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Carbonara sauce

Authentic Carbonara Sauce

  • Author: Silvana Lanzetta
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 portions 1x


Carbonara sauce stands as one of the most beloved and iconic Italian recipes, cherished both internationally and within Italy. While there exist numerous variations, the authentic Roman recipe remains simple, featuring only eggs, pecorino cheese, and guanciale. Consider trying this exquisite dish for a sumptuous Sunday lunch – it’s bound to swiftly become a firm favourite!



360 grams spaghetti

120 grams guanciale

5 egg yolks

120 grams grated Pecorino Romano

Salt & pepper (to taste)


  1. To prepare carbonara sauce, begin by prepping the guanciale. Trim off the rind and any overly peppery sections to prevent burning while cooking. Then, dice it into half-centimetre cubes.
  2. In a non-stick pan, fry the guanciale in its own fat over medium heat until it becomes slightly crispy. Be careful not to brown it too much.

  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks. Lightly season with salt and pepper.

  4. Stir in the finely grated pecorino Romano cheese until a thick cream is formed. Add the cooked guanciale to the mixture and set aside.

  5. Cook the spaghetti or bucatini in boiling salted water until it is “al dente”. Reserve about 100ml of the cooking water before draining the pasta.

  6. Immediately after draining the pasta, transfer it to the bowl with the egg mixture. The residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. Add a little bit of the reserved cooking water to the bowl and mix well to coat all the pasta evenly. If the sauce is too thick, add more cooking water. If it’s too runny, stir in more cheese.

  7. Taste the pasta and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.

  8. Serve the carbonara immediately, sprinkled with extra grated pecorino Romano cheese and freshly milled black pepper.


For this recipe, it’s crucial never to use Parmesan cheese or Grana Padano.

If you’re unable to find guanciale, pancetta makes a suitable alternative.

Avoid adding cream to the recipe; instead, rely on the generous amount of grated Pecorino for its creaminess. 

For perfect creaminess, aim for around 20 grams of egg yolk per 60-70 grams of uncooked pasta.

If you’re concerned about consuming undercooked eggs, you can opt for an alternative method. Try tossing the spaghetti and egg mixture in a stainless steel bowl over a bain-marie at 80°C (176°F) for a short time. This gentle heat allows for pasteurisation and thickening of the mixture without reaching boiling point, thus avoiding the risk of curdling the eggs.

Traditionally, carbonara sauce is served with spaghetti. You can use bucatini or linguine if you like, but avoid egg tagliatelle: the sauce is very rich, and you want to keep its canvas (i.e. pasta) simple.

Since it contains lightly cooked eggs, carbonara cannot be stored.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian
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