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Traditional Bucatini Carbonara with Guanciale

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This classic Roman recipe for Pasta Carbonara with Guanciale combines crispy guanciale with pasta tossed in a creamy egg and Parmigiano Reggiano sauce.
Servings: 2 people
Total Time: 30 minutes
pasta carbonara on a grey plate

There are four main Roman pasta dishes: Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, Pasta alla Gricia, and Amatriciana. Our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant has a delicious Spaghetti Carbonara made with onions, eggs, bacon, and Parmigiano cheese in a white cream sauce. The owners are from Italy, and they have definitely “Americanized” this pasta dish, but it’s still delicious. Our recipe for authentic bucatini carbonara uses traditional ingredients, and it is the perfect go-to 30-minute dish for a busy weeknight.

pasta carbonara on a grey plate

Key Ingredients and Substitutions


Carbonara has five ingredients—that’s it. Plenty of pasta carbonara recipes include garlic, parsley, onion, cream, milk, and peas (or some other vegetable), but the original version doesn’t, so keep it simple.

The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.

ingredients for pasta carbonara
  • Guanciale: This Italian cured meat is made from pork jowls (or pork cheek). Guanciale is used to make authentic carbonara, but you can substitute pancetta, a cured pork belly pork. We can typically find guanciale in a local gourmet grocery store.
  • Pasta: We use bucatini for this recipe since it is slightly thicker than spaghetti and has a hole in the center, which means the sauce coats the inside and outside of the pasta. You can use any short or long pasta, but make sure you buy bronze-cut pasta. It is made with a special die with more friction, producing a rougher surface on the pasta, causing the sauce to cling better.
  • Cheese: Traditional pasta carbonara is made with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk; in contrast, Parmigiano Reggiano is made from cow’s milk and has a milder, nutter flavor. For our recipe, we used a freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Pre-grated parmesan cheese contains preservatives such as potato starch to prevent clumping so it doesn’t melt as evenly. Whatever cheese you decide on, it’s best to grate it yourself.

How to Make Bucatini Carbonara with Guanciale


Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.

Pro-tip: Use the side with the finest holes on your cheese grater, as larger pieces of cheese are likely to clump.

1. Cook Pasta: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil and add salt. Once the water has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente according to the package instructions. Reserve one cup of cooking water for the carbanara when draining the pasta. Fry the guanciale and prepare the egg-cheese mixture while the pasta is cooking.

pasta cooking in a pot of water

2. Cook the Guanciale: Cube the guanciale into small cubes about 1/4-1/2-inch sizes. While the pasta is cooking, heat a medium skillet over medium heat and cook the cubed guanciale, occasionally stirring to get even cooking. The guanciale should cook until it is crispy and its fat has been rendered, then turn off the heat.

guanciale cooking in a pan

3. Prepare the Egg and Cheese: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together one whole egg, one egg yolk, the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and freshly ground black pepper until a creamy sauce has formed, then set it aside.

egg and cheese mixture in a bowl

4. Prepare the Pasta Carbonara: Once the pasta has cooked to al dente, reheat the guanciale over medium-high heat and add the drained pasta to the pan. Toss the guanciale and pasta in the rendered fat to get the pasta well seasoned, and then turn off the heat. With the heat off, add the cheese and egg mixture and stir. The texture should be creamy and not runny. Add the reserved starchy pasta water a tablespoon at a time if needed for creaminess. If the carbonara is too runny, stir in some grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

pasta and guanciale in a pan after egg, cheese mixture was stirred in

5. Serve: Carbonara should be served immediately with additional grated cheese, pepper, and any guanciale remaining in the skillet, along with a simple salad.

pasta carbonara on a grey plate

Make-Ahead and Storage


Make-Ahead: Carbonara is such a quick and easy dish that there is no reason to make it ahead of time. Plus, it just tastes better fresh. However, the pasta can be cooked ahead of time. Cook the pasta just to al dente, remove it from the pot (don’t forget to save some pasta water), and toss it with a little olive oil. Once the pasta has cooled, store it in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. When you are ready to make the carbonara, boil a pot of water, then add the pasta to the water for about 30 seconds to warm it back up. Be careful not to allow it to sit too long in the hot water, or the pasta will get mushy.

How to Store: Pasta carbonara is best enjoyed immediately after being cooked. However, if there are leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

How to Reheat: Leftover carbonara can be reheated on the stove over low heat. Add a little butter or olive oil to the pan, and once it is hot, add the carbonara and cook for about 5 minutes or until warm. Be sure to stir constantly to redistribute the sauce.

Recipe Tips and Notes


  • If you have runny carbonara sauce, stir in more grated Parmigiano Reggiano to help make it creamy.
  • If your carbonara is not creamy, stir in some reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time.
  • Let the eggs come to room temperature before starting the carbonara.
  • Do not rinse the pasta. The starch helps with the consistency of the sauce.
  • Remove the pasta and guanciale from the heat before adding the eggs, and then mix well. Avoid letting the egg mixture sit on the bottom of the pan for too long, or you will get pasta and scrambled eggs.
  • The guanciale’s thick “skin” layer is tough, so trim it off before chopping it.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a substitute for guanciale?

If you can’t find guanciale, pancetta or bacon can be used as a substitute. Both pancetta and bacon are saltier than guanciale, so be careful not to add too much salt to the pasta water or to the final dish.

Are the eggs cooked in Carbonara?

Yes. The residual heat from heating up the guanciale and pasta will cook the raw eggs.

pasta carbonara on a grey plate

More Pasta Recipes To Try


If you enjoy this Italian-inspired recipe, we recommend checking out some of these other pasta recipes:

  • Creamy Mushroom Pasta – combines the earthy, umami-rich flavors of fresh mushrooms with a luscious, velvety sauce, all draped over perfectly cooked pasta. This comforting and flavorful pasta dish is a favorite for pasta enthusiasts and mushroom lovers.
  • Rigatoni al Forno – A classic Italian pasta dish that embodies the essence of comfort food and culinary indulgence. The rich tomato-based meat sauce is infused with flavors from garlic, onions, and a medley of aromatic herbs and spices. 
  • Bucatini Cacio e Pepe – A classic Roman pasta dish made with just five ingredients: pasta, cheese, butter, pepper, and water. It is a hearty and flavorful dish perfect for a quick and easy 30-minute weeknight meal.

Let’s Connect! If you make this recipe or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.

pasta carbonara on a grey plate

Bucatini Carbonara with Guanciale

Posted by Melissa
This classic Roman recipe for Pasta Carbonara with Guanciale combines crispy guanciale with pasta tossed in a creamy egg and Parmigiano Reggiano sauce.
4.50 from 4 votes

This recipe may contain paid affiliate sales links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my full disclaimer policy for details.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 people
Calories 543 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 2-3 ounces guanciale, cut into ⅓ inch cubes
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 0.5 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • 6 ounces bucatini
  • black pepper, freshly cracked

Instructions 

  • Bring a large saucepan of salt water to boil (about 1 teaspoon of salt) over medium-high heat. Once the water has come to a boil add the pasta and cook according to the package directions until it is al dente. Drain pasta reserving one cup of pasta water.
  • Prepare the egg and cheese mixture and cook the guanciale while the pasta is cooking.
  • In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the egg, egg yolk, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and black pepper until a creamy sauce has formed. Set it aside.
  • Cook the cubed guanciale in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. Cook until crispy and the fat has been rendered, then turn off the heat.
  • Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, reheat the guanciale over medium-high heat and add the drained pasta to the pan. Toss the guanciale and pasta in the rendered fat to get the pasta well seasoned then turn off the heat.
  • With the heat off add the egg and cheese mixture and stir. The texture should be creamy but you can add the reserved pasta water a tablespoon at a time if needed for creaminess.
  • Serve immediately with additional grated cheese, pepper, and any guanciale remaining in the skillet.

Notes

1. Cook the Bucatini according to package instructions but the cooking time for bucatini is typically 7-9 minutes.
2. You can use any short or long pasta for this but make sure you buy bronze-cut pasta. It is made with a special die that has more friction, producing a rougher surface on the pasta causing the sauce to cling better.
3. Pasta Carbonara is made with Pecorino Romano and we used Parmigiano Reggiano for our version. Whatever cheese you decide on it’s best to grate it yourself.  Pre-shredded cheese contains preservatives such as potato starch to prevent clumping so it doesn’t melt as evenly. 
4. Guanciale is used to make authentic carbonara but you can substitute pancetta which is a cured pork made from pork belly.
5. Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. The nutritional value is only for the pasta carbonara and will vary based on the brand of pasta used.  It does not include the nutritional value of any garnishes such as cheese. It does not include the nutrition for any substitutions.
6. Be sure to check out the Key Ingredients along with the Recipe Tips and Notes sections found in the post, for more tips, options, substitutions, and variations for this recipe! You will also find step-by-step photos there.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 543kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 490mg | Sodium: 1480mg | Potassium: 312mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 20mg
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