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…
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
- Pecorino Romano – Can sub parmesan if that’s what you have.
- Egg Yolks – Adds richness and helps create the sauce.
- Spaghetti – Most traditional, but other long cut pasta would work.
- Black Pepper – Cracked black pepper (not the powdered stuff).
- Garlic – This isn’t so authentic, but adds a nicely gently background flavour.
- 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.
- Whole Eggs – Helps create the sauce
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)
- Add whole eggs and egg yolks to a bowl.
- Beat with a fork until completely smooth.
- Add cheese and black pepper.
- 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.
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)
- Add pancetta to pan with clove of garlic and fry until crispy.
- Remove garlic and turn heat off.
- Add spaghetti.
- Toss with a splash of starchy pasta water.
- Pour in egg mixture.
- Toss until glossy, slightly creamy and fully blended.
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
- Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
- Cream Cheese Pasta
- Penne Alfredo with Bacon and Sun Dried Tomato
- Salmon Pasta in a Creamy Dill Sauce
- All Pasta Recipes
Alrighty, let’s tuck into this classic carbonara recipe shall we?!
How to make Spaghetti Carbonara Without Cream (Full Recipe & Video)
Spaghetti Carbonara No Cream
- Large pot (for spaghetti)
- Bowl & Fork (for beating eggs)
- 12" Skillet
- Wooden Board & Sharp Knife
- Fine Cheese Grater
- Pasta Tongs
- Warm Plates (for serving)
Ingredients (check list):
- 1lb / 500g Dried 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 (optional)
- Salt & Cracked Black Pepper (see notes)
- Olive Oil, as needed
- 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. Don't fill the pot up with too much water - try and keep the water nice and shallow so it's as starchy as possible.
- 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 on warm plates!
Quick 1 min demo!
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!