsley

Carbonara Pasta Ingredients

Carbonara Pasta raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need: 

  • 3 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1¼ cups grated pecorino romano cheese, divided
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) box linguine pasta
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 1 to 1½ cups reserved starchy pasta water (from the cooked pasta)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

PRO TIP:

Using a high-quality cheese rather than any processed grated cheese in the shaker container for this recipe will give you the best results.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

PASTA: While traditional carbonara recipes are made with long pasta noodles, any style of noodles would work for this recipe. To stick with a longer noodle, you could also use spaghetti, bucatini, or angel hair pasta. I do not suggest a thicker noodle like fettuccine as it becomes too much noodle for this delicate sauce. 

CHEESE: This simple dish is traditionally made with pecorino romano cheese but a great substitute would be grated parmesan or a blend of the two kinds of cheese. I suggest getting freshly grated cheese because it will melt into your sauce much easier and smoother as the freshly grated cheeses typically do not have additives in the container to prevent clumping.

BACON: A thick-cut bacon would yield heartier bacon crumbles in your final dish if you choose it as a substitute. You can also substitute pancetta however, it is not smoked like bacon so you will not get that smoky taste in your final dish like the bacon will give.

I find that dicing the bacon prior to cooking gives you better, more consistent sized, bacon crumbles that cook more evenly and look nicer when served. You can always cook your bacon in long strips then crumble it after you have removed it from the pan if you wish.

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How To Make This Carbonara Pasta Recipe

OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS

The timing is critical in this recipe. It’s important to have all your ingredients ready before you start making it.

STEP ONE: In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the whole eggs, egg yolks, black pepper, and 1 cup of the grated pecorino cheese. Set aside.

eggs, pepper, and cheese being combined in a bowl

STEP TWO: Bring an 8-quart large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Once your water is boiling, you can add your linguine noodles and cook until al dente according to the package directions. This will take about 10 minutes. While your pasta cooks, you can start cooking your bacon.

STEP THREE: In a large skillet that is 2 inches deep, on medium heat, add the diced bacon. Cook the bacon for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring often or until golden and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet and place it into a small bowl, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the skillet. 

bacon bits cooked on a skillet

STEP FOUR: Turn off the heat to the skillet, add the minced garlic, and cook for 1 minute until the garlic is soft and fragrant. 

STEP FIVE: Remove 1½ cups of the starchy pasta water from the pot of cooked pasta and set aside. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss it around to coat the pasta with the garlic. 

cooked pasta added to the skillet

STEP SIX: Add the beaten eggs to the pasta and quickly toss the pasta with the egg mixture. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and toss the hot pasta until the sauce mixture has coated the pasta and slightly thickened up. The heat of the pasta and the hot pasta water will gently cook the eggs without scrambling them. You may need to add an additional ¼ to ½ cup of starchy pasta water to thin out your sauce. You need to work fast and toss the pasta in the sauce a few times to really coat the pasta. 

egg mixture and water added to the skillet of cooked pasta

STEP SEVEN: Transfer your carbonara pasta to a large serving bowl. Top with the remaining ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese, cooked bacon crumbles, and the fresh chopped parsley.

PRO TIP:

This pasta must be served hot and immediately after preparing it. It does not keep or reheat well.

pasta placed on a plate and topped with bacon bits, cheese, and parsley

How To Serve

Enjoy this easy carbonara recipe on a busy weeknight. Add a batch of our crispy garlic bread or cheesy pull-apart bread and a side Caesar salad for a filling, hearty meal.

Storage

IN THE FRIDGE: This authentic carbonara pasta should be served immediately while it is still hot. This dish really does not work well to reheat or to make ahead, due to the nature of the carbonara sauce thickening and being absorbed by the pasta as it sits and cools.

IN THE FREEZER: We don’t recommend freezing this authentic pasta carbonara recipe as the creamy texture of the sauce won’t hold up to the freezing process.

overhead shot of a bowl of Carbonara Pasta topped with bacon bits, cheese, and parsley with pasta wrapped around a fork

This delicious carbonara pasta recipe makes for a creamy and flavorful pasta dish. If you are a fan of white sauce on your pasta, then you will surely love this traditional meal. It will have you feeling transported to your favorite Italian restaurant, right in the comfort of your own home.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the best pasta to use in this recipe?

This carbonara pasta recipe is best made with either spaghetti, linguine, or rigatoni. They all hold the sauce in just the right way.

Are there raw eggs in this pasta?

It may seem that there are raw eggs in this pasta as they are added to the pasta once the stove is turned off, but the heat from the pasta and pasta water will heat it to the point of cooking them without scrambling them. So the eggs are in fact cooked and safe to eat in this recipe.

What can I replace the bacon with for this carbonara pasta?

Pancetta would also work well in this pasta in place of the bacon. It doesn’t have quite the same smoky flavor as bacon does, but it will be equally delicious.

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overhead shot of a bowl of Carbonara Pasta topped with bacon bits, cheese, and parsley

Carbonara Pasta

5 from 2 votes
This carbonara pasta is a tasty Italian meal that's quick and easy to make, complete with a creamy homemade white sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 3 large eggs + 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • cups grated pecorino romano cheese, divided
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 16 ounces linguine pasta
  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 1 to 1½ cups reserved starchy pasta water, (from the cooked pasta)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Instructions
 

  • In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the whole eggs, egg yolks, black pepper and 1 cup of the grated pecorino cheese. Set aside.
  • In an 8-quart stockpot, bring the 10 cups water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a rolling boil. Once your water is boiling, you can add your linguine noodles and cook until al dente. This will take about 10 minutes. While your pasta is cooking, you can start cooking your bacon.
  • In a large 12-inch skillet that is 2 inches deep, on medium heat, add the diced bacon. Cook the bacon for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring often or until golden and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet and place it into a small bowl, leaving the rendered bacon grease in the skillet.
  • Turn off the heat to the skillet and add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until the garlic is soft and fragrant.
  • Remove 1½ cups of the starchy pasta water from the pot of cooked pasta and set aside. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss it around to coat the pasta with the garlic.
  • Add the beaten egg mixture to the pasta and quickly toss the pasta with the egg mixture. Add 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and toss the pasta until the sauce has coated the pasta and slightly thickened up. The heat from the pasta and the starchy pasta water will gently cook the eggs without scrambling them. You may need to add an additional ¼ to ½ cup of starchy pasta water to thin out your sauce. You need to work fast and toss the pasta in the sauce a few times to really coat the pasta.
  • Transfer your carbonara pasta to a large serving bowl. Top with the remaining ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese, cooked bacon crumbles and the fresh chopped parsley.

Notes

  • Using a high-quality cheese rather than any processed grated cheese in the shaker container for this recipe will give you the best results.
  • The timing is critical in this recipe. It’s important to have all your ingredients ready before you start making it.
  • This pasta must be served hot and immediately after preparing it. It does not keep or reheat well.

Nutrition

Sodium: 1288mg | Calcium: 190mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 207IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 99mg | Cholesterol: 96mg | Calories: 204kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Fat: 17g | Protein: 11g | Carbohydrates: 1g | Iron: 1mg
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