Recipes, Local specialties, Pasta

Real carbonara recipe

Real carbonara recipe - in the plate

Carbonara is for sure one of the most famous Italian pasta sauces in the world, and let me tell you, for one reason! A well-executed, authentic carbonara is one of the most delicious things your taste can experience. So, no surprise you are looking for the real carbonara recipe: you are in the right place!

Carbonara etymology

The origin of its name is discussed, as well as the origin of the recipe itself (but this is very typical of highly successful ones).

The most accredited explanation links carbonara name to workers transforming wood into coal (carbone in Italian). It was a common work in the Apennines of Central Italy, between Abruzzo and Lazio, and also the ingredients suggest this origin, being all very common in the area.

Another explanation, completely different, links carbonara etymology back to American troops arriving in Rome at the end of World War II. At that time, people were starving, and the soldiers’ rations were suddenly an important source of food. Militar rations included bacon and eggs (in powder), and this would explain the genesis of this recipe. Even if it does not clarify the etymology, what is true is that before WWII carbonara recipe was not part of Roman tradition.

Real carbonara Decalogue

Even if the real carbonara recipe seems a very simple one, you need to consider two main factors.

First: the list of ingredients is short and the recipe sounds easy, but perfect technical execution is not!

Second: it is one of the most abused Italian recipes, both abroad and in our own Country.

While to address the first issue I will give you some tips in the recipe instructions, the second topic is developed with typical roman humor in a ‘real carbonara recipe Decalogue‘. Widely spread in roman dialect via social apps, I do my best here to share it with non-Italian readers … hoping the translated version will make you smile half as much as the original one πŸ™‚

  1. always use guanciale, not bacon – if we meant bacon, we would have gone to the USA (note: guanciale is the pork cheek, while bacon is part of the belly)
  2. no parmigiano reggiano, just pecorino cheese. Who says “half and half” has something to hide (Note: I love Parmigiano Reggiano, I even wrote a guide about it, but always remember that Italian food is regional: with carbonara you are in Lazio, so don’t use a cheese from Emilia Romagna)
  3. never cook the egg, it is not an omelette!
  4. no garlic, no onion, it’s not a ragΓΉ!
  5. no oil, no butter, no lard. Just the fat from guanciale
  6. no spicy pepper, it is not Calabria (i.e., not from the Southern region of Italy famous for spicy foods)
  7. no spices other than black pepper are allowed
  8. who adds cream should go to jail (you know, we take it seriously about food, sometimes too much…)
  9. never, never say ‘carbonara’ and ‘vegan’ in the same sentence
  10. tonnarelli, spaghetti, bucatini, rigatoni (note: four different shapes of pasta). They are all good, just don’t overcook it!

Did you learn anything interesting today? If so, just PIN THIS! πŸ™‚

Since I know that some typical ingredients are not easy to be found abroad, I made some researches, and the best guanciale I found online seems to be this one (as usual, at no additional cost for you, buying from here can help this blog, so thank you!).

The other crucial ingredient for a good carbonara is… the pecorino romano! It was not easy, since this Italian cheese has a lot of fakes online, but I eventually found this that is really a good pecorino romano: let me know in the comments your feedbacks.

Before I start with the instructions, writing about real carbonara I cannot help thinking of one of my favorite restaurants in Rome, Lo scopettaro. I hope you will enjoy at least once their amazing traditional cuisine, including one of the truly authentic carbonara I have ever had! And if you love Italian pasta but you prefer tomato-based sauces, don’t move from Rome and cook with me an authentic Amatriciana πŸ˜‰ Or travel with me to Sicily and try your first authentic pasta alla Norma, with my step-by-step recipe!

Real carbonara recipe - in the plate
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Real carbonara recipe

Follow my instructions to prepare an authentic carbonara sauce for you, your family and friends. Pay attention to my tips and you can't be wrong.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy, energetic, tasty
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 380kcal
Author: Roberto
Cost: $2


  • pan
  • bowl
  • pot
  • Fork


  • 400 gr pasta Best choice: spaghetti. I use "spaghetti alla chitarra" in this recipe.
  • 150 gr guanciale
  • 6 egg yolks Depending on egg size, about 1.5 each person.
  • 120 gr grated pecorino cheese pecorino from Rome is the best choice, the one with the black rind.
  • q.s. black pepper according to taste, on top
  • 1 pinch salt in the water to cook the pasta


  • Prepare all the ingredients and put the water on high heat. Salt it when it's warm.
    Real carbonara recipe - ingredients
  • Start cooking the guanciale in a pan. First, at low heat, to let the fat melt, then at medium heat, to make it crispy (but not fried).
    Real carbonara recipe
  • Separate the yolks and whip them with a fork.
    Real carbonara recipe
  • Add the grated pecorino cheese and keep on whipping until you obtain a nice cream.
    Real carbonara recipe
  • In the meanwhile, guanciale should be ready.
    Real carbonara recipe - cooked guanciale
  • Remove some cooking water from the pot where the pasta is almost done.
    Real carbonara recipe
  • A minute before the pasta is done, remove it from the water and pour it in the pan over the cooked guanciale. Mix it in the melted fat.
    Real carbonara recipe - pasta and guanciale
  • Add the egg and pecorino cheese cream.
    Real carbonara recipe - adding eggs and pecorino
  • Add some spoons of the cooking water and mix the pasta.
    Real carbonara recipe - mixing with cooking water
  • Serve it, add some more pecorino cheese and (according to taste) some black pepper. Buon appetito!
    Real carbonara recipe - in the plate


  • as stated in the Decalogue, never cook the egg, so turn off the heat before adding the cream
  • use the cooking water to add starch and make the sauce even more creamy.


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Buon appetito!

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  • Reply AUSSIEQ BBQ 04/27/2023 at 4:57 AM

    5 stars
    Cracking dish mate!! I used it on my AUSSIEQ BBQ video.

    • Reply Roberto 04/27/2023 at 9:26 AM

      glad to know! Really love it, my daughter’s favourite πŸ™‚

  • Reply Toon 03/23/2023 at 10:46 AM

    5 stars
    This carbonara is the real thing! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply Roberto 03/23/2023 at 10:49 AM

      Thank you, glad you appreciated! Enjoy your carbonara πŸ™‚

  • Reply Christine Beveridge 04/10/2022 at 11:15 AM

    5 stars
    Perfetto! I’d always made carbonara using a whole egg, plus two yolks (for two people). Your version was sublime. Using my homemade spaghetti took it to another level. Thank you for the recipe that I will always use from now on.

    • Reply Roberto 05/28/2022 at 5:32 PM

      hi Christine, and thank you very much for your super nice words πŸ™‚
      Sorry for my late reply, but recently I am experiencing lots of spam and your comment was lost among too many fake ones.
      Hope you will try many other recipes in my blog!
      Ciao, Roberto

  • Reply Cindy 12/20/2021 at 3:58 PM

    5 stars
    Amazing dish. Turned out perfectly! Thanks so much

    • Reply Roberto 02/13/2022 at 3:18 PM

      Thank you, very glad to know!! πŸ™‚

    • Reply Guy David 04/26/2022 at 8:32 PM

      5 stars
      Made this for my daughter who asked for it after going to an Italian chain restaurant. She loved this more than the restaurant, very authentic which was the main aim of the dish. Thankyou Roberto for the assistance 🀌 Great dish

      • Reply Roberto 05/03/2022 at 9:25 AM

        Thank you Guy! very glad you made your daughter happy πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Jan 07/26/2021 at 3:11 AM

    5 stars
    Very authentic! Made it for my guests tonight. Everyone loved it.

    • Reply Roberto 07/28/2021 at 7:47 AM

      Thank you, that is the best, when anyone is happy πŸ™‚ let’s keep in touch, two more pasta are coming soon..

  • Reply Daniel Nisser 04/16/2021 at 7:24 PM

    5 stars
    Elegant simplicity. Art. Delicious. Basta.

    • Reply Roberto 04/17/2021 at 6:48 PM

      thank you! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Irene 04/09/2021 at 7:58 AM

    5 stars
    Roberto- this turned out excellent. A question that stirred a debate … in point 10 you say β€œ Serve it, add some parmesan cheese and (according to taste) some black pepper. Buon appetito!”. Did you really mean parmesan??

    • Reply Roberto 04/09/2021 at 10:21 AM

      hi, glad to hear! Thanks a lot for pointing out the typo, of course it was “pecorino”, not “parmigiano”, I just updated. Parmigiano is amazing (did you read my guide? πŸ˜‰ ) but our cuisine is regional, so.. no parmigiano in recipes from Central Italy. Ciao!

  • Reply Odi 05/21/2020 at 1:22 PM

    5 stars
    I must admit..this one is perfect!!

    • Reply Roberto 05/21/2020 at 3:22 PM

      Thank you!! I had a good teacher πŸ™‚

  • Reply Gemma 05/20/2020 at 11:05 PM

    5 stars
    The perfect carbonara

    • Reply Roberto 05/21/2020 at 9:36 AM

      Thank you! Buon appetito πŸ™‚

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