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Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara

This Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara is made with just 4 ingredients, egg yolks, black pepper, pecorino and guanciale and of course Spaghetti. Made in 15 minutes, this creamy authentic pasta recipe will make you think you are in Rome.

carbonara pasta in a silver pan


 

To tell the truth I learned to make La Carbonara with pancetta, whole eggs and pancetta the way my mother-in-law made it. I was told she kept the guanciale to make delicious sandwiches with her freshly made bread. But since I have heard over and over again from my daughter and a couple of readers that I really need to share the Authentic version, I decided now was the time!

How to make it

In a large pot boil the water, once the water is at a roaring boil add a little salt (depending on how salty your guanciale is) and the pasta, stir and cook until a little more than al dente.

In a small/medium bowl beat until well combined the egg yolks, add the grated pecorino and pepper, beat to combine. Just before adding to the pan add 1/3 cup of hot pasta water and mix to combine well.

mixing the egg yolks with the pecorino and pasta water in a grey bowl

Slice the guanciale into short thin strips.

In a large pan add the olive oil and guanciale, cook until desired doneness, I like it on the crunchy side, the Italian not so much. Remove the guanciale to a clean plate. Do not remove the oil (& fat) from the pan.

the sliced guanciale in a silver pan before and after cooked

On medium/high heat, add the al dente pasta to the pan, add a 1/2 ladle of hot pasta water and stirring constantly to combine for about 1-2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture and combine, add 1/3 cup a ladle of hot pasta water (the heat from the pasta and the pasta water will cook the eggs without turning it into scrambled eggs) and toss continually until well combined. Add the guanciale and gently mix.

adding the pasta to the pan with the egg yolk mixture

Serve immediately topped with freshly grated pecorino and black pepper.

adding the guanciale to the pan

What makes the dish creamy?

Egg yolks are what make this dish creamy, adding cream is a big no no in this dish. Whisking the yolks with some pecorino and adding hot pasta water is all you need to make this a creamy Italian pasta dish.

What is guanciale

Guanciale is an Italian cured meat from the pork jowl (cheek). The name is derived from the Italian word guancia which means cheek in English. Pancetta on the other hand is the pork belly that has been cured. Guanciale like pancetta has a high fat to meat ratio, which mean it has a tender texture with a sweet pork flavour. Although guanciale definitely has a richer flavour and a softer texture. 

carbonara on a white plate

What is the best pasta to use?

The authentic dish is made with spaghetti, just ask a Roman, but if you must you can substitute it with rigatoni or buccatini. My husband’s favourite pasta is penne so I have used that also.

Where did it originate?

As the story goes the first serving of Carbonara was in 1944. Apparently it was a combination of ingredients that were available to American soldiers and the creative hand of a Roman cook. The result was the beginning of the classic spaghetti alla carbonara in other words eggs, bacon (later to become guanciale) and cheese. Overtime the recipe has evolved into the one we know today!

carbonara in a pan and on a plate

How to store it

This is one pasta dish that is best consumed at the time it is made. If you do have leftovers, then store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days, re-heat on the stove, add a little water (pasta water if available) and heat through.

So if you are looking for something Authentic Italian, then I hope you give this Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara a try and let me know what you think. Buon Appetito!

carbonara on a white plate with pecorino on top
carbonara on a plate with guanciale on top

Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara

Rosemary Molloy
This Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara is made with just 4 ingredients, egg yolks, black pepper, pecorino and guanciale. Made in 15 minutes.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Dish, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 3 servings
Calories 519 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups cooked spaghetti (about 6 ounces dry) (600 grams cooked or 300 grams dry)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup pecorino freshly grated (100 grams)
  • ½-1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½-¾ cup guanciale (100-150 grams)

EXTRAS

  • 2-3 tablespoons pecorino freshly grated

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot boil the water, once the water is at a roaring boil add a little salt and the spaghetti, stir and cook until a little bit more than al dente.
  • In a small/medium bowl beat until well combined the egg yolks, add the grated pecorino and pepper, beat to combine. Just before adding to the pan add 1/3 – 1/2 cup (80-120ml) of hot pasta water and mix to combine well.
  • Slice the guanciale into short thin strips. In a large pan add the olive oil and guanciale, cook on medium heat until desired doneness, I like it on the crunchy side, the Italian not so much. Remove the guanciale to a clean plate. Do not remove the oil (& fat) from the pan.
  • On medium/high heat, add the al dente pasta to the pan, and a 1/3-1/2 cup (80-120 ml) of hot pasta water and stir to combine,  remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture and quickly combine, add 1/3 -1/2 cup of hot pasta water and toss continually until well combined and creamy. Add the guanciale and gently mix.  Serve immediately topped with freshly grated pecorino and black pepper. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 519kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 284mg | Sodium: 453mg | Potassium: 122mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 481IU | Calcium: 431mg | Iron: 3mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

23 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been searching for a Carbonara recipe that keeps the dish hot after plating and this fits the bill. TBH I made some small mods on quantities but otherwise ingredients are the same. Buon Appetito!

  2. 5 stars
    Finally got my hands on guanciale instead of using pancetta and what a difference it makes. Simple but incredibly tasty. Thank you

  3. Rosemary- Rose, I follow your culinary ventures with great interest. We love Italian food. My recipe box is laden with your surprises.

    That said, I am at a loss as to how much water is in your Ladle? I have several sizes up to 1 cup. But of course, we Americans always think in terms of Ounces or cups.

    I realize I could guess and add as needed, but it is quicker to be right the first time. 😉

    1. Hi DJ, so sorry about that, I have trying to correct those, because you are absolutely right about the different sizes. So it should be 1/3-1/2 cup. I updated the recipe now. Thanks, and so happy you like the recipes. Take care. I hope you enjoy the pasta!

  4. Rosemary in the recipe Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara what is “Guanciale” I am Italian but do not know and would like to try this recipe.

    1. Hi Elena, guanciale is pig cheek jowl, I actually explain it in the post. If you prefer you can substitute with pancetta. Hope that helps. Take care and Happy New Year!

  5. 5 stars
    Absolutely love the recipe. Made it for my family and it was a huge hit! I just had a question about leftovers. If I have extra left over after dinner what’s the best way to reheat it the next day? On the stove or is the microwave fine?

  6. 5 stars
    Recently bought some imported guanciale from Italy and this is the first dish I made with it. Outstanding recipe, thanks for posting!

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