Bucatini Carbonara

Bucatini Carbonara

Think of a carbonara as an elevated Cacio e Pepe, in which smoky pork is added to the mix. All you need to do is add bacon, eggs and cheese to some pasta to make what is essentially the breakfast of the pasta world. Although known for taking classics and putting my own spin on them (like the carbonara recipe in my orange Instant Pot book), I’m going to make this one more traditional in terms of the ingredients, but I do supply some options in Jeff’s Tips. It‘s most commonly made with spaghetti, but any long noodle works great. That said, I personally prefer bucatini or perciatelli for this as I like to slurp the sauce simultaneously with the noodles.

Watch The Video!

Bucatini Carbonara

Boil The Pasta

Adding salt to boiling water in pot
Begin by boiling some water in a soup pot. Once boiling, salt it..
Adding semolina flour to boiling water in pot
…and, optionally, add some semolina or Tipo “00” flour to it (which will help thicken the sauce when we reserve the pasta water later).
Adding bucatini to boiling water in pot
Carbonara is typically made with spaghetti, but I prefer it with a really fat and hollowed spaghetti known as bucatini (or perciatelli). This pasta has become all the rage as of late as it’s essentially serves as a straw that you can eat! Add it to the pot of boiling water, reduce the heat to medium to avoid spillover, and then cook according to the package’s instructions for “al dente.”

Make The Carbonara

4 eggs beside a bowl
While the pasta’s cooking, let’s focus on making the sauce! Begin with four eggs.
2 eggs cracked into bowl
Crack two on them into a bowl…
2 egg yolks being separated from their whites using an egg white separator and added to the bowl
…and then take ONLY THE YOLKS from the other two eggs. This makes for a dense and rich carbonara! Using a cheap egg yolk separator make life so much easier here.
Adding grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese to bowl
To the eggs, add some grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses (see Jeff’s Tips in the recipe card below).
Adding pepper and garlic powder to bowl
Finish it off with some black pepper and garlic powder.
Whisking until all is combined
Whisk until all is combined. It will be like a thick paste and that’s what we want! Set aside.
Adding olive oil to pan
Add some olive oil to a sauté pan and heat it up.
Adding diced pancetta to pan
Once shimmering (shimmy shimmy), add in some diced pancetta, guanciale, or thick-cut bacon.
Sautéing pancetta in oil
Sauté for a few minutes…
Cooked pancetta
…until the pork becomes lightly browned and slightly crispy. As soon as it does, kill the heat and move the pan to a cooler part of the stove (or a trivet on the counter). This will ensure the pancetta won’t burn.

Draining The Pasta

Stirring cooked pasta
When the pasta’s done cooking, taste it. If just slightly chewy to the taste, it’s ready! If not, go for a bit longer until you’re happy.
Reserving some pasta water
Just before draining, reserve 1 cup of that pasta water (this is important)!

Marrying The Pasta To The Carbonara

Drained pasta in a colander
Drain your pasta into a colander in the sink and, without rinsing (which will rinse all the starch off the pasta), give it a good shake.
Adding drained pasta to the pan with the cooked pancetta and oil
Add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta and oil.
Adding the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta in the pan
Then, top it off with the thick egg & cheese mixture…
Adding some of the reserved pasta water to the pan
…and about half of the reserved pasta water.
Tongs tossing everything together
Use tongs to toss everything up for a minute or two. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs almost instantly as it gets combined with the cheese and pasta water to form a super creamy sauce that will marry itself beautifully to the pasta.
Finished pasta with perfect sauce
After letting it rest for a few minutes, THIS is what you will be greeted with – sheer perfection! (NOTE: If you want it even creamier, just add in a little more of that reserved pasta water)
Plated pasta
Plate some up and top with additional bacon, cheese, and/or pepper if you so choose. And presto – Bucatini Carbonara is served!

The Taste Test

Man showing bowl of pasta
If you’re drooling by now, I’m on your side.
Man trying pasta
Play a game of airplane and eat that Bucatini Carbonara.
Another man trying pasta and looking dumbstruck as the other man looks on in happiness
Now because it’s going to blow your mind at how you just made a classic dish so effortlessly, you’re gonna wanna brag and share it with others. And then they, too, can revel in the joy that is carbonara.
Man showing off entire pan of pasta
In fact, just invite your nearest and dearest over – they’ll never doubt for a second you weren’t born a gourmet chef. Mangia!
Yield: 6

Bucatini Carbonara

Bucatini Carbonara

Think of a carbonara as an elevated Cacio e Pepe, in which smoky pork is added to the mix. All you need to do is add bacon, eggs and cheese to some pasta to make what is essentially the breakfast of the pasta world. Although known for taking classics and putting my own spin on them (like the carbonara recipe in my orange Instant Pot book), I’m going to make this one more traditional in terms of the ingredients, but I do supply some options in Jeff’s Tips. It‘s most commonly made with spaghetti, but any long noodle works great. That said, I personally prefer bucatini or perciatelli for this as I like to slurp the sauce simultaneously with the noodles.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

The Pasta

The Sauce

Instructions

  1. Fill an 8-quart pot halfway with water and place on the stove over high heat. Once it achieves a rolling boil, add the salt and semolina flour (if using) and reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the pasta and gently stir until fully submerged in the water. Setting a timer, cook according to the package instructions for “al dente” (or the shortest amount of time the package suggests). Once the timer goes off, take a quick moment to pause what you’re doing. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the remaining water and cooked pasta through a colander in the sink. Do not rinse the pasta once drained. Just let it rest in the colander until called for.
  2. As soon as you begin to boil the water, add the eggs (remember, 2 whole and 2 yolks and an egg yolk separator makes it easy), both cheeses, the pepper, and garlic powder (if using) to a mixing bowl and whisk until combined into a thick paste. Set aside.
  3. Add the olive oil to a nonstick 4- to 5-quart sauté pan and bring to medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add the pancetta and sauté until just crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Turn the stove off and remove the pan from the heated burner, placing it on a cool part of the stove or rest it on a trivet on the counter.
  4. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and toss with the pancetta and the oil. Then pour the cheesy egg mixture over it followed by ½ cup of the reserved starchy pasta water. Using tongs, toss for another 1-2 minutes until the mixture is lightly cooked into the pasta and until a creamy consistency forms. And don’t worry, the heat of the pot and the pasta combined is enough to gently cook the egg. If, when done tossing, you want it creamier, add up to ½ cup more of the water.
  5. Serve immediately topped with additional grated cheese and pepper, if desired.

Jeffrey's Tips

The semolina or Tipo “00” flour is optional but adding 1 tablespoon of it to the pasta water will ensure the sauce becomes a bit thicker. It can be found in most markets (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand) or online.

Only have Parmesan or Pecorino Romano on hand? Just use 1 cup of either (so you have 1 cup of grated cheese, total). But since Pecorino Romano is saltier than Parmesan, which is nuttier, perhaps use Parmesan if going for 1 cup of the same cheese.

Some like their carbonara with onion and peas. If that’s you, sauté a small, diced yellow onion with the pancetta in Step 3 and/or add up to ½ cup peas (thawed from a frozen bag) in Step 4 when tossing the pasta with the sauce.


If you have leftovers, the best way to reheat and reconstitute the sauce is to add a few splashes of heavy cream to the pasta and zap in the microwave, mix and heat until cooked through. Allow it to rest for 1-2 minutes before serving and the sauce will be super incredible.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Betty

    Your way of making a paste make a lot of sence. My landlady in Naples tough me to stir beaten egg into pasta. Then add milk and cheese with bacon and pepper. Had a scrambled egg pasta a few times because pasta was hotter than I thought. This has been my unexpected dinner guests meal for years. Now I can make it better. Thanks so much

  2. Peggy Fry

    I’m confused about step 2. Where does this water come from and how much do you boil and add the eggs? If you drain the pasta and save a cup you add that later.. So what water do you boil? Thanks

  3. Tina

    I would like to double the recipe. Can you give me some tips on that? Or should I just double everything?
    Also, my mothers recipe always included heavy cream. I’m interested to see how this comes out w/out the hc.

  4. Heather S

    the wording was a little awkward. while boiling the water, get a mixing bowl and mix the egg and cheese sauce. don’t mix it into the boiling wager.

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