Spaghetti alla carbonara is a stone-cold Italian classic from the region of Lazio, and one of the famous four pasta dishes of Rome, alongside cacio e pepe, amatriciana and pasta alla gricia.
Like many famous dishes, there are now lots of variations on the theme. Our 'Carbonara of Dreams', for example, is a rich and creamy version for those who like their pasta with an indulgent twist. However, this recipe adheres very closely to the authentic, original version of this dish, and is our Head Chef Roberta’s go-to meal when she’s looking for quick, satisfying and whole-heartedly Italian comfort food.
An authentic carbonara only requires a few components, but the outcome is always more delicious if you find the highest quality ingredients available. Splashing out on eggs with rich, golden yolks will enhance your carbonara endlessly and using guanciale (cured pig cheek) instead of pancetta or bacon will bless your dish with a suitably savoury flavour.
Roberta's traditional spaghetti carbonara recipe
Follow along as Chef Roberta shows you the techniques behind a classic carbonara in the video below.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Calories per serving: 846 kcal
- 150g diced guanciale
- 450g spaghetti
- 4 egg yolks
- 10 tbsp pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chef’s tip: Don’t preheat the pan for your guanciale, put it into the cold pan and then turn on the hob, this way it will slowly release its delicious fat as it cooks.
- Fry the guanciale in a large frying pan, there’s no need to add any oil to the pan as when the guanciale cooks it will release fat that will help the meat to cook. Fry for 5-10 minutes until the meat has browned and become crispy, then remove from the heat.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, cook the spaghetti in the water until very al dente (we suggest subtracting two minutes from the time advised on the packet). When cooked, drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with most of the pecorino to form a paste. Add this to the pan of drained pasta (ensuring your hob is turned off), along with about 2 tbsp of the reserved pasta water and a generous amount of black pepper. Mix together until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer the guanciale to the pasta pan and toss everything together so that each strand of spaghetti is generously coated in the sauce and the guanciale is evenly distributed throughout.
- Top with the remaining cheese and more black pepper to taste. Buon appetito!