Hearty Dinners/ Pasta

Spaghetti Carbonara (No Cream!)

September 2, 2019 (Last Updated: September 14, 2019)

Here I’ll show you how to make a Classic Carbonara that’s creamy, but doesn’t use cream. With a few simple ingredients this makes the perfect weeknight dinner!

In most regions of Italy, a traditional carbonara means zero cream. It is however quite simple to make a ‘creamy’ carbonara without using any cream. Follow me…

twisting carbonara in a saucepan with pasta tongs

What you’ll need to make Spaghetti Carbonara

I’ve tried to keep this as traditional as possible, whilst making realistic subs that you’ll get at the supermarket. You’ll only need 7 ingredients plus pasta water (which helps create the sauce).

Carbonara No Cream Ingredients

  1. Pecorino Romano – Can sub parmesan if that’s what you have.
  2. Egg Yolks – Adds richness and helps create the sauce.
  3. Spaghetti – Most traditional, but other long cut pasta would work.
  4. Black Pepper – Cracked black pepper (not the powdered stuff).
  5. Garlic – This isn’t so authentic, but adds a nicely gently background flavour.
  6. Pancetta – Most traditional to use guanciale, but easiest to find pancetta, which is the closest sub. If you don’t have pancetta then bacon works too.
  7. Whole Eggs – Helps create the sauce
Did you know? – Carbonara means roughly “in the manner of coal miners,” and is thought to either refer to the name of a Roman restaurant, or, with respect to the black pepper in the sauce looking like coal dust.

overhead shot of carbonara ingredients laid on marble background

How to make Spaghetti Carbonara without Cream

There’s a few key steps to making a creamy carbonara without cream, but let’s start right at the beginning. The first thing you want to do is create your egg mixture. This, alongside the starchy pasta water, will create a smooth and glossy sauce for the spaghetti.

How to make an Egg Mix for Carbonara (quick summary)

  1. Add whole eggs and egg yolks to a bowl.
  2. Beat with a fork until completely smooth.
  3. Add cheese and black pepper.
  4. Beat again until fully blended.

From there, just make sure you keep the bowl away from direct heat, just so the eggs don’t begin to cook.

Top Tip #1 – Make sure you fully beat the eggs (so there’s no gloopy bits) and finely grate the cheese. You want the egg mixture as smooth as possible so it easily forms into a sauce without clumping.

How to make carbonara egg mix - 4 step by step photos

Alrighty, we’ve got the egg mix, let’s talk spaghetti.

It’s essential that you only cook the spaghetti until it’s al dente. You’ll be tossing the spaghetti in the pan quite a bit and if it’s too soft it will just break into lots of small strands. Which essentially means not fork twizzling 🙁

Egg mix done, spaghetti boiling away, let’s head to the pan.

How to make Spaghetti Carbonara without Cream (quick summary)

  1. Add pancetta to pan with clove of garlic and fry until crispy.
  2. Remove garlic and turn heat off.
  3. Add spaghetti.
  4. Toss with a splash of starchy pasta water.
  5. Pour in egg mixture.
  6. Toss until glossy, slightly creamy and fully blended.
Top Tip #2 – Wait a minute or so for the oil to stop sizzling before you add the spaghetti. If the pan is too hot the eggs will scramble. Work quickly and toss thoroughly to avoid this.

How to make spaghetti carbonara without cream - 6 step by step photos

Creamy Carbonara without Cream

From there you’ll end up with a glossy, yet ever-so-slightly creamy sauce. At points it might start drying up, in this case just add another splash of starchy pasta water to thin out again.

I recommend serving up right away and with plenty of extra cheese on top.

Hey, whilst you’re here why not check out my other recipes?

Quick Pasta Recipes

Alrighty, let’s tuck into this classic carbonara recipe shall we?!

spaghetti carbonara on white plate with saucepan blurred in background and fork resting on plate

How to make Spaghetti Carbonara Without Cream (Full Recipe & Video)

spaghetti carbonara on white plate with saucepan blurred in background and fork resting on plate

Spaghetti Carbonara No Cream

Here I'll show you how to make a Classic Carbonara that's creamy, but doesn't use cream. With a few simple ingredients this makes the perfect weeknight dinner!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 530kcal
Cost per serving: £1 / $1

Equipment

  • Large pot (for spaghetti)
  • Bowl & Fork (for beating eggs)
  • 12" Skillet
  • Wooden Board & Sharp Knife
  • Fine Cheese Grater
  • Pasta Tongs

Ingredients

  • 1lb / 500g Spaghetti
  • 9oz / 250g Pancetta, diced (see notes)
  • 2.6oz / 75g Pecorino, finely grated (plus extra to serve) (see notes)
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Whole Eggs
  • 1 clove of Garlic, peeled & crushed with the palm of your hand
  • Salt & Cracked Black Pepper (see notes)
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Instructions

  • In a bowl, beat together 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks until the eggs drip neatly through the fork (no gloopy bits). Stir in 2.6oz/75g pecorino and a good few pinches of black pepper. Place to one side, away from direct heat.
  • Pop your spaghetti in heavily salted boiling water and cook until al dente (a teeny bit hard). Scoop a cup of starchy pasta water out towards the end.
  • Meanwhile, add a clove of gently crushed garlic and 9oz/250g pancetta to a pan over medium heat. If your pancetta is fairly lean then heat 1 tsp olive oil beforehand. Fry until nice and crispy, with the fat fully rendered.
  • Remove garlic and TURN OFF HEAT. If you have an electric stove top then take the pan off the heat completely. Wait for a minute until the oil stops sizzling.
  • Add your spaghetti to the pan and immediately toss through the pancetta fat. Add a splash of starchy water and continue tossing until the spaghetti goes nice and glossy.
  • Pour your egg mixture on top of the spaghetti and quickly continue to toss. It's important to work fast or the egg will begin to cook and scramble. If the spaghetti starts to dry out then add another splash of starchy pasta water. The leftover heat from the pan and from the spaghetti will gently cook the eggs, but not so much they scramble. You're looking for a glossy, ever-so-slightly saucy and creamy texture.
  • Season to taste then serve right away with extra pecorino!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes

a) Spaghetti - It's important to only cook the spaghetti until al dente. Because you're going to be tossing the pasta more than you usually would in a sauce, if it's too soft it'll just break up and you'll end up with tonnes of tiny strands of spaghetti. Which means no fork twizzling 🙁
b) Pancetta - It's most traditional to use guanciale (pork cheek), but it's fairly tricky to find in regular supermarkets. As such, Pancetta is a great sub. Failing that you could also use bacon.
c) Pecorino - You can sub parmesan for this if you wish. In either case, make sure it's finely grated so it's melts quickly into the sauce when added to the spaghetti.
d) Black Pepper - Firstly just make sure you're using cracked black pepper (not the powdered stuff). A carbonara is supposed to be quite peppery, so don't be shy. I usually go with anywhere between 1/4 - 1/2 tsp, but work to preference. You can always add more towards the end.
e) Heat - It's really important to control the heat when you add the eggs. Too hot and the eggs will scramble. The key is making sure the pan is off the heat BEFORE the spaghetti is added. Tiny clumps at the beginning will just be the cheese, so don't panic too much in the first instance.
f) Calories - Based on using no extra oil or parmesan. Divided by 4.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti Carbonara No Cream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 530 Calories from Fat 303
% Daily Value*
Fat 33.67g52%
Saturated Fat 5.501g28%
Trans Fat 0.164g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.467g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.202g
Cholesterol 464mg155%
Sodium 634mg26%
Potassium 431mg12%
Carbohydrates 34.33g11%
Fiber 5.1g20%
Sugar 1.74g2%
Protein 24.19g48%
Vitamin A 606IU12%
Vitamin C 0.2mg0%
Calcium 219mg22%
Iron 3.21mg18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

If you loved this Spaghetti Carbonara recipe be sure to pin it for later! Already made it or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

Newsletter

You Might Also Like

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Sara Welch
    September 3, 2019 at 3:06 am

    5 stars
    Delicious recipe! Easily, a new family favorite in our home! Excited to have it again later this week!

  • Reply
    Caitlyn Erhardt
    September 3, 2019 at 2:00 am

    5 stars
    This looks like the perfect pasta dish for any occasion! Wonderful recipe, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Cathy
    September 3, 2019 at 12:53 am

    5 stars
    Chris, this Carbonara recipe looks devine! Can’t believe how creamy it looks without cream! I cannot wait to try this this week!

  • Reply
    Adriana
    September 3, 2019 at 12:15 am

    5 stars
    You offer terrific tips and useful information; carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes, so comforting and lovely way to enjoy pasta and bacon.

  • Reply
    Jamie
    September 3, 2019 at 12:02 am

    5 stars
    This was so creamy and delicious! Everyone loved it!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.