You know those days where you want a quick and easy dinner where you can grab a couple of ingredients from your fridge and pantry and everyone is fed? That’s when I start to boil some pasta water and get this spaghetti carbonara sauce started.
Like you, I often find myself trying to figure out what to make for dinner on nights where I should be more prepared; but luckily, I have this one-pan recipe to save the day and feed my hungry family.
What is Carbonara Sauce?
Carbonara sauce is made with bacon, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. To thin it out, you use pasta water and it magically turns into a sauce as you toss it around with the cooked pasta
While it might sound like a luxurious dinner, I assure you that it’s not complicated! I mean, bacon, eggs, and cheese? Simple and delicious, which is why it’s one meal my entire family will eat.
What Does Carbonara Sauce Taste Like?
The carbonara sauce has the texture of a creamy Parmesan-y, silky-rich sauce without having that heavy feel of cream sauces after you eat it.
The egg yolks give the sauce a velvety texture and rich taste, but don’t worry, the yolks cook from the heat of the pasta and bacon, so it’s 100% safe to eat. And just for the record, anything dish made with bacon is divine.
Plus, one advantage of using my stainless steel pan is that as the bacon cooks, it leaves some bits at the bottom that perfectly dissolve right into the Parmesan sauce as it melts.
Carbonara Sauce Ingredients
Carbonara sauce is made with your most basic kitchen staples- another reason this mama loves this recipe! Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Dried spaghetti
- Yellow onion
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper
How to Make Carbonara Sauce
You owe it to yourself and your family to make this dish because it’s hard to mess it up! Plus, don’t you want to pass up the satisfaction of creating a sauce that tastes like it was served at a fancy Italian restaurant with the ease of whipping it up in minutes on your stainless steel pan! Watch how this spaghetti carbonara is made in this quick recipe video, and then read up on the step-by-step instructions below.
1. Boil the Pasta
Cook the pasta according to package directions, making sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining. Don’t. Skip. This. Step.
2. Cook your bacon
In a large stainless steel skillet, brown the bacon until it the edges start to curl up and you see those magical tidbits begin to form at the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the onions and garlic
To the bacon drippings (yes! you want those) add the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté until golden and soft. By now, your kitchen should be intoxicated with the aroma of bacon.
4. Whisk it
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and parmesan cheese with salt and pepper until completely smooth.
5. Add the pasta to the pan.
Now that your bacon and onions are ready, add your cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. One that’s done, remove it from the heat.
6. Whisk your Parmesan and Egg mixture.
It’s time to make the main part of your sauce by combining your Parmesan and egg.
Once that’s done, add it to the pan, and working quickly, toss to combine.
7. Add Pasta Water
While stirring the egg and Parmesan mixture with the pasta, add a little of the pasta water at a time until a smooth, light sauce forms.
8. Dish up!
Only thing left is to grab a bowl/plate, dish up, and dig into the wonders of carbonara! If you want to be extra, top with more cheese and chopped parsley.
Perfect Carbonara Sauce Cooking Tips
As simple as the ingredients are, carbonara sauce is all about technique! But don’t sweat it, just follow the recipe and these tips and your pasta carbonara will be #perfection.
Start with room temperature eggs
A couple of hours before you cook, remove the eggs from the fridge and set them out on the counter. Room temp eggs create a smooth, light sauce and there’s less chance of them scrambling.
Make Sure the Eggs Don’t Scramble in the sauce
Adding the egg and cheese mixture can be the trickiest part of carbonara sauce. If done wrong, you’ll end up with a pan full of frazzled pasta and scrambled eggs. To avoid that monstrosity, be sure to remove the pan from heat before adding the egg and cheese mixture.
The eggs will cook from the heat of the pasta into a delicate, buttery sauce. Mission accomplished!
Swap bacon with pancetta
Some people swear by pancetta while others go for the bacon. Pancetta which is a much smokier, meatier form of bacon but I prefer the latter since it’s always in my fridge and easier to find at the local grocery. Just know that both are delicious and you need one or the other for pasta carbonara.
How to Serve Carbonara Sauce
While you might want to eat your spaghetti carbonara right out of the pan and wipe it clean with some soft-in-the-middle and crusty-on-the-outside garlic bread, the best way to serve the spaghetti carbonara sauce is in a bowl topped with additional Parmesan cheese!
Carbonara Sauce Recipe
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- ½ large onion, diced small
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package directions. Prior to draining, reserve 1 cup of water.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and Parmesan cheese, set aside.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until the sides begin to lift, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, for a couple of minutes until it begins to turn golden and translucent. Reduce heat to low.
- Working quickly, add in the cooked pasta to the pan and give it a quick toss.
- Add in the egg mixture, and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Slowly, begin to pour in the reserved pasta water, about ½ cup total, adding in more if you want to thin out the sauce.
- Garnish with parsley and additional Parmesan cheese.