How to make an authentic Carbonara recipe – Roman Classic

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 Authentic Carbonara Recipe – “Spaghetti alla Carbonara”


Before making this Authentic Carbonara recipe – make sure you know how to cook Pasta the Italian way: Add salt to your water after it comes to a boil, and taste the water. If it doesn’t taste like broth, add more salt. Always cook your pasta for 1 min less than what the packaging recommends for “al dente” and even less if you are finishing the pasta in the pan (and adding water)


If you have never been to Italy, or if you have been to Italy and you miss eating an authentic Carbonara this is the recipe for you! In American restaurants carbonara often has cream, peas and other weird stuff. Italian cooking is all about simplicity and execution. The fewer ingredients the better. Romans will sit around and argue about how to make a Carbonara (in fact, I hope this post will generate some arguments). It’s all about timing and little tricks.

Here is our recipe for authentic spaghetti alla carbonara:


1) Spaghetti (De Cecco)
2)  Guanciale ( or Pancetta – Guanciale is fattier and comes from the cheek)
3) 1 egg per person (free range with very yellowfins yolks)
4) pecorino romano (make sure this is authentic DOP or made in Italy link below)
5) Parmigiano Reggiano (also make sure this is the real deal – link below)
6) Olive oil (extra virgin)
7) salt
8) pepper (to taste, but it should be very peppery)

You can use the links below to order good quality products online:

parmigiano reggiano It’s not real Parmigiano Reggiano unless it has the writing on the rind[/caption]


Step 1: Cook Guanciale.

cut your Guanciale into long thick strips. Put the strips in a nice thick pan on medium heat with no oil. You want the fat to render (become clear) and crispy. I find that removing the cooked guanciale once it is done and moving it onto some paper towels helps a lot with the crispyness. Make sure to leave the oil in pan. You will add both things to the pasta later.


You can get a nice big pot of water boiling in the mean time. Salt after it come to a boil so that the water tastes like broth. (More on that later).

Step 3 Prepare Sauce:

In a bowl crack one egg per person

grate 50% parmigiano regiano, and 50% pecorino romano and add it to the eggs. Save a little cheese mixture for plating. Add pepper to taste – more pepper is more authentic. Mix this up and add cheese as necessary to make it a good consistency (you want it to be wet and thick).

Once it your water comes to a boil add lots of salt. If you add the salt early the water will actually come to a boil at a lower temp which is not good. If you are unsure about how much salt to add, a good trick is to taste the water. It should taste like a good chicken broth in terms of saltiness. Add your pasta following the portion recommendations on the box (if you are making more pasta then you may need more eggs). Set a timer to 1 minute less than the recommended “al dente” cook time (for example if the box says ready in 11 min, 9 min for al dente, you should cook it for 8!)

Cook the pasta stirring often. Don’t just leave it unattended.

Here is the cool part:

Step 4 Mix Ingredients and Serve:

When the timer goes off grab some tongs. Do not drain or rinse the pasta in cold water! Again, If you want to be really authentic, use some tongs to start removing the pasta one minute earlier than the recommended “al dente” suggestion. Place the hot pasta directly into the egg cheese and pepper mixture stirring quickly. The heat from the pasta soft boils the egg turning it into a creamy sauce.SAVE THE PASTA WATER IN THE BOWL YOU USED TO COOK THE PASTA. Add the Guanciale and oil to the same bowl and keep mixing. Stir it and make an emulsion. If it is too thick, you can add some pasta water (the starch and salt add to the sauce). If it is too thin you can add more cheese mixture (50/50). You want the sauce to be a little runny, not too dry and not too wet.

Plate the carbonara and add a little more parmigiano/pecorino on top.

La pasta è pronta!

Want to make this recipe more authentic? Let us know in the comments below.



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