Carbonara is a simple, classic pasta dish that uses just two basic ingredients - eggs and cheese - to create a creamy, delicious sauce for pasta.

Carbonara is a simple, classic dish that uses just a few basic ingredients to create a creamy, delicious sauce for pasta.

It's my go-to recipe when I feel like there's no food in the house, because who can't come up with a box of dried pasta and some eggs?

I also love making Carbonara because unlike a rich, calorie-laden cream sauce like an Alfredo (which, don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for as well!) that calls for both butter and heavy cream, Carbonara derives all of its creaminess from egg yolks and the pasta cooking water.

The traditional recipe includes "guanciale "  which is salt-cured pork jowl. But seriously? Who has that hanging around?

And trust me, prepared correctly, Carbonara doesn't need anything but the eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and pasta. But.... if you must, you can add some bacon. Thick-cut is best.

Although many traditional Carbonara recipes call for spaghetti in this recipe, I prefer to use a long, flat noodle like tagliatelle. Or even fettucine or linguine.

As with all recipes, but especially those that are simple with few ingredients, the quality of the ingredients matters.

This recipe highlights those delicious, fresh eggs your chickens lay. It also requires fresh cracked pepper and freshly grated cheese. None of that processed Parmesan cheese in the green plastic container, please.

Tagliatelle Carbonara

4 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheeses, or a combination of both
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 pound of tagliatelle (but feel free to substitute linguine or fettuccine)
1 to 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into cubes, optional

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and cheese in a medium bowl.  Season with salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 7 minutes for tagliatelle. Just before the pasta is done, reserve one cup of the cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta well.

While the pasta is cooking, cook your bacon, if desired.

Return the pasta to the pot and stir in bacon, then slowly pour in the egg/cheese mixture until well combined. Continue to stir, adding the reserved pasta water, a few spoonfuls at a time, until the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Serve with additional grated cheese, salt and pepper.

Note: Technically the eggs aren't cooked, per se, in a Carbonara. But they do get heated in the hot pot stirred into hot pasta. 

However, if you're concerned or have a weakened immune system, or are serving this dish to the very young or old, you might want to turn the flame back on under the pot once you've mixed in the sauce and stir it around to just be sure the eggs get cooked....but I would reserve a bit more of the pasta water to be sure you have enough to create a nice creamy sauce.

©2020 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc. and updated in 2024 for Coop to Kitchen. All rights reserved.