Spaghetti alla Carbonara

A quick and simple dish, carbonara is a delicious, creamy pasta which has become popular around the world. While there are many recipes with cream, onion, garlic and other ingredients, traditionally, carbonara is made from guanciale, eggs, pecorino romano and black pepper.

Guanciale is essentially a bacon made from the pork cheeks and cured with salt, sugar, and spices. It's quite a fatty meat and has more flavour that bacon alone. Saying that, if you're struggling to find guanciale, you can substitute bacon in the recipe. Just choose a fatty bacon which hasn't been smoked and the pasta will still be delicious.

Pecorino Romano is the cheese traditionally used in carbonara, however if you need to find a substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano also works well. This recipe uses the spaghetti, but feel free to use a different pasta if you prefer - fettuccine is a popular choice.


  • 400g spaghetti
  • 150g guanciale
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g finely grated pecorino romano
  • salt
  • pepper


  1. 1
    Slice the guanciale into strips 1 or 2 centimeters thick using a sharp knife. Cook in a large pan for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the fat renders.
  2. 2
    While the guanciale is cooking, bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the spaghetti. Salt the water moderately.
  3. 3
    In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the pecorino until creamy.
  4. 4
    Just before the spaghetti is completely cooked, transfer the pasta to the pan with the containing the guanciale. Completely coat the pasta in the oils in the pan. Reserve the pasta water.
  5. 5
    Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then add the egg mixture to the spaghetti along with a couple of tablespoons of cooking water - this helps make a creamy sauce. Mix quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. After a minute or two, you should have a creamy sauce.
  6. 6
    Season to taste with salt and freshly-group black pepper. Sprinkle some additional pecorino over the top if desired.

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Roxanne de Bruyn

Author - Roxanne de Bruyn

Roxanne is the founder and editor of Faraway Worlds. She is a freelance writer and guidebook author and has written for several travel publications, including Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and The Culture Trip. With a background in communications, she has studied ancient history, comparative religion and international development, and has a particular interest in sustainable tourism.

Originally from South Africa, Roxanne has travelled widely and loves learning the stories of the places she visits. She enjoys cooking, dance and yoga, and usually travels with her husband and young son. She is based in New Zealand.

Last Updated 3 May 2022


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