This classic Spaghetti Carbonara with bacon is a simple pasta dish that takes just about 20 minutes to make and always hits the spot. It combines perfectly cooked noodles, crispy bacon, and a rich and creamy sauce made with eggs, Parmesan cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.
Easy Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
If you’ve never tried Spaghetti Carbonara, you are in for a real treat. This simple Roman pasta dish is a classic for a reason. It uses simple ingredients like Parmesan cheese, black pepper, bacon fat, egg yolks, and starchy pasta water to create the most luscious, velvety smooth, rich and creamy carbonara sauce.
We top ours with peas and crispy bacon for a seriously comforting meal that is as quick and easy to throw together as it is delicious. If you’re looking for more easy pasta recipe, you might also love this Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce, Tomato Feta Pasta, or our Homemade Lasagna.
Easy Carbonara Recipe Ingredients
- Spaghetti - as the name suggests, spaghetti is the classic pasta used to make Spaghetti Carbonara. You could substitute another long pasta noodle, such as fettuccine or linguine. You’ll want to cook just to al dente according to the instructions on the package. Don’t forget to reserve about 1 cup of pasta water to use for the sauce.
- Bacon - you’ll need about 10 slices or ½ pound of bacon for this recipe. It’s easiest to cut the bacon into small pieces before cooking. Make sure to reserve all of the bacon grease because you will use it to make the sauce. Instead of bacon, you could substitute another type of cured pork such as pancetta, or even guanciale which comes from the pork jowl.
- Egg Yolks - egg yolks are the heart of Spaghetti Carbonara and what make the sauce so silky smooth. You can reserve the egg whites for another use or discard.
- Parmesan Cheese - make sure to use a high quality Parmesan cheese if possible. Either freshly grated or shaved will work great.
- Frozen Peas - these should be thawed and drained. You could also substitute fresh peas if they are in season. Asparagus would be another great option.
- Salt - kosher salt works great.
- Pepper - I recommend using freshly ground black pepper.
How to Make This Easy Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
- Cook the spaghetti to al dente. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (about 1 tablespoon for a half gallon of water) and cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Cook the bacon. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the bacon bits to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Reserve the bacon grease in the pan.
- Add the spaghetti to the pan. When the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the skillet with the bacon grease and toss with tongs.
- Temper in the egg yolks. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and pepper. Continue to whisk while adding a steady stream of about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the beaten eggs. Add the egg mixture to the pasta while stirring and tossing with tongs. Continue to toss until the pasta is completely coated.
- Add the cheese and pasta water. Add the Parmesan cheese and continue to toss until the sauce is creamy. If the sauce seems a little too thick, add up to ½ cup more of the reserved pasta water. You want the sauce to have the consistency of heavy cream.
- Serve. Stir in the peas last, then top with crispy bacon just before serving. Enjoy!
Spaghetti Carbonara Variations
Next time you're in the mood for Spaghetti Carbonara, try out one of these variations to make all sorts of different carbonara recipes. You can also switch up the carbonara noodles to make Fettuccine Carbonara, Linguine Carbonara, and more!
- Chicken Carbonara: Add leftover diced chicken or rotisserie chicken.
- Shrimp Carbonara: For seafood lovers, add cooked shrimp or even popcorn shrimp.
- Mushroom Carbonara: Add sauteed mushrooms for an earthy and savory flavor variation.
- Carbonara alla Romana: Add Pecorino cheese and black pepper just before adding the carbonara sauce to the noodles. It's a classic Roman recipe that's definitely worth a try!
- Carbonara with Peas: Add peas to the pasta carbonara mix for a pop of color and extra nutrients.
- Spicy Carbonara: For those who love a bit of heat, add red pepper flakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
No - the egg yolks in this recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara are very gently cooked by tempering them into hot pasta water, then adding them back to a hot skillet with hot cooked pasta. Egg yolks only need to reach roughly 150 degrees F to be considered cooked, which happens gently during the process.
While both carbonara and Alfredo sauce are creamy, they are quite different. Alfredo sauce is another rich sauce that is made mostly from butter and Parmesan cheese. Carbonara gets its creaminess from tempering egg yolks into warm starchy pasta water, then adding in Parmesan cheese and a hefty dose of bacon fat.
This is one of those recipes that you really can not make ahead of time. Carbonara Spaghetti truly should be made and served immediately. The sauce will never be as creamy and silky as when it is freshly made.
I personally love using long pasta noodles so that the sauce will coat every last inch. Fettuccine carbonara and linguine carbonara are two great alternatives. However, any pasta will honestly work great. Another favorite is tortellini carbonara.
Reheating carbonara is a bit tricky since the cooked egg yolks in the sauce aren't something that will easily melt back down. However, if you want to reheat carbonara, I recommend adding a bit of heavy cream or broth to the pasta while reheating very slowly.
Storing and Reheating Carbonara Spaghetti
- Refrigerator: you can store any leftover pasta in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- How to reheat carbonara: while Spaghetti Carbonara doesn’t reheat very well, you also wouldn’t want to just toss out leftovers. Try adding a touch of heavy cream or broth to the pasta while you reheat in a pan over medium low heat.
Easy Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
- 1 pound Spaghetti Pasta
- 10 slices Bacon or about a half pound, cut into small pieces.
- 3 large Egg Yolks
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese grated or shaved
- ⅔ cup Frozen Peas thawed
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Cook the pasta in salted water (about 1 tablespoon for a half gallon of water.) until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before straining the water.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the bacon bits to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Reserve the bacon grease in the pan.
- When the pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the skillet with the bacon grease and toss with tongs.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and pepper. Continue to whisk while adding a steady stream of about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the beaten eggs. Add the egg mixture to the pasta while stirring and tossing with tongs. Continue to toss until the pasta is completely coated.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and continue to toss until the sauce is creamy. If the sauce seems a little too thick, add up to ½ cup more of the reserved pasta water. You want the sauce to have the consistency of heavy cream.
- Stir in the peas last, then top with crispy bacon just before serving. Enjoy!
More Quick and Easy Pasta Recipes
- Baked Penne Pasta with Italian Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Tortellini Pasta Bake
- Easy Crockpot Lasagna with Ravioli
- 4 Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Sun Dried Tomatoes Baked Chicken Penne Pasta
- Easy Baked Ziti
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Buffalo Chicken Pasta
- More Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas
- More Pasta Dishes
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This Spaghetti Carbonara recipe is quick, easy, and seriously delicious. It uses simple ingredients like pasta water, egg yolks, and Parmesan cheese to make a lusciously smooth carbonara sauce.