Spaghetti Carbonara

This is one of my family’s favorite meals! With only a few ingredients—bacon, eggs, pasta, garlic, and parmesan—it tastes decadent but is actually quite a humble dish.

When making pasta dishes I sometimes like to use half wheat and half white pasta. The white pasta alone is not filling enough for me, while too much of the wheat pasta can taste “too wheaty” or dense.

By mixing both, I get a little bit more fiber and heartiness from the wheat, and lovely chewiness from the white.

As for bacon, I use regular bacon because it’s readily available at my grocery store. However, guanciale, an Italian cured pork is traditionally used in carbonara. If you can find some, try it for an authentic flavor. I’ve also seen people use pancetta.

One of my favorite tips for bacon is to cut it while it is slightly frozen.

here’s how To do it:

  • Divide fresh bacon into batches or portions, wrapping each portion with parchment paper.
  • Place portions in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze. When it’s time to cook, take out one portion and leave at room temp for 5-10 minutes. Then dice.

how to make Spaghetti Carbonara

Start by adding water and a few pinches of salt to a large pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. When the water starts boiling, add 8-10 ounces dry spaghetti and cook according to package.

While pasta is cooking, place 4 slices of diced bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until the bacon is browned well.

While the bacon is cooking whisk together 2 whole eggs or 2 yolks, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Set this aside.

When the bacon is almost done, add in 4 cloves of minced/crusehd garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds or until the garlic becomes fragrant.

If the bacon is done before the pasta, take the skillet off the heat and wait until the pasta is ready.

When the pasta is done, use tongs or a pasta fork to transfer it directly into pan with the bacon, turning the heat back on. Set aside the pasta water in the pot to use later.

Sauté the spaghetti along with the bacon for about 2 minutes.

Then turn off heat. While vigorously stirring the pasta with a wooden spoon, slowly pour in the egg parmesan mixture. Continue stirring until a creamy sauce forms. If the sauce looks too thick, add in ¼ cup reserved pasta water to loosen it up.

Season with salt and more black pepper if desired. Garnish with herbs.

Whether you choose wheat pasta or white pasta, or regular bacon or guanciale, make sure to serve this dish with a side of crusty bread to wipe up any extra creamy sauce.

What My Kids Say:
9 year-old: “The sauce has a nice creamy texture and the bacon adds salty flavor.”
7 year-old: “I like the bacon because it’s salty.”

here are some other pasta dishes to try

Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta
Mushrooms, garlic, and cheese? What’s not to love?
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen plate of creamy garlic mushroom pasta with herbs and parmesan.
Tortellini and Sausage with Spinach
Tortellini, spicy sausage, and fresh spinach all come together in a creamy sauce.
Check out this recipe
Skillet with tortellini and sausage in creamy spinach sauce.
Creamy Tuna Pasta with Peas
A kid-friendly pasta dish made with canned tuna, peas, and a creamy sauce. 
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen plate with creamy tuna pasta and peas.
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach
This pasta dish utilizes fresh summer tomatoes and baby spinach. 
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of pasta with mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, spinach.

Spaghetti carbonara on plate.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Joby’s Test Kitchen
Creamy pasta dish made with crisp bacon, eggs, and parmesan.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 413 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8-10 oz dry whole wheat or white spaghetti (I use half of each)
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed in garlic press
  • 2 whole eggs or only yolks
  • ½ cup (1 oz) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnish:

  • parsley, chives, or scallions

Instructions
 

  • Boil water and cook pasta according to package.
  • While pasta is cooking, place the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant.
  • In the meantime, whisk together eggs, parmesan, and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • If the bacon is done before the pasta, take the skillet off the heat and wait till pasta is ready.
  • When pasta is done, use tongs or pasta fork to transfer spaghetti directly into pan with the bacon, turning the heat back on. Set aside the pasta water in the pot to use later.
  • Sauté the spaghetti along with the bacon for about 2 minutes.
  • Turn off heat. While vigorously stirring the pasta with a wooden spoon, slowly pour in the egg parmesan mixture. Continue stirring until a creamy sauce forms. If the sauce looks too thick, add in ¼ cup reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
  • Season with salt and more black pepper if desired. Garnish with herbs if desired, though this is not traditionally done.

Notes

Bacon: It is much easier to cut bacon while it is slightly frozen. Divide fresh bacon into batches or portions, wrapping each with parchment paper. Place portions in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze. Then take out one portion and leave at room temp for 5-10 minutes. Then dice.
Alternative to Bacon: Traditionally guanciale, a dry cured pork, is used in this dish. Another option is pancetta. 
Keyword bacon, carbonara, pasta, spaghetti

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