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+ servings

Easy Spaghetti Carbonara

This easy spaghetti carbonara recipe is a simple dinner that comes together in about 20 minutes!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword easy, pasta carbonara, spaghetti alla carbonara, spaghetti carbonara
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 504kcal
Author Blair Lonergan

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional garnish: additional Parmesan cheese, olive oil, fresh herbs

Instructions

  • Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve the hot cooking water, because you will need it for the sauce later.
  • Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add a ladle of pasta water and simmer on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk in a large bowl. Add the Parmesan and whisk to combine. While whisking, very gradually add a ladle of the pasta water to temper the eggs. Set aside.
  • When the pasta is al dente, add the pasta straight from the water to the bacon in the skillet (reserving the pasta cooking water in the pot). Remove from the heat; season with black pepper, to taste.
  • Stir the egg mixture into the pasta and toss gently to coat. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit more pasta water. Garnish with extra Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, or chopped fresh herbs.

Notes

  • Salt the pasta water once it starts to boil. This is your opportunity to season the pasta itself, and you'll also want the water to have a little bit of salt in it when you use it for the sauce later.
  • Do not discard the pasta cooking water. You'll need this starchy liquid to thin the sauce, so it's important that you don't strain the pasta and dump the water down the drain!
  • Eggs are the star of the show here, so I recommend using the highest quality local, farm-fresh eggs when available. These orange yolks will give the sauce its beautiful golden color.
  • Use freshly-grated Parmesan (not the canned pre-grated stuff), and make sure that it's shredded to a very fine consistency on a microplane, food processor, or the smallest side of a box grater. This will ensure that the Parmesan melts smoothly into the sauce.
  • Make sure that you slowly temper the egg (bring it up to temperature) by gradually whisking in some of the hot pasta water. Then remove the pan from the heat and toss the tempered egg mixture with the hot pasta. This is the key to avoiding scrambled eggs in your sauce!
  • Swap out the spaghetti and toss the carbonara sauce with another pasta such as bucatini, fettuccine, rigatoni or linguine.
  • Instead of bacon, use pancetta or guanciale. These Italian cured meats will not render as much fat in the pan as the bacon, so you'll need to start with about ¼ cup of olive oil in the skillet.
  • If you're using regular bacon instead of thick-cut bacon, you'll need to increase the total amount to about 5 or 6 slices.
  • Add frozen peas at the end for a pop of color and sweetness.
  • Toss the hot pasta with fresh baby spinach for some tender greens in your dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the recipe | Calories: 504kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 621mg | Potassium: 248mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 405IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 332mg | Iron: 2mg