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Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara is my barometer for a good restaurant. If it’s on the menu and it looks like it’s done the way carbonara is supposed to be done I’ll order it. Inevitably I am disappointed – even at that terrific restaurant in Salt Lake City I keep talking about! They had carbonara on the menu and it seemed like it was just the way I like it. That was what I ordered for my main course after those amazing pequillo peppers stuffed with beef short ribs. I even got into a big discussion with our server about how correct carbonara is so hard to find and blah blah blah. It was disappointing. I wanted India’s beef stroganoff, but she wouldn’t trade.

Then in looking through my archives for some work I needed to do as one of their Brand Amabassadors I realized that somehow I’ve never actually posted the recipe for my carbonara!

Well folks, here you go.

I cannot take credit for this recipe. It is straight out of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine and the only thing I change in the recipe is that I add more bacon than their recipe calls for. You can never have enough bacon in a recipe to me.

This, my friends, is what spaghetti carbonara should be like. It should not have any cream in it. It should be full of flavor and have raw — yes raw — eggs in it. The heat of the hot pasta cooks the eggs slightly. I use my own eggs so I don’t ever have to worry about salmonella or things like that. I will caution you though when making this do try to find locally-sourced free-range eggs just to be on the safe side.

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Original recipe published by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, September, 2001. Altered slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, ©2011.

Serves 4 to 6

Add regular table salt to the pasta cooking water, but use sea salt flakes, if you can find them, to season the dish. We like the full flavor they bring to the carbonara. Note that while either table salt or sea salt can be used when seasoning in step 3, they are not used in equal amounts.

Assemble all your ingredients before cooking. This is essential for this recipe.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound bacon, slices halved length-wise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 small cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced to paste
  • 1 pound spaghetti


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set large heatproof serving bowl on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot.

While water is heating, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes.

Add wine and simmer until alcohol aroma has cooked off and wine is slightly reduced, 6 to 8 minutes.

Once bacon is slightly crisp add the wine and reduce slightly

Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. Beat eggs, cheeses, and garlic together with fork in small bowl; set aside.

When water comes to boil, add pasta and 1 tablespoon table salt; stir to separate pasta. Cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta for about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. My little trick here is to stick the 1/3 cup measure right in the colander in the sink. That way you won’t forget to reserve that 1/3 cup of pasta liquid. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl; if pasta is dry, add some reserved cooking water and toss to moisten. Immediately pour egg mixture over hot pasta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or 3/4 teaspoon table salt; toss well to combine ( I use kitchen tongs to do this). Pour bacon mixture over pasta, season generously with black pepper, and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.

Timing is everything in making this dish. Have all of our ingredients assembled. If possible warm our plates or bowls before serving to keep pasta hot longer. You want to get this dish from tossed and completed directly onto the plate and into our mouth as quickly as possible.

I’d love to know if you try this and what you think. It’s one of my all-time favorite meals.

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  1. looks delish and easy. I’ll try it sometime soon!

  2. I could eat a GIANT TROUGH full of this right about now!!! yum!!!

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