Spaghetti with Pancetta, Eggs, and Parmesan Cheese

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

This famous Roman dish is traditionally made with guanciale, a kind of unsmoked bacon made from pork cheeks. Guanciale is obtainable at some local specialty butchers and online, but if you cannot get it, pancetta or prosciutto makes a more than adequate substitute.


guanciale, pancetta, or prosciutto (such as prosciutto di parma with fat attached), cut into ⅛-inch-thick (3 mm) slices lb 150 g
garlic clove, finely chopped 1 small 1 small
large eggs, beaten 3 3
salt and pepper to taste to taste
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano ¾ cup 185 ml
dried spaghetti or fresh strand pasta such as fettuccine or linguine 8 oz or 1 lb 225 g or 450 g


  1. Cut the guanciale or pancetta into 1-inch-wide (2.5 cm) strips. If using prosciutto, cut off and discard the rind (or save it for braises), remove and finely chop the fat, and cut the meat into 1-inch (2.5 cm) strips. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil for cooking the pasta.
  2. Render the guanciale, pancetta, or prosciutto fat in a heavy-bottomed pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta over low to medium heat, until the fat becomes slightly crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan. If using a very fatty guanciale or pancetta, drain off all but cup (80 milliliters) of the fat. Stir the garlic into the remaining fat and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and stir in half of the grated Parmesan cheese. Cook and drain the pasta, and quickly toss with the rendered fat and garlic. Add the beaten eggs; guanciale, pancetta, or prosciutto; and the remaining cheese and toss again. Season with salt and pepper and serve on hot plates.