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spaghetti carbonara on white plate with saucepan blurred in background and fork resting on plate
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5 from 6 votes

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!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 530kcal
Cost: £1 / $1

Equipment

  • 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

  • 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

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. 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!

Video

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) Pasta Water - Make sure the water is heavily salted (should taste like the ocean) otherwise it'll dilute the flavour of the carbonara. Also make sure there's only just enough water to boil the water. You want it fairly shallow so it's as starchy as possible, meaning it makes the carbonara nice and creamy! 
c) 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.
d) 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.
e) 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.
f) 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.
g) Calories - Based on using no extra oil or parmesan. Divided by 4.

Nutrition

Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.33g | Protein: 24.19g | Fat: 33.67g | Saturated Fat: 5.501g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.467g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5.202g | Trans Fat: 0.164g | Cholesterol: 464mg | Sodium: 634mg | Potassium: 431mg | Fiber: 5.1g | Sugar: 1.74g | Vitamin A: 606IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 219mg | Iron: 3.21mg