An Authentic Spaghetti Alla Carbonara Recipe You Should Try

This authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara recipe is the most delicious dinner idea that will remind you why you and your family need to vacation in Rome, Italy.

Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Eggs

Eggs For The Carbonara

Today’s recipe is a Roman classic, and it is one of the four traditional pasta dishes of Rome, Pasta alla Carbonara. I’m choosing to use spaghetti for this version, but there are other pasta options that are equally delicious and traditional. I’ve written about the classic pasta of Rome previously, and for more background on these dishes you should definitely check out that post. For this post I want to focus more on the preparation of this classic Roman pasta.

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This Carbonara recipe is a little more difficult to prepare than some of my previously detailed recipes, but before this scares you off, I’ll explain a little about why I think this way. Obviously boiling pasta is simple, but the sauce can be a little tricky to prepare. It isn’t about the measurements of the ingredients as much as it is the “feel” when you are working with the eggs and cheese. I’ve made this dish a few times and I feel like I still have room to improve, although I don’t mind trying again and again because it is so delicious.

There are some variations to this recipe that I will include below which allow for testing the combinations of which pasta you use, how creamy you like the sauce and the crunchiness of the guanciale. Luckily for all of us, even the mistakes are delicious!

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

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Recommendations For Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Which Pasta To Choose

In Rome, spaghetti seems to be the most common pasta used with Carbonara, but it is not wrong, by Italian standards, to use another. I’m using spaghetti for this recipe, but if I’m being completely honest, I prefer a bronze die rigatoni, like from Molisana (not a sponsor). You can also use bucatini without getting scolded by a Roman.

Pasta Pot with Strainer

Perfect for cooking pasta, this pot can be used to cook a range of meals you will love!

A quick look around at other online recipes shows that you can easily get bad advice. For authenticity, you should not use: linguini, a “spaghetti-like” pasta and definitely not fusilli, lasagna or tonnarelli.

What Is Authentic Carbonara Sauce Made Of?

This is not the first recipe I’ve written about that uses guanciale, but I continue to be excited to need to buy guanciale because of how delicious I know it will be.

authentic spaghetti alla carbonara - Guanciale

Sauté The Guanciale

If you are unfamiliar with guanciale, it is cured pork cheek that has been salted and rubbed with spices. It is an amazing ingredient that is foundational here in Rome. Three of the four classic pasta in Rome dishes (Amatriciana, Carbonara and Gricia) use guanciale.

If you watch enough YouTube and various cooking shows, you will hear “cooks” say that for Carbonara you can use pancetta or bacon, but this just isn’t so. I understand that finding guanciale outside of a “Little Italy” section of a bigger city can be challenging, but it is not the same and it is worth the extra effort to find it. Pancetta is too subtle for this dish, so if you can’t find guanciale, bacon is an OK substitute, as is speck.

Which Cheese For Your Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe?

The choice of cheeses is simpler and an opportunity to try out some of your favorite proportions. If you notice, I wrote “proportions” and didn’t say you can choose whatever cheese you want, because traditionally the dish was served only with Pecorino Romano, which is a sheep’s milk cheese, but gradually it was combined with Parmigiano Reggiano, which is a cow’s milk cheese.

Frying Pan – 12 Inch

This All-Clad pan is waiting for anyone who wants to check out professional gear at home.

According to some chefs such, as Luciano Monosilio (check out the Best Dinner Restaurants In Rome), for a balanced and not too aggressive dish, it is good to mix parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano in a 2:1 ratio. I prefer a stronger flavor, so I would use more (or only) pecorino romano.

Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Crunchy Guanciale

Sauté The Guanciale Until Crunchy

There is generally agreement online that there are no other options for which cheese to use, only differences in the proportions between these two alternatives.

Are There Herbs And Seasoning In This Carbonara Recipe?

Salt and Pepper are all you will need here. It has a strong black peppery taste and the dish will get salt from the pasta water, guanciale and cheese, so be careful not to overdo it, and continue to taste it repeatedly while you are preparing it.

Possible Additions Or Alterations To This Carbonara Recipe

Once you make this dish and decide that you, like me, LOVE guanciale, you might want to double the guanciale that the recipe calls for. This is ok, but with one caveat. You will need to check on the amount of fat that is rendered when you sauté the guanciale, because that will obviously double, so you will want to remove enough as to keep your Carbonara from being too oily.

I mentioned that bacon can be used, but only if you can’t find guanciale. I am probably overstating this, but once you taste the crunchy guanciale, I’m sure you will understand my insistence. That being said, I have actually eaten Carbonara here in Rome and the guanciale was substituted with something like pancetta or bacon. This is a sign of a lower quality restaurant and should be avoided when possible.

authentic spaghetti alla carbonara - dish

Spaghetti Carbonara with Guanciale and Light Sauce

Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe

  • Difficulty: Easy+
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4

The Ingredients In Authentic Carbonara

  • Spaghetti, 1 Box (450g or 16oz.)
  • Eggs (Yolks only), 6 Large
  • Guanciale, Diced (240g or 8 oz.)
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese (100g or 4 oz.)
  • Black Pepper and Salt, to taste

How To Make Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara

  1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil.
  2. Trim the guanciale, removing skin and hard bits, and cut the guanciale into Batons.
  3. Sauté the guanciale in a larger frying pan until brown. Remove the pieces and leave the rendered guanciale fat in the pan.
  4. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and set the timing for the al dente cooking time on the package.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, mix the egg yolks and cheese together in a large mixing bowl. Add a little bit of the rendered fat to the mixture to add creaminess.
  6. When the spaghetti is nearing completion, take some starchy pasta water and add 1 ladle to the cheese and egg mixture a little at a time. You don’t want to scramble these eggs, so only a little at a time while vigorously stirring. Keep adding only a little at a time until the mixture is as creamy as you would like it.
  7. When the pasta is al dente, remove it from the water and add it to the large mixing bowl with the cheese and eggs. Stir everything together well and add half of the crunchy guanciale.
  8. When plating, put a small mound of the spaghetti on a plate with tongs (or those giant tweezers that are popular), twisting to keep it together, and add a few bits of the remaining crunchy guanciale on top.

These Are A Couple Of The Best Pasta Recipes You Should Try

In addition to more details on the classic Roman pasta dishes, and a recipe for making authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara at home, you should check out some other great restaurants in Rome for your next visit.

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