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How to Make Pasta Carbonara

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Learning to make an authentic carbonara sauce isn’t just an incredible experience … it’s a must! The process is simple, but just as important as the integrity of the ingredients themselves. This traditional Italian dish is made in just a few steps, but each step requires some attention to detail.

Carbonara is made by combining hot, just-cooked pasta (al dente, of course) with pork that has been sautéed in olive oil. Next, you add in a generous mixture of beaten eggs* and grated hard Italian cheese. The ratio of whole eggs to egg yolks is important to note. (We’ve included a guide to this ratio below.) When introduced, the eggs should just start to curdle—this is what gives carbonara its signature natural creaminess. If not, this is where your hot, pasta-cooking water comes in to play. With just a few tablespoons of this hot, starchy pasta water, your carbonara sauce becomes the luscious, creamy masterpiece it’s famous for.

Carbonara is a dish that needs to be made and enjoyed. All of your guests should be sitting at the table, ready and awaiting its arrival. The sauce tends to dry out as it cools, so enjoying carbonara while it’s piping hot is crucial!

Whole Egg to Egg Yolk Ratio Guide

When creating a carbonara, the amount of eggs (both whole and yolk only) is key to a successful creamy texture. Just enough egg whites will give the hot pasta the ideal texture and appearance, but too much will make it curdle. The egg yolks help to bind the fat from the pork to the sauce, creating a smooth, creamy texture. Here is our guide to ensure the best, velvety results.

Carbonara for 1 = 1 Whole Egg
Carbonara for 2 = 1 Whole Egg + 1 Egg Yolk
Carbonara for 3 = 1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Yolks
Carbonara for 4 = 1 Whole Egg + 3 Egg Yolks
Carbonara for 5 = 2 Whole Eggs + 3 Egg Yolks

To simplify, remember that it’s 1 whole egg for every 4 people and 1 yolk each.

Step 1: In a large serving bowl, combine egg mixture (whole and yolks), cheese and black pepper.

Four eggs cracked into a bowl
Cheese is floating on top of the blended egg mixture
Cheese is mixed into the egg mixture

Step 2: Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add the pork (guanciale, pancetta or bacon), and then, sauté until it becomes golden brown.

Step 3: Cook pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked to that signature al dente texture, scoop out 2 cups of hot pasta water and set aside. Then, drain the pasta.

Pork being fried in a pan
A small amount of salt is poured into boiling water
Noodles being stirred in a pot of boiling water

Step 4: In the serving bowl with the egg mixture, add the hot pasta and sautéed pancetta with oil.

The pork in a pan is sitting next to the bowl of egg and cheese mixture
The pork is added into the egg and cheese mixture
The noodles are added into the mixture

Step 5: Toss gently to cook the eggs with the hot ingredients.*

*If the dish appears too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water—a little at a time.

The noodles, egg mixture, and pork are all mixed together

Step 6: Serve and enjoy immediately!

Do you want more carbonara inspiration? Click here!

Need some more inspiration? Check our gallery of recipes!