11 best carbonara recipes
You’re home late, the cupboards are bare and you can just about scramble together pasta, eggs and cheese. We both know what you’re having for dinner and it’s of the quick, carby and comforting variety – spaghetti alla carbonara.
Find tips on how to make the ultimate carbonara including 11 of our best-ever carbonara recipes, from a classic version to twists with chorizo, mushrooms and even sprouts!
So, how do you make the ultimate carbonara?
This gloriously glossy dish in its simplest form is a luscious mix of pasta, eggs, pancetta and cheese. Whisk together eggs and parmesan to make a rich sauce before stirring through crispy fried pancetta and cooked (al dente) spaghetti, to coat.
Tip: remember to reserve some of the cooking water before draining your pasta. This will help loosen the sauce (when you add the eggs and cheese) and coat the pasta evenly.
Check out our 30-second video for how to make a quick and easy spaghetti carbonara.
Should carbonara have cream?
An authentic Italian carbonara doesn’t contain cream and uses only eggs and parmesan to make the sauce. Although cream certainly adds an extra indulgent note to the finished dish, we find that it can take away from the flavour of the eggs and makes the dish a little too heavy. The addition of pasta water should be enough to create a loose and silky sauce, without the need to add cream.
However, many recipes do call for this addition in order to thicken the sauce so, if you’re looking to make a really creamy carbonara, then by all means add away!
What cheese is best in carbonara?
It’s got to be parmesan or, at a push, pecorino (the latter has a slightly stronger flavour). Its unique saltiness acts as a natural seasoning to the dish and helps gives the sauce its distinctively creamy texture.
Oh, and there’s got to be lots of it – that part’s non-negotiable.
Our best carbonara recipes…
All you need is 5 ingredients and 15 minutes to make this Italian staple. It’s quick, creamy and comforting fare that’s perfect for anything from busy evenings to dinner parties.
Want to make this dish veggie? We’ve swapped the pancetta for mushrooms in our vegetarian version, by frying them with shallots and sage leaves.
Add even more flavour to this simple dish with the addition of chorizo (instead of pancetta). You won’t believe how much flavour you can create using just 5 ingredients.
Don’t worry, our healthier carbonara recipe still uses eggs and cheese! But we’ve used a few simple tricks to make this creamy dish a little better for you. Check it out and see for yourself.
Use up leftover ham in our easy carbonara recipe. This version uses cream to add a touch of extra indulgence – it really is rather good.
A fresher spin on this typically rich dish, try our 20-minute take made with broad beans, fresh herbs and lots of lemon. It makes a brilliant speedy supper during the summer months, but if broad beans aren’t in season then swap for frozen peas instead.
A carbonara frittata may sound a little mad but this carby dish really does make a crowd-pleasing store cupboard dinner. Who could refuse eggs, cheese and pasta?! It’s great for using up eggs, ham or leftover cheese, too.
We’ve added sausagemeat and crispy sprouts to this wintry twist on the Italian dish for a heartier dinner. Not a fan of sprouts? Swap them for any seasonal green you fancy.
Petit pois adds pops of colour and sweetness to this otherwise beige plateful. It’s easy, inexpensive and takes just 15 minutes to make.
If a bowl of creamy pasta isn’t what you fancy on a warm summer’s evening, then give this fresher, lighter carbonara a go. It’s packed with green veg, lemon juice and fresh mint for a healthier, yet still comforting, summery twist.
It may not be authentic but this macaroni carbonara is sure to hit the spot! This easy-to-eat pasta shape is great for kids too. Serve with peas for an easy weeknight meal.
And we’ve got even more where that came from! Take a look at all our carbonara recipes.