Traditional Spaghetti Carbonara

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Spaghetti Carbonara recipe

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Traditional SPAHGETTI CARBONARA in 15 minutes with 4 ingredients

The traditional Italian recipe: only 4 ingredients - and NO cream! This delicious and super easy recipe will only take you 15 minutes start to finish.

Spaghetti Carbonara - Doing it the traditional Italian way!

Being half Italian, Spaghetti Carbonara is a childhood staple for me. And to be honest, I do get a little bit upset about some recipes (or dare I say ‘crimes to Carbonara’) that are being shared online.

Carbonara traditionally only has four ingredients - and cream (or milk) is none of them.

Spaghetti Carbonara are NOT a ‘pasta dish with cream and scrambled egg’, so today I want to share with you how easy, quick, budget friendly and delicious the traditional recipe is.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Things to know about the traditional Italian Carbonara recipe

  • Lardons: The original recipe asks for ‘guanciale’, that’s lardons of cured pork cheeks. Depending on where you are, guanciale might be a bit difficult to come by, so you can easily substitute with pancetta (cured pork belly) or bacon lardons (ideally cured, not smoked). The difference between guanciale and pancetta, other than the parts of the pork it is made from, is the fat content: guanciale has about 70% fat and a slightly more intense flavour than pancetta with 50% fat.
  • Cheese: In the original recipe, you also use Pecorino cheese instead of Parmiggiano. I will leave that decision to you, I like it with either (or a combination of both).
  • Salt: given the sodium contents of both the lardons and the cheese plus the fact that you’re cooking your pasta in salted water, you should not need any additional salt in this recipe.
  • Cream: as I said, the original recipe is not made with cream or milk. The creamy consistency is achieved by adding starchy water from boiling pasta to the egg mixture.
  • Cooking the pasta: use a large pot that the spaghetti can lie in. Do add just enough water to ensure the pasta is covered plus approx 1 inch. The less water you use, the more starchy it gets - which is good for helping with the creamy consistency of the sauce.
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I’m curious to know: how did you use to make Carbonara? Did you use cream? Please let me know in the comments below. And now, let’s go cook the way the Italians do. Let’s grab our aprons, I’ll see you in the kitchen.

Xoxo Rena


Spaghetti Carbonara

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Doing it the Italian way: Traditional SPAHGETTI CARBONARA in 15 minutes with 4 ingredients. An easy step-by-step instruction for a delicious meal:

Fact Sheet

Category: Pasta, main Cuisine: under 1 hour under 30 minutes Pasta Main Dishes European Italian Cooking Method: cooking, frying Diet: Preparation Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes Servings: 2


  • 250g spaghetti
  • 125g lardons (guanciale, pancetta or bacon)
  • 3 eggs (1 whole, 2 yolks)
  • 60g Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (grated)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, coarsely ground (or 1/4 tsp ground black pepper)
  • 1 handful salt


    Spaghetti Carbonara ingredients
  1. Bring water to boil, add 1 handful salt. Add spaghetti. Cook on medium heat until spaghetti are done (al dente to your liking).
  2. Cooking the pasta: use a large pot that the spaghetti can lie in. Do add just enough water to ensure the pasta is covered plus approx 1 inch. The less water you use, the more starchy it gets - which is good for helping with the creamy consistency of the sauce.
  3. cooking Spaghetti Carbonara
  4. Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté lardons on medium-high heat without any extra oil until crispy.
  5. cooking Spaghetti Carbonara
  6. In a bowl, mix 1 whole egg and two egg yolks, 2/3 of the grated cheese and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
  7. Once the lardons are crispy, transfer them (melted fat included) to the egg mixture. Stir to avoid egg whites coagulating.
  8. cooking Spaghetti Carbonara
  9. One minute before draining spaghetti, ladle 1 cup of starchy pasta water out of the pot and add to egg mixture (again: stir to avoid coagulation of egg whites). Set aside some additional pasta water in a cup in case you need it later.
  10. cooking Spaghetti Carbonara
  11. Turn off the stove.
  12. Drain spaghetti, then return to the pot immediately. Place the pot back on the stove (no heat).
  13. Stir in the egg-lardons-water-cheese mixture and continue stirring until the cheese melts and the yolk and starch cause the sauce to thicken to a lovely creamy consistency.
  14. cooking Spaghetti Carbonara
  15. If the pasta is too dry, add some more of the pasta water.
  16. cooking Spaghetti Carbonara
  17. Once you are happy with the consistency (the spaghetti carbonara should be smooth and creamy and in no way like scrambled eggs), plate the spaghetti, sprinkle with the leftover cheese and black pepper. Buon appetito!
  18. Spaghetti Carbonara
Bon appetit


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This looks amazing! It sounds really simple to make too! Thank you for sharing!
> Reply < March 4, 2023, 2:15 p.m.

Rena .   moderator

Thank you , Katherine! It's really easy and the 'real deal'
> Reply < March 4, 2023, 6:30 p.m.