How To Make Carbonara Sauce

Carbonara is a delectable Italian pasta recipe that is famous for its creamy, rich, and indulgent sauce. At its core, this classic dish comprises spaghetti, or any long and thin pasta variety, coated in a sauce made with eggs, cheese, and cured pork. If you are a fan of rich and creamy pasta dishes, carbonara sauce should be on your list of must-try recipes.

In this article, we will be discussing how to make carbonara sauce step-by-step and discover some tips and FAQs related to this delicious pasta dish.


For 4 servings of carbonara sauce, you will need:

– 400 grams of spaghetti or any long pasta variety
– 200 grams of guanciale or pancetta
– 4 egg yolks
– 50 grams of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese
– 50 grams of butter
– Salt
– Black pepper

Steps to Make Carbonara Sauce

Step 1: Cook the pasta

Boil a large pot of water and add a tablespoon or two of salt to it. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook it according to the instructions on the packet. While the pasta is cooking, let’s move to the next step.

Step 2: Cook the guanciale or pancetta

Guanciale or pancetta is one of the integral ingredients of carbonara sauce. They are both cured pork products but have slight differences in flavor and texture. Guanciale comes from the cheek of the pig, while pancetta comes from its belly. Guanciale has a slightly sweeter flavor and a tender texture, while pancetta is saltier and has a firmer texture.

Cut the guanciale or pancetta into small cubes or thin strips and add them to a cold pan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook the pork until it becomes crispy and golden brown. The fat from the cured meat will render and coat the pan, creating the base of the carbonara sauce.

Step 3: Make the sauce

In a bowl, add the egg yolks, grated cheese, and a pinch of black pepper. Whisk the mixture until it becomes smooth and homogeneous.

When the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of its cooking water, and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan with the crispy guanciale or pancetta, and toss it with the fat for a minute or two. Turn off the heat, add a dollop of butter, and mix well.

While the pan is still hot, pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta, constantly stirring to avoid the eggs from curdling and creating scrambled egg pasta. You can add some reserved pasta water to the pan if the sauce looks too thick. The heat from the pasta and the pan will cook the eggs, creating a creamy and velvety sauce.

Step 4: Serve and garnish

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and sprinkle more grated cheese and black pepper on top. Carbonara sauce pairs well with a glass of crisp white wine, some garlic bread, and a green salad.


Q: Can I substitute guanciale or pancetta with other ingredients?

A: Guanciale and pancetta are the traditional ingredients for carbonara sauce, but if you cannot find them in your local store or prefer not to use them, you can substitute them with bacon or ham. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the sauce may differ slightly from the original recipe.

Q: Is carbonara sauce safe to eat?

A: Carbonara sauce contains raw egg yolks, which may pose a risk of salmonella if not handled properly. To reduce this risk, use fresh and high-quality eggs and make sure to constantly stir the sauce while adding the eggs. You can also use pasteurized eggs to eliminate the risk of salmonella.

Q: Can I refrigerate or freeze leftover carbonara sauce?

A: Carbonara sauce is best eaten fresh, but if you have leftovers, you can refrigerate them in an airtight container for up to three days or freeze them for up to a month. To reheat the sauce, you can gently warm it in a saucepan, adding some reserved pasta water to loosen it up.

Q: What type of cheese is best for carbonara sauce?

A: Traditionally, carbonara sauce calls for Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese. Both of these cheeses have a robust and slightly salty flavor that complements the richness of the sauce. However, you can experiment with other hard and salty cheese varieties such as Grana Padano or Asiago.


Carbonara sauce is a simple yet delicious recipe that requires only a handful of ingredients. Making this sauce at home allows you to control the quality of the ingredients and adjust the flavor and texture to your liking. Follow the steps mentioned above and impress your loved ones with this classic Italian pasta dish.

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