Chef John's Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe -
Chef John's Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe
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How to Make Spaghetti alla Carbonara
See how to make simple spaghetti with bacon and egg sauce! See more
  • READY IN 25 mins

Chef John's Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Recipe by  

"Spaghetti alla carbonara's creamy sauce is simply a thin egg and cheese custard, spiked with pork and black pepper. Try to find pancetta or guanciale (pork cheek cured like pancetta) for a really authentic taste!"

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 2 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    5 mins
  • COOK

    20 mins

    25 mins


  1. Cook guanciale with olive oil and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Whisk eggs, 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  4. Pour reserved pasta water and drained spaghetti into the bacon-pepper mixture; stir to combine.
  5. Slowly pour egg mixture into the pasta mixture; cook, stirring constantly until the egg mixture forms a thick sauce, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. Stir remaining 3 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese into the pasta mixture and serve.
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  • Cook's Note:
  • You can substitute pancetta for the guanciale. Or in a pinch, use bacon.

Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Aug 17, 2012

When I make carbonara, I always add about a cup of chopped yellow onion to the bacon as it fries. That combination is delicious. I also use chicken broth instead of pasta water, as it adds more flavor, and only add the cheese at the end, along with about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley.

Most Helpful Critical Review
May 24, 2012

I have never made this before and I think I made a big mistake by upping the servings to 8. There was waaay too much pasta to stir as instructed. Definately don't try to up the servings so much as I did! The people I made it for enjoyed it, but personally I wish I would have stuck with the actual recipe amt.

May 05, 2012

Surprisingly, I've never had spaghetti alla carbonara before. So, I don't have anything to compare this to. I know where I can buy pancetta at but it was too far away and I was feeling lazy. So, I used thick bacon. I, like chef John in the video, used whole wheat spaghetti. I enjoyed this simple dish even though I messed up a little and my cream curdled a bit. I didn't lower my heat as low as I should have and I didn't constantly stir. So, do as Chef John said!!! :o)

Apr 30, 2012

Very easy, simple ingredients, great to see the video also. I added a little diced onion with the bacon and seared cubed chicken tenderloins with the pasta; it tasted just like a nearby restaurant's carbonara. Wasn't too sure about adding the pasta water, but it was a great tip; made the sauce just the right consistency! Perfect amount for two people. Thanks for the recipe!

Sep 26, 2012

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is not difficult to make and requires just a few simple, but standard, required ingredients. It really does not vary much from one recipe to the next. This recipe is a fundamental, basic reference recipe. I find it a little easier to mix the (room temperature) egg and cheese in a bowl and then add the cooked pasta to that mixture (rather than the other way around). I stir in the cooked meat, be it guanciale, pancetta or bacon, at the end. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if the sauce seems a little dry – the dish should be creamy, but not swimming in sauce. I just returned from Italy, where I was lucky enough to enjoy this pasta dish with guanciale, which comes from the jowls of the pig. I admit it sounded unappealing when I first tried it years ago, but only because it was unfamiliar. It is the best and by comparison neither pancetta nor bacon measure up. Unfortunately, it is hard to find here in the states. In its absence I’ve used pancetta, as I did tonight, other times bacon, and I have to say that if I can’t have this with guanciale I prefer bacon over the pancetta. I found this recipe a little heavy on the cheese for my taste, so I backed off on it by about one-third. Nothing innovative about this recipe – but because this is a classic dish, it shouldn’t be.

May 23, 2012

I made some changes to it. added garlic to the bacon and a little bit of white wine. Little Cilantro on top. Came out great! Love this recipe!!!

Jun 05, 2012

I'm a cooking novice so I was intimidated at first. However, the video and instructions help more than you'll know. I was nervous about the sauce and about the whole prep, but it was really easy to make and beautiful to look at. I served it with some steamed broccoli and it was a hit. The only thing I did different was that I used thick-cut bacon since I'm on a college budget, but I thought it turned out really well. Apparently so did my family.

Aug 21, 2012

Okay...this is very easy. I add alter mine, as reviewing other comments, added a medium onion diced and 3-4 minced garlic gloves, and used non-smoked bacon. I did just used freshly grated parmigian cheese. I also doubled the recipe, I would not in the future double the water... It turned out creamy and yummy... please note... do NOT skimp on the ground black pepper... the result is fantastic as is!!! I can see using leftover chicken instead of the bacon, or even left over steak... I will definitely be making this again!!!


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  • Calories
  • 688 kcal
  • 34%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 66.1 g
  • 21%
  • Cholesterol
  • 220 mg
  • 73%
  • Fat
  • 30.3 g
  • 47%
  • Fiber
  • 3.2 g
  • 13%
  • Protein
  • 36.3 g
  • 73%
  • Sodium
  • 984 mg
  • 39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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