Country of Origin - Italy
Preparation Time10 minutes
Cooking Time15 minutes
Tags primo


This dish is simple and quick, and a staple of italian college students, since it's a whole meal in itself. Its origins are debated, some say that the name 'alla carbonara' , that means ' coal worker style', is due to the use of black pepper to top it, making it look like it's covered with coal powder. It can be found all over italy but it's very easy to make at home. It is traditionally made with Guanciale (see ) which is not that easy to find in the US, but you can substitute it with bacon or pancetta. Note that the eggs will be raw, unless you get pasteurized yolks, so pregnant women should not eat this dish.

Nutrition Facts
Per 169 g Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
638 kCal
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
28.0 g
Saturated Fat
11.2 g
235.2 mg
712.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates
67 g
Dietary Fiber
3 g
2 g
25 g
Vitamin A    2% Calcium    20%
Magnesium    14% Iron    18%
Vitamin C    0% Potassium    9%
Vitamin D    0% Folate    59%
* Based on a regular 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation.

Ingredients for

Ingredient AmountComment
For the Main Part
Dry spaghetti,enriched 12 oz
Egg Yolk 4

Eggs should be as fresh as possible.

Cured pork,bacon 5 oz

Guanciale is traditionally used, but bacon is an acceptable substitute.

Pecorino cheese 4 oz
Black pepper 1 Tablespoons (1/2 fl oz)

Fresh ground pepper

Recommended Ingredients and Equipment

1 First of all, put on the stove a covered pot of water to cook the pasta. It gets to boiling faster if it's covered. I use a model with a strainer built into the lid, very handy if you make pasta often. We'll prepare the other ingredients while the water gets to boiling, saving us some time!
2 Prepare and weight your ingredients. In the pictures, I am showing how to make a single serving, for one person, but the preparation is of course identical for more people.
3 Cute the guanciale (or bacon) in small pieces. I get it already finely diced. On a pan that is big enough to later also fit the pasta, cook the guanciale (or bacon) with low heat. We don't want it to brown or burn, but gently cook for a few minutes (5 to 10 minutes, depends on your taste). Stir occasionally, in order to cook it evenly.
4 When the water starts boiling, throw in a tablespoon of salt and the pasta, Cook the spaghetti for 8 minutes, or whatever your particular brand recommends on the box. Take care not to overcook it, and again, remember to salt the water. Unsalted water makes for very sad pasta. While the pasta cooks, mix the egg yolks with the cheese, and add some of the cooking water to thin it out. The starch that pasta releases into water will help to make it creamier. Mix thoroughly. The amount of water depends on how thick/thin you like the sauce and you're free to experiment with that. I suggest you start with just the minimum - you can always add a little more but you can't take it away!
5 Mix the yolk/cheese/water till it's fairly smooth. Also, add a little bit of the pepper. No need to salt it - the cheese is salty already!
6 Once the pasta is cooked, drain it (but save some cooking water in case you want a more liquid sauce later) and toss it into the guanciale (or bacon) pan. Tun the heat back on and mixing it continuously, let it cook for about a minute. This will make the pasta absorb the fat and flavor of the guanciale.
7 Combine all the ingredients in a bowl - or directly on your plate if you want to avoid getting one more item dirty. DO NOT ADD THE EGG TO THE PAN WITH THE PASTA AND BACON! The egg will curdle when coming in contact with the hot pan and your dish will be ruined. Use a bowl, add the pasta/bacon mixture, the egg/cheese mixture, mix thoroughly, add some more water if you think it looks too dry.
8 Plate the pasta, and optionally top with more pecorino and more black pepper to taste. It is much better served hot!