Spaghetti Carbonara Original Recipe

Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe

What we are about to introduce to you today is Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe, made with 4 simple ingredients: guanciale, eggs, pecorino and spaghetti. In the traditional recipe for spaghetti carbonara, you need no other ingredients; so DO NOT use garlic, parsley, onion, cream, milk or parmigiano Reggiano. If you read this recipe thoroughly, you will see that there are many Pasta Carbonara variations, also here in Italy, but they are…variations of the authentic recipe. Which is very simple and fast to make. The only difficulty is to make sure that the eggs do not cook so much to look like an omelette or too little to be raw and cold. There are a few tricks to make a perfect carbonara and now we’ll let you know.

First of all: guanciale, pancetta or bacon?

Spaghetti Carbonara is one of the most famous Pasta Recipes of Roman Cuisine. It’s a simple pasta dish, whose original recipe wants, as ingredients, eggs, guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name comes from guancia, Italian for cheek, sometimes translated with pork cheek lard or jowl bacon) and grated pecorino romano. Many people use pancetta or bacon instead of guanciale, sometimes because it’s easier to find them on the market than guanciale, but more often they use them because guanciale is a more fatty meat. We think they are great alternatives anyway.

Pecorino Romano o Parmigiano Reggiano?

Spaghetti carbonara traditional recipe is an Italian recipe whose origins are in Lazio. So we use pecorino romano because it’s a cheese born in Lazio, while Parmigiano reggiano belongs to another region: Emilia Romagna.

As with all the dishes of traditional Italian cuisine, there are several variations to the Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe. At the bottom of this recipe you will find some of these variations: what to add and what to remove from the traditional ingredients and why.

READ: How to Make the Best Amatriciana Sauce 

Spaghetti Carbonara Original Recipe

Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 10 Min
Yields : 4


  • salt
  • ground black pepper


Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe prep 1 2 3

Cut the guanciale into small pieces, then cook them in a frying pan with the extra vigin olive oil, over medium heat, being careful not to roast them too much (1). Meanwhile, add Pecorino cheese to the eggs (2) and whisk them with a fork until you get a cream (3).

Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe prep 4 5 6

Now cook spaghetti in boiling salted water, respecting the cooking times specified on the package (4). Drain when they are al dente and place them in the pan with the guanciale. Cook for 1 minute, over high heat, stirrig (5). Turn off the heat then pour the cream of eggs and cheese over (6) and start to stir quickly.

Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe prep 7 8 9

At this point the cream will melt and warm; the eggs will cook without forming any lumps (7).
With the help of a ladle and a fork, create a pasta nest (8) then add guanciale, ground black pepper and grated pecorino cheese to taste (9). Serve immediately.

Spaghetti Carbonara: Variations

Each traditional recipe has many variations, and this happens also for the Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe, where variants are characterized by the addition or substitution of ingredients.

  • Spaghetti  Carbonara with Cream: many people like to make Spaghetti Carbonara with cream (prepared by replacing 1 egg with 1 dl of cream) because the dish is more creamy and it has a taste of egg less pronounced.
  • Parmesan instead of Pecorino Romano: Even for what concerns the cheese there are those who use Parmesan cheese instead of Pecorino Romano or half Parmesan cheese and half Pecorino Romano. In this case the taste becomes less strong and flavorful (pecorino Romano is a very tasty cheese)
  • Pancetta or Bacon instead of Guanciale: Guanciale, which is obtained from the cheek of the pork, can be replaced by pancetta or bacon, which instead is obtained from the fatty part of the belly pork (possibly not smoked). Not a bad choice after all.
  • Spaghetti Carbonara with garlic or onion: many people like to cook the guanciale with a clove of garlic or a little onion. We don’t know…in these cases carbonara tastes a lot of onion or garlic. It depends on the tastes.
  • Types of Pasta: There are also different opinions on the type of pasta: in addition to spaghetti, Carbonara Sauce is excellent with tagliatelle or fettuccine. In Rome, they usually use rigatoni pasta.
  • And for those who don’t eat meat read this recipe: VEGETARIAN CARBONARA
  • Do you like fish? Try Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara: Origins

Pasta Carbonara is a Roman recipe but it surely is a recent one, since it has been heard of it only after the Second World War. Its origin is somewhat controversial, and there are at least three plausible theories.

  • Pasta dishes seasoned with products of pastoralism and agriculture (such as eggs and pancetta or lard) were common in the Abruzzo mountains. It seems that some displaced people have discovered them and brought to Rome at the end of the Second World War.
  • A second hypothesis says that in the Roman taverns the owners seasoned the pasta with Carbonara Sauce to feed the American soldiers because they knew that at breakfast they ate eggs and bacon. Given the success, the recipe has spread.
  • The third hypothesis says that Pasta Carbonara was prepared in the Roman taverns all along, but only after the Second World War the recipe became known to the general public, because it came into the printed cookbooks.

Now you know all the tricks to make a perfect carbonara recipe. So come on! Let’s start cooking!

Spaghetti Carbonara Original Recipe Ingredient Box

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Yields: 4
  • 350 g (12 oz) of spaghetti
  • 200 g (7 oz) of guanciale
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g (3,50 oz) of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • ground black pepper


User Rating

4.1 (33 Votes)



14 Replies to "Spaghetti Carbonara Original Recipe"

  • comment-avatar
    Makos (@thehungrybites) March 3, 2018 (5:58 pm)

    Hey Barbara!
    I’m really glad I’ve found this recipe! Nice info about the cheese used here!
    I personally like to add a little bit of milk (instead of cream), since I find that it prevents the eggs from becoming omelet 🙂

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini March 4, 2018 (10:59 am)

      Hi Makos! Actually even here in Italy many people love to add milk or cream. I believe that in the end it depends on personal tastes. Try the recipe as it is, without adding any other ingredients. You’ll feel the difference! Cheers and kisses!

  • comment-avatar
    Rolf March 21, 2018 (3:28 pm)

    The instructions in 3 and 6 are clear. But then 9 will be not possible as there is no grated cheese available.

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini March 21, 2018 (4:07 pm)

      Hi Rolf,
      Thanks for your comment. I know that not in all countries the Roman pecorino cheese is available. However do not worry, spaghetti carbonara can also be made with Parmesan cheese, in fact it is one of the variants of this recipe. If not even the Parmesan cheese is available (I hope not), you could do like this: whisk the eggs without any cheese, then, in a separate bowl, make a cream with a soft cheese, like philadephia, and add it at the end. It’s not the same thing, but, how do you say, extreme remedies for extreme evil …. Cheers ;-D

  • comment-avatar
    Traci June 4, 2018 (5:15 pm)

    I am so glad I found this recipe! I haven’t had good carbonara since I left Rome! Can’t wait to make this!! They have an Eataly here in Boston so I can stock up on ingredients!

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini July 31, 2018 (3:01 pm)

      Great idea Traci! Here in Italy, Eataly sells high quality Italian products. I hope the same in Boston. If so, don’t worry, you will make the best carbonara of your life! Cheers ;-D

  • comment-avatar
    Shaun July 28, 2018 (1:16 am)

    One look at this recipe and I knew I had a winner. I like how you give a brief history behind spaghetti carbonara, and that you’re not afraid to tell us to drop the garlic! I agree. And you cover the variants behind this classic dish, too. Keep it up, I love the authenticity of your Italian recipes.

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini July 31, 2018 (3:07 pm)

      Wow Shaun! I blushed as I read your comment! Thanks so much! Your words give me the strength to continue writing about italian recipes! Thank you, cheers and kisses

  • comment-avatar
    eve February 5, 2019 (9:54 pm)

    Do you drain the pan after cooking the bacon? There is no mention of draining… and I think not draining would make it greasy…

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini February 5, 2019 (10:41 pm)

      Hello Eve,
      Usually we don’t drain the pan because the grease of the guanciale is part of the seasoning. Carbonara is a dish rich in calories, that’s for sure, but it will be not greasy. Try it and let me know

  • comment-avatar
    Nic Ashby May 12, 2019 (9:24 am)

    My girlfriend told me she has had this dish since she was in Rome so I got everything including Pork Cheek which surprisingly isn’t that easy to track down… I make it for her in a couple days wish me luck!

  • comment-avatar
    Good Bitee - Home Cooked Food June 7, 2019 (11:04 am)

    I’ve been making carbonara for years with my only deviations from this recipe being the (sometimes) use of bacon and addition of garlic. The secret truly is in the technique; it is incredibly easy to accidentally end up with scrambled eggs.

  • comment-avatar
    Kathy September 27, 2019 (3:41 am)

    I finally found a pasta carbonara recipe that we love. I do have a question, the recipe did not say to save and pancetta so I didn’t have any to put on top.#8 Did I miss something?

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini September 27, 2019 (5:07 am)

      Hi Kathy! No, you don’t have to save any pancetta. Usually when you mix the ingredients, a little pancetta remains on the bottom of the pan. You can pick that one to put on top of spaghetti as a finishing touch. But it’s purely an aesthetic factor. Ciao!

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