Spaghetti Carbonara

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Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is one of my absolute favourite, fall-back meals. By that I mean a meal that I can whip up in minutes with ingredients I have in my fridge/freezer with guaranteed success. It’s a really simple pasta but delivers big on flavour and ‘mmmm’-factor.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Because this pasta is so simple however, it is necessary that you use only the very best quality ingredients you can get your hands on/afford. I suggest using dry cured, smoked streaky bacon, free-range eggs, strong Pecorino and the freshest cream possible. It’s also important to note that I am by no means an ‘authentic’ cook who sticks to traditions when I’m busy in the kitchen. I like to add ingredients to my food that I enjoy and so, I use cream (which is a no-no to a lot of people) and garlic in my sauce. Of course you could omit these and the sauce would still be delicious but I am under the impression that pasta needs garlic and since it’s me eating the finished dish, I add them.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Also, traditionally Guanciale or Pancetta is used but since it’s not readily available in SA (and quite expensive when you do find it), I suggest using good quality bacon. If the thought of raw eggs freak you out, remember that you are going to toss the hot pasta and bacon with the cream & egg sauce which will effectively cook the egg. It is not necessary for you to place the pan over heat as this will make the eggs ‘scramble’ and the sauce will split. You can trust me on this though, I am not a fan of that raw egg taste and with this, there is none of that.

Spaghetti Carbonara

I like to finish my Carbonara off with a sprinkling of freshly chopped Italian/Flat-leaf parsley and serve it in big bowls with lots of red wine.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4

250g dry cured, smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 free-range eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) cream
1 cup grated Pecorino cheese
freshly cracked black pepper
large handful chopped Italian parsley
500g spaghetti/linguini, cooked and drained (reserve 1 cup of cooking water)

  1.  While the spaghetti cooks, make the sauce.
  2. Fry the bacon in a large, non-stick frying pan until starting to go crisp ( I prefer not to use any oil/butter when frying the bacon as it contains so much fat already). Add the garlic and fry for another minute or two and remove the pan from the heat. Set aside.
  3. In a jug/bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, Pecorino, salt & pepper.
  4. When the spaghetti is cooked, toss it with the bacon (and all it’s cooked-out fat) and the cream mixture until the pasta is coated with the sauce and the sauce has thickened slightly. If the pasta looks dry, add some of the reserved cooking water.
  5. Adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve scattered with chopped parsley.

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Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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  • Delia Jordaan

    I also love Carbonara for its simplicity and the speed in which it is all achieved. On various occations I follow a Jamie Olover recipe which calls for the addition of frozen peas to the pasta a minute before the pasta is completely cooked. The peas add a deliciously sweet note to the otherwise saltyyness of the bacon and cheese flavours. I simply love the combo and at least a veggie has sneaked into the dish.

    • Ally_R

      Delia, I can imagine how delicious the peas must be. I also know of a lot of people who add mushrooms or spinach as well.

  • Nos

    So easy! This I must try

    • Ally_R

      Let me know what you think once you have Nos! x

      • Nos

        Made it tonight and loved it! Thanks Alida :)

  • Anneke

    Hi Ally, Carbonara is also one of my favorites. So easy yet sooo much comfort! Beautiful pics!

  • Susan Geldenhuys

    It’s the 1st time i’ve tried to make this and it was delicious!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Sal

    Tried and tested. This recipe was absolutely AWESOME!!!! Well done :)

    • Ally_R

      So glad you liked it Sal!

  • Katie

    Awesome recipe :)
    I love a good carbonara… Here’s another one you might like to try
    Fettucinne Carbonara Recipe
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Lola

    I’d like to try this, but do the eggs remain raw or do they cook at any point?

    • Alida Ryder

      They get cooked by the hot spaghetti and the warm pan you pour the egg mixture into. As you toss the spaghetti in the sauce, the egg will start to thicken and make a creamy sauce.

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

    Love this! I’m not sure if I can get my hands on some good-quality bacon but I will definitely be able to get some amazing pancetta at my local deli!

  • Alida Ryder

    Natalia, you can use Heavy cream or whipping cream for the sauce.

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