Bacon Carbonara Pasta is a classic Italian dish with creamy egg sauce, noodles, eggs and bacon topped with Parmesan cheese in 30 minutes.
A quick and easy recipe for spaghetti carbonara topped with bacon and peas made without intimidation! This recipe is as easy as making the pasta and bacon and tossing it together with rich egg yolks and a bit of reserved pasta water to make the creamiest, easiest sauce ever. It’s like stepping into Rome, Italy with the benefit of it taking as long as a normal weeknight dinner.
One of the most intimidating things about making carbonara pasta is the egg sauce. People worry about scrambling the eggs or eating raw eggs because of the heat of the pasta. This recipe has been tested multiple times before publishing, with pasta tossed with the eggs even taking an extra minute or so, tossing it slower or faster, trying to come up with the easiest approach.
The only version that ended with scrambled eggs was pouring in the eggs directly into the pan fully before tossing, which is not how the directions are written. By following the directions below you’ll end up with a wonderful creamy pasta that doesn’t curdle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pasta water is saved for this Carbonara Pasta because the extra starch in the water from the cooking process helps to create a creamier sauce. This makes it easy to create a thick, rich sauce without waiting for anything to cook down or without adding a lot of cream or excess cheese.
Remember to cook pasta al-dente, this means with a bite. The recipe instructs that pasta should be cooked one minute shy of the instructions on the box for this reason. As you toss ingredients together and finish the recipe your pasta will finish cooking naturally instead of becoming overcooked. If you like eating pasta al-dente then try cooking 2 minutes shy of the directions before draining the pasta.
This recipe shines because of its simplicity, but it also requires the use of good ingredients. You’ll want to use thick cut bacon, or even high quality standard cut bacon. Use a freshly ground black pepper, the bigger the grind the more bold the flavor (shaker black pepper will hurt this recipe). Use shaved parmesan (or Romano) instead of grated for a less gritty texture.
There are many recipe variations of carbonara that are not traditional (including cream cheese or mozzarella cheese), but the traditional variety seen here including a raw egg mixture being mixed and brought to a sage temperature by the heat of the pasta. For a fully traditional option, use pancetta instead of bacon, and skip the peas.
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Variations on Traditional Carbonara Recipe Ingredients:
- Peas: Carbonara is wonderful with peas, but you can certainly skip the peas. Add them in frozen as you toss the pasta as they will thaw quickly.
- Garlic Cloves: While not traditional you can of course add them in as raw, roasted or cook them in olive oil or bacon fat first.
- Pecorino Romano Cheese: If you have it on hand or don’t like Parmesan Cheese, you can use Romano in its place.
- Fresh Parsley: An easy topping, but not needed as the parsley flavor will overpower the egg yolk flavor.
- White Wine: You can of course add this in place of or in addition to the pasta water, but the starch in the reserved cooking water helps the creamy texture of the sauce.
- Whole Eggs: There is never a reason to add whole eggs to this recipe. If you see a recipe call for it, look to another recipe unless they call for it in the creation of fresh pasta.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream can be used if you are avoiding the use of raw eggs to create a creamy cheese sauce.
- Olive Oil: No need to use oil in this recipe since you aren’t cooking anything in fat, but if you’re adding any additional vegetables you can certainly add olive oil or cook them in the bacon fat.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
- Ultimate Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- Ultimate Beef Stroganoff
- Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese
- Classic American Goulash
Tools used in the Making of Bacon Carbonara Pasta
Cast Iron Skillet: This is my most used pan in my kitchen, heavy, keeps heat well.
Chef’s Knife: This knife is one of the three most used tools in my kitchen.
Tongs: are great for tossing all the eggs and cheese together without making a mess.
How to Store Bacon Carbonara Pasta
- Serve: Do not leave Bacon Carbonara Pasta at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
- Store: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
- Freeze: It is not recommended to freeze this recipe, as the pasta will become mushy and the sauce will change texture.
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 10 slices bacon , cut into small pieces
- 3 large eggs , yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 cup Parmesan , shaved
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Cook the pasta in a large pot to one minute less than the directions on the box and keep ½ cup of pasta water to the side to drain pasta (do not rinse pasta).
- In a large skillet add the bacon and cook it until crisp then turn off the heat and remove the bacon with a slotted spoon then add the pasta and toss it in the bacon fat.
- Add the eggs, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese to a large bowl and whisk well before adding slowly while tossing the hot pasta quickly to prevent it from scrambling.
- Add in ¼ cup of the pasta water and peas, tossing again to create a saucy consistency to the pasta then topping with bacon before serving.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.