The Best Creamy Carbonara Recipe

LAST UPDATED: May 06, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Feb 14, 2011 | By:

This is the ultimate, classic Creamy Pasta Carbonara recipe. It is a simple, easy and fresh take on pasta that is easy to customize and the perfect pasta for dinner, lunch or even brunch! Spaghetti carbonara with cream is the best indulgence.

It’s an irresistible combination of bacon or pancetta, cheese, eggs and heavy cream tossed with classic spaghetti (and a few secrets along the way).

Learn how to make a classic spaghetti carbonara with cream… pretty soon, it will be the only pasta dish you ever want!

A bowl of creamy Pasta Carbonara sitting on a wooden table.

*This post was originally published February 14, 2011 and updated May 6, 2021 with fresh content and details.

Have you noticed? Pasta is my specialty. They say do what you love and you’ll do it well… and I hope that’s the case here. So taking a cue from that philosophy, I make pasta once a week.

We recently hosted out of town company. My college roommate, Danielle, spent the morning with us and to celebrate, I had to create an indulgent pasta recipe. Yes… pasta for breakfast. It’s a thing, I promise!

I made a quick run to the grocery store for ingredients to prepare this fabulously easy creamy carbonara recipe.

Carbonara is a great dish for brunch, lunch or dinner. I never really thought about how well it lent itself to brunch until we hosted a baby shower at one of my favorite brunch spots.

The combination of bacon and eggs includes all those rich breakfast ingredients, alla spaghetti! What could be better?

A white plate filled with a creamy carbonara recipe, topped with cheese.

Why You’ll Love this Spaghetti Carbonara with Cream

  • So Easy to Make
  • Rich and Filling
  • Great for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner
  • Easy to Customize

Creamy Carbonara Recipe Ingredients

  • Pasta – Spaghetti alla carbonara is the traditional Italian way, but use any of your favorite pasta shape. Tagliatelle or fettuccine would be divine!
  • Pancetta or Bacon – Pancetta, like bacon, is pork. However, it differs in the way that it is cured. Pancetta is cured with spices, which really shine in this pasta carbonara recipe.
  • Garlic – A small amount of garlic goes a long way. I like to take a shortcut and buy the minced garlic from the produce section of the store, but fresh minced garlic is always best!
  • Eggs – Use the freshest eggs you can find.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – A traditional pasta carbonara recipe does not include cream, however I like the extra rich, sweet flavor it provides.
  • Butter – A little extra richness never hurt. Butter helps create a glossier finish. I always use salted butter because it balances the other flavors so beautifully, but unsalted works if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano – Pecorino Romano is one of my favorite cheeses to use in pasta. It is similar in style to Parmesan, but slightly saltier and made from sheep’s milk. Purchase a whole block from the cheese counter and grate at home. You can also use classic Parmesan if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Pepper – Use freshly cracked black pepper.
A white plate filled with spaghetti carbonara with cream, topped with cheese.

Variations

  • Use a different meat – for a change in your protein, try pancetta instead of classic bacon. You can also add a little of this easy baked chicken for a more protein-heavy dish!
  • Cheeses – while Parmesan is a classic cheese for spaghetti carbonara, pecorino is a little saltier and made from sheep’s milk. Give it a try!
  • Pasta – try a different pasta shape! While spaghetti is always a classic pasta for a creamy carbonara recipe, try fettucine, linguine, or even a penne. This creamy carbonara sauce works for everything!

How to Make Creamy Pasta Carbonara

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place a large, empty, oven-safe bowl in it for future tossing of the pasta carbonara recipe.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the pancetta and garlic.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and cream.
  4. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. A silver pot full of cooked spaghetti noodles, silver tongs on top. Drain and add to warm bowl with butter. Toss to combine. A silver pot full of cooked spaghetti noodles, silver tongs on top.
  5. Gradually stir in the egg and cream mixture until fully emulsified. Toss in pancetta and pecorino, reserving some for garnish. One pot pasta carbonara recipeAdd pepper to taste. Garnish with the remaining pancetta and cheese. How to make one pot pasta carbonaraEnjoy!
A silver pot full of creamy carbonara with tongs tossing the spaghetti.

Tips for Spaghetti Carbonara with Cream

  • Al Dente – always, always cook your pasta al dente. It helps it keep a “bite” that creates the most delicious texture in the sauce.
  • Reserve Pasta Water – Hold a little of the pasta water back when you drain it. You can add this starchy warm water back into your sauce if it needs to be thinned out a little.
  • Tossing the pasta and carbonara with cream in a warm pan ensures an even distribution of heat, creating a creamy, luscious sauce. Make sure to use potholders when working with the bowl, as it will be hot!
  • Slowly add the cream and egg mixture to avoid scrambling the eggs. For a bit more insurance, you can also add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the egg mixture prior to tossing with the pasta. This will help bring up the temperature of the eggs.

To Store

Refrigerate – This creamy carbonara sauce keeps incredibly well in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to three days. Allow the spaghetti carbonara with cream to cool, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes after cooking.

Serving Suggestions

  • Top with fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary or even basil for a pretty pop of color.
  • Add a big crack of pepper and more freshly shredded Parmesan or Pecorino.
  • Serve alongside these Fruit Skewers for brunch or lunch, and with a gorgeous Italian Salad for dinner.
A white plate filled with spaghetti carbonara with cream, topped with cheese, gold fork to the side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you use cream In carbonara?

Traditionally, no. An authentic pasta carbonara recipe is simply an emulsion of eggs and cheese. But because I like to guild the lily and add an extra bit of richness, I incorporate some cream into the mix.

Can you substitute milk for cream in Carbonara?

It’s not recommended because the sauce won’t be quite as rich and creamy. However, you can use milk or half and half instead of heavy whipping cream in this carbonara with cream.

Why is my carbonara not creamy?

If your pasta (and the pot) is too hot, your eggs will curdle and scramble as they are added. However, if your pasta and pot are not warm enough, you risk the eggs not being cooked all the way through.

Solve this problem by using a warm pot to toss your creamy carbonara sauce, but not too hot!

Dietary Considerations

  • Gluten Free – Use a gluten free pasta to make this creamy carbonara recipe gluten free.
  • Vegetarian – leave the pancetta or bacon out for a vegetarian carbonara.
  • Nut Free

Join the club! You can find daily updates on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and see my latest YouTube videos here!

More Creamy Pasta Recipes

 
A white plate filled with a creamy carbonara recipe, topped with cheese.

Pasta Carbonara Recipe | One Pot Pasta

Author: Julie Blanner
This recipe is incredibly easy, consists mostly of staple ingredients and requires very little effort.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6
Calories 655 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound pasta any shape, spaghetti is traditional
  • 8 ounces bacon cooked and cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup butter salted
  • 4 large eggs whisked
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Brown bacon in large saucepan over medium heat. Remove, set aside and drain pan.
  • Bring water to a boil and prepare pasta al dente.
  • Drain pasta and toss in butter, eggs, cream and optional garlic.
  • Add in bacon, followed by parmesan.
  • Serve with fresh cracked pepper.

Video

[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”hSncSHyX” upload-date=”2018-08-31T00:00:00.000Z” name=”Classic Carbonara Recipe” description=”Classic Carbonara Recipe, carbonara, carbonara recipe, pasta, pasta recipe, easy pasta, easy pasta recipe, lunch, dinner, lunch recipe, dinner recipe” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]

Notes

Tips

  • Al Dente – always cook your pasta al dente. It helps it keep a “bite” that creates the most delicious texture in the sauce.
  • Reserve Pasta Water – Hold a little of the pasta water back when you drain it. You can add this starchy warm water back into your sauce if it needs to be thinned out a little.
  • Tossing the pasta and carbonara with cream in a warm pan ensures an even distribution of heat, creating a creamy, luscious sauce. Make sure to use potholders when working with the bowl, as it will be hot!
  • Slowly add the cream and egg mixture to avoid scrambling the eggs.
  • For a bit more insurance, you can also add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the egg mixture prior to tossing with the pasta. This will help bring up the temperature of the eggs.

Nutrition

Calories:655kcalCarbohydrates:58gProtein:25gFat:35gSaturated Fat:16gCholesterol:183mgSodium:623mgPotassium:312mgFiber:2gSugar:2gVitamin A:699IUVitamin C:1mgCalcium:228mgIron:2mg
5 from 4 votes
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
 
 
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