Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara

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The classic Italian authentic Spaghetti Carbonara pasta recipe is made only with pancetta, eggs, Parmesan and lots of black pepper, and of course al dente spaghetti. The cleverness in the dish lies in its simplicity. It is the ultimate mid-week main course dish when you think you have nothing to cook in the house.

Serves 4


200g pancetta
400g spaghetti
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites
160g Parmesan, grated
Black pepper, freshly ground


1. Boil the water for the pasta and add a heavy pinch of salt – the water should be as salty as the ocean when you cook pasta.

2. Remove the rind from the pancetta and cut it into small dice. Fry until crispy.

3.When the water has come to a rolling boil, add the spaghetti.

4. Mix the egg yolks and egg whites with the Parmesan in a bowl that is large enough to fit the cooked spaghetti. Add a generous amount of black pepper – you should see lots of black pepper specks in the final dish.

5. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the egg mixture. Add the pancetta and the oil from the pan. Toss and add more black pepper if you need too. Serve immediately.

Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara recipe tips

– Always use fresh eggs and freshly ground black pepper.

– If you like, you can mix two cheeses eg Parmesan and Pecorino or Grana Padano. You can also use Grana Padano on its own.

– Make sure that the bowl you are going to use to mix the pasta and eggs and cheese together is warm so the egg and cheese mixture doesn’t congeal when you add the pasta.

– Pancetta is the meat used in the authentic recipe but only an unkind soul would say that you can’t use a rasher or even chopped ham if that is what you have in the fridge. What matters is the method and using the best ingredients to make a nourishing home-cooked fast meal, not whether your pancetta has been shipped over from Italy!

– When you look at our image above, you’ll see the egg mixed with the Parmesan and black pepper before the mixture is added to the pasta and pancetta in the saucepan. The little black specks are freshly ground black pepper – this is how your mixture should look when you make it at home.

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