traditional pasta carbonara recipe

Traditional Pasta Carbonara Recipe & Video

The traditional Pasta carbonara (or Pasta Alla Carbonara in Italian) is a typical Roman recipe that’s made with very simple ingredients. There are two main legends that attempt to describe the origins. Some say pasta carbonara was invented in the early 1800s by the members of a secret revolutionary society that were rebelling the Papal State. Others say spaghetti carbonara got invented after WWII for American Soldiers who longed for eggs and bacon. Whichever it is, I’m sure you’ll agree the traditional recipe is most delicious!

Making traditional, authentic pasta carbonara is very simple. It’s made of very few ingredients. You’ll need Eggs, Guanciale (cured pork cheek), Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, salt, and of course pasta noodles. As for the noodle type, the most traditional is bucatini a thicker type of spaghetti with a hole in the middle. More commonly, you can use spaghetti, mezzemaniche (a sort of short tube pasta with ridges), or rigatoni. Today, people serve traditional pasta Carbonara generally with spaghetti, all over Italy.

So What Is the Traditional Pasta Carbonara Recipe?

Like many Italian dishes, there isn’t just one pasta carbonara, because every grandmother in Rome has her own traditional recipe. However, the accepted (and most typical) pasta carbonara recipe for two requires:

2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg

50 gr of Guanciale (if you can not find guanciale pancetta or even bacon works fine)

50 gr of Grated Pecorino Romano

180 gr of Pasta Noodles

1/2 TBSP of Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method for Making Traditional Pasta Carbonara

First, you’ll need to cut the guanciale into small cubes and add them to a hot frying pan with a half tablespoon of olive oil. Meanwhile, you can start boiling the water for the pasta. When the water is boiling add a good amount of salt and drop the pasta. When the guanciale is nice and crisp, go ahead and set it aside. Then, beat the egg yolks with the cheese and a lot of ground pepper (1-2 TBSP). When the pasta is cooked, set aside half a cup of pasta water. Then, drain the pasta (do not rinse it).

Then, toss the pasta in the oil and guanciale mix till it is nice and coated. Remove the pasta from the heat. Then, transfer the pasta into the cheese and egg mixture. Mix it all vigorously. If the carbonara sauce is too thick, add a little pasta water (Perhaps 1 TBSP at a time) and continue stirring everything. Emulsification will occur in no time! When the sauce is nice and creamy it is ready to serve. Regardless, emulsifying the eggs is the secret to making a perfect, traditional pasta carbonara recipe.

Here is the video!

How Do You Avoid Scrambled Eggs in Carbonara?

The only way to avoid scrambled eggs is to mix the hot pasta, oil, and guanciale together, first. And ideally, the egg and cheese mixture is in a separate bowl. Then, transfer the pasta and guanciale into the bowl containing the egg and cheese mixture – that is off the heat. If you’re really afraid of scrambling your eggs, you can add a teaspoon of milk to the cheese and egg mixture before tossing the pasta. But, if you follow the directions carefully, you won’t need milk.

What can I use instead of bacon in Carbonara?

Finding a guanciale outside Italy it might be a challenge. For that reason, you can substitute guanciale for pancetta or even bacon. It might not be the 100% traditional pasta carbonara recipe, but it works just fine.

Does Real Carbonara Have Cream?

Pasta Carbonara - Mezzamaniche from Felice Restaurant in Rome
Mezzemaniche alla Carbonara

The traditional pasta carbonara recipe absolutely does not have cream! In the real carbonara made in Rome, and in Italy cream is not one of the ingredients. The creamy sauce is just an emulsion made of eggs, cheese, and some of the starchy pasta water. This emulsion has to be done very carefully to avoid scrambling the eggs. Other ingredients that is not in the true roman recipe are pees. The addition of peas is something that got started in North America, and it is not authentic Italian.

What Cheese is the Best for Carbonara?

Being a dish from Rome the traditional pasta carbonara recipe calls for Pecorino Romano (or Romano in North America) cheese. However, it is not uncommon to see pasta carbonara recipes made with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, all over Italy.

Is White Sauce the Same as Carbonara?

White sauce is generally cream, cheese, bechamel or a mix of (varying quantities) of all three. To be sure, traditional pasta Carbonara is an egg emulsion, not a cream based sauce as you will see in the above receipe.

Is Carbonara Sauce a Raw Egg?

While you start with raw eggs, just like most recipes, they’ll cook in the hot pasta and oil once they get mixed together. However, if you’re really afraid of consuming raw eggs, you can use pasteurized eggs. The texture and taste will stay the same.

What Can You Add to Carbonara?

If you want to keep the pasta carbonara recipe 100% traditional, the only thing you should add is a lot of freshly grounded pepper when you serve it. Anything else will not make it authentic. If you are don’t care about authenticity, the sky is the limit, go nuts!

Can You Make Carbonara Without Pork?

While the recipe for traditional pasta carbonara without pork is not authentic, a great substitute would be duck bacon. The texture and the flavor are very similar to pork bacon and it will make it almost identical to the real dish from Rome. If you can not find duck bacon you can try it with chicken but it would be a completely different dish altogether.

We hope that this article inspired you to try this amazing pasta dish. It is easy, quick, and really really tasty. Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think.


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  1. OK, excellent tutorial! All ingredients have been prepped and are ready. Cover me, boys, I’m going in!!!

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