Spaghetti alla carbonara

Sally serves up the classic Italian pasta recipe, spaghetti alla carbonara. Although there are many theories about its origins, some say the name is derived from the Italian word for a charcoal burner – 'carbonaro' – a reference to its historic popularity with charcoal workers. Regardless of its origins, spaghetti carbonara is perhaps the ultimate Italian fast food, perfect for a comforting midweek meal.

First published in 2016

Spaghetti carbonara is one of the most well known, yet often poorly executed, Italian dishes outside of Italy. Too often the pasta is doused in ladles of rich double cream and passed off as carbonara, when actually all that is required is eggs and Parmesan to make a lovely creamy sauce. Add some black pepper and pancetta and you have a super tasty yet easy supper.

The key here is to make sure the egg mixture is added off the heat to prevent it from curdling, and to serve it straight away. Simple, delicious and comforting, carbonara is always a winner.





  • 200g of spaghetti
  • 75g of Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano, finely grated, plus extra to serve
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75g of pancetta, or guanciale, cut into lardons
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt
  • black pepper


Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes
Meanwhile, mix together the Parmesan and egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside
Cook the pancetta in a large frying pan until crispy. Once cooked, reserve the pancetta and the fat that has been released during cooking separately
Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a ladleful of the pasta water and drain the pasta
Transfer the pasta to the pancetta frying pan and add the reserved pancetta fat and minced garlic. Gently heat the pan then remove from the heat and quickly stir through the egg yolk and Parmesan mixture. Add a little of the pasta water to emulsify the sauce
Mix well then add the pancetta and black pepper to taste. Add a little more pasta water if necessary
Serve immediately with some more freshly grated Parmesan

Discover more about this region's cuisine:

After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.

You may also like

Load more