Spaghetti Carbonara

Carbonara is a rich pasta dish which originated in Rome. The cheese sauce is an emulsion created by mixing egg yolks with grated hard cheese and black pepper. You can choose between pecorino (which will give a much sharper tang) and parmesan, or go 50/50 by using both.

The star of this dish is guanciale, a type of cured meat prepared from pork cheeks. You might be familiar with pancetta in carbonara, however guanciale has a long curing process, resulting in a melting, silkier texture and more intense flavour.

We’ve used lots of mixing bowls to make this recipe work for everyone. However, it’s worth noting that if your guanciale pan isn’t very thick bottomed and cools quickly, you could add the egg mix straight to the pan. If it’s too hot, the eggs will cook and scramble, so it’s worth using a separate bowl in this instance.

Although the recipe might look lengthy, it’s actually extremely simple, just be sure to read to the end before you start!

Ingredients for carbonara Serves: 2

  • 100g guanciale
  • 60g parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fine salt
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 25g butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, bashed with a knife and peeled (each clove should remain in one piece)

Method for carbonara

  1. First prepare the ingredients. Cut the guanciale into ½ cm slices, and then slice into batons ½ cm wide. Cut into 1 cm lengths.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the grated cheese, egg, egg yolks, and black pepper.
  3. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add 1 tbsp salt and the spaghetti. Cook for 9-10 minutes or until al dente.
  4. Whilst the pasta cooks, fry the guanciale. Place a wide heavy-based pan over medium heat, and add the butter, guanciale and garlic. Fry for 8 minutes until the guanciale becomes crisp and much of the fat renders out. Tend to this very closely as it cooks, keeping moving the guanciale around in the pan and adjusting the heat – initially over medium-high heat, and then reducing to low to prevent the guanciale from burning as it crisps. Take care as it could spit. Lift out and discard the garlic when it browns. Move the pan off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
  5. Drain the pasta, and when the guanciale pan looks cool enough not to spit, add the pasta and mix well. Tip the pasta and guanciale into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg mixture and mix well, until the cheese melts and the spaghetti is coated in a glossy sauce. Serve.
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Spaghetti Carbonara

Shop all pasta, and try our mushroom carbonara recipe.


  • I could eat carbonara every day. But I just use 3 egg yolks (the best quality eggs you can afford), loads of black pepper, and Parmesan. I used to make it with cream when I was in school…makes me feel nauseous now! :)

    Liz on

  • I love a Carbonara but after having it at Donatello‘s in Brighton nothing is as good. Well for the first time I though it give it a go myself. Damm this recipe is superb, and so easy. I blame you for when I put on so much weight. Amazing. Thanks for sharing

    Marc on

  • @bonviven If El Bulli are adding cream, then they’re not making Carbonara. And chilli flakes! 🤣😂🤣😂

    Gary on

  • I followed the recipe precisely – and I thought it was OUTSTANDING! It just goes to show how a few ingredients can combine to produce something as fantastic as this! This dish has subtlety and bags of flavour at the same time. I do not think it needs anything else – it is perfect as it is. Thank you for such a great recipe!

    Peter on

  • Nice recipe. I suggest adding chilli flakes, keeping the garlic in its skin and rendering the fat from the guanciale so no need for olive oil or butter. Also Ferran Adria of El Bulli adds double cream and brings it to a simmer.

    bon viven on

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