Creamy spaghetti carbonara (Spaghetti a la Carbonara) is a simple classic Italian pasta with pancetta that's quick and easy to make in minutes.
- 4 oz. spaghetti noodles
- 4 slices pancetta or bacon, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped (for garnish)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Add spaghetti noodles and cook until al dente (fully cooked but still firm) or according to package directions, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the pot aside.
- While cooking the spaghetti, prepare the sauce mixture by whisking together eggs, Parmesan cheese and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Sauté pancetta or bacon (no cooking oil needed) in a shallow saucepan over medium high heat until crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
- Turn off heat and transfer the hot spaghetti into the garlicky bacon in the saucepan. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot pasta water and stir vigorously to combine. A vigorous whisking emulsifies fat from the bacon and pasta water, creating the classic creamy carbonara.
- Stir in the egg-parmesan mixture and toss to coat, about 1 minute. Egg yolk is also an emulsifier which further helps fat disperse throughout the liquid, making the sauce creamy.
- Serve immediately on a plate and garnish with parsley and extra parmesan on top, if desired.
Do not drain or rinse the pasta. You want to keep all that starch on the pasta to help thicken the sauce and get the right consistency. Plus, you will need to use some of the pasta water in the sauce.
Stir vigorously while mixing the hot noodles together with pasta water into the pancetta. This emulsifies liquid and fat, creating a creamy consistency.
Turn off the heat when stirring in the egg-cheese sauce. The eggs are cooked when tossed in the hot pasta, but if the heat gets too high, the egg mixture will quickly solidify, turning into scrambled eggs.
How to customize. You could add in other cooked meat or vegetables if you want to mix things up. Some suggestions are chicken, shrimp or mushrooms.
How to store: Spaghetti carbonara is best served fresh. To store, transfer cooled spaghetti to an airtight container and store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stove over medium-low heat for a few minutes until warmed through. You may need to add a little water if the sauce has thickened up too much in the refrigerator.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: spaghetti carbonara, carbonara pasta, creamy carbonara, creamy spaghetti carbonara, how to make carbonara, 15-minute dinner, pasta