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Classic Carbonara

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8 slices bacon
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti pasta

Classic Carbonara

Classic Carbonara is made of spaghetti pasta tossed with a rich egg and cream sauce, then dotted with crisp bacon and coated in salty Parm.

  • Serves 4
  • Easy

About This Recipe

I was trying to find my recipe for Classic Carbonara, but it’s not here! While I have recipes for Tortellini Carbonara, Blue Cheese Spaghetti Carbonara, Spaghetti Carbonara with Meatballs, and Pesto Spaghetti Carbonara, there is no recipe for the original version. Not any more.

This wonderful recipe is similar to many recipes, but I have fiddled with it over the years and I think this is perfect. The creamy egg mixture coats the tender strands of spaghetti, while crisp bacon adds a salty punch. A tiny bit of nutmeg adds an elusive warmth to the recipe. This is a recipe that can’t wait for people to sit down at the table. They have to be ready and waiting for it.

I have always thought that the heat of the pasta cooked the eggs enough to make them safe, but it turns out that’s not the case. If you are concerned about  food safety, as I am, choose pasteurized eggs and your recipe will be safe as well as delicious. Just make sure to follow the expiration dates on those eggs to the letter.

This isn’t a dish that you can make ahead of time. But if you have leftovers, refrigerate them promptly, then make a frittata with the pasta. Just add it to the eggs as they cook, and the pasta will get hot and tender again, and will give a wonderful texture to your frittata.

How to make the best Classic Carbonara

  • Make sure that the bacon is cooked and crumbled, the Parmesan cheese is grated, and the egg and cream mixture is ready before the pasta cooks. The second the pasta is ready, you must toss it with the egg and cream mixture.
  • Cook the pasta just until it reaches al dente – the pasta will be tender but with a bit of firmness in the center. You have to taste the pasta to make sure.
  • Use a spring loaded tongs to toss the pasta gently but thoroughly with the egg and cream mixture.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.


Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, drain on paper towels, crumble, and set aside. Take the skillet off the heat.


Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the skillet.


In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, egg, cream, half of the Parmesan cheese, and the nutmeg and beat well with a wire whisk.


Now cook the pasta in the salted boiling water until just al dente. Put the skillet back on low heat when about a minute is left. When the pasta is done, reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink. Immediately add the pasta to the skillet with the bacon fat.


Whisk the egg mixture again briefly and add to the skillet. Toss the pasta and egg mixture together, scraping the pan with the tongs to remove pan drippings. Add pasta cooking water as needed to make a creamy sauce.


Add the reserved bacon and the remaining Parmesan cheese and toss again to mix. Serve immediately.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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