SOS Carbonara: Tips and Tricks for Perfecting the Classic Italian Dish

SOS Carbonara

SOS Carbonara is a classic Italian dish that has been enjoyed for generations. This dish is made with spaghetti, eggs, cheese, and bacon, and it is known for its creamy and rich flavor. Although it is a simple dish, it can be tricky to perfect. In this article, we will discuss some tips and tricks for making the perfect carbonara dish.

History of Carbonara

Before we dive into the recipe and cooking tips, let’s first explore the history of carbonara. The origin of carbonara is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in the Lazio region of Italy. The dish was created during World War II when American soldiers introduced bacon and eggs to the locals. It quickly became a popular dish among Italian families and has since become a staple in Italian cuisine.

The Perfect Carbonara Recipe

Now that we know a little bit about the history of carbonara let’s get into the recipe. Here is a traditional recipe for carbonara that you can easily make at home:


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 pound pancetta or bacon, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cheese until smooth.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and let it cool for a minute. Add the reserved pasta water to the pan and stir.
  5. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan with the pancetta and garlic. Toss the spaghetti to coat it with the pancetta and garlic mixture.
  6. Pour the egg yolk and cheese mixture over the spaghetti and toss until the pasta is coated in the sauce.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks for Perfecting Carbonara

While the recipe is simple, there are a few things to keep in mind when making carbonara. Here are some tips and tricks to help you perfect this classic Italian dish:

1. Use High-Quality Ingredients

One of the most important things to keep in mind when making carbonara is to use high-quality ingredients. This means using good quality bacon or pancetta, fresh eggs, and high-quality cheese. Fresh ingredients will give your carbonara a rich and delicious flavor.

2. Cook the Pasta Al Dente

It is important to cook the pasta al dente when making carbonara. This means that the pasta should be cooked until it is tender but still slightly firm in the center. Overcooked pasta can become mushy and ruin the texture of the dish.

3. Don’t Overcook the Eggs

Overcooking the eggs in carbonara can result in a dry and clumpy dish. It is important to remove the pan from the heat before adding the egg mixture to avoid overcooking.

4. Reserve Pasta Water

Reserving pasta water is a crucial step in making carbonara. The starchy water is used to create a creamy sauce that coats the pasta. Be sure to reserve at least a cup of pasta water before draining.

5. Use a Mixing Bowl

Mixing the egg yolks and cheese in a separate bowl before adding them to the pasta ensures that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

6. Add Garlic for Extra Flavor

While not traditional, adding garlic to carbonara can add an extra depth of flavor to the dish. Be sure to finely mince the garlic to avoid overpowering the other flavors.

7. Use Pecorino Romano Cheese

Pecorino Romano is a traditional cheese used in carbonara and has a tangy and salty flavor. Using this cheese will give your carbonara a more authentic taste.

8. Add Black Pepper to Taste

Black pepper is a key ingredient in carbonara and adds a spicy and slightly earthy flavor. Be sure to add black pepper to taste to balance the dish.

9. Use Tongs to Toss the Pasta

Using tongs to toss the pasta in the pancetta and garlic mixture ensures that the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce. Avoid using a spoon, as it can break up the pasta.

10. Serve Immediately

Carbonara is best served immediately after it is cooked. The longer the dish sits, the more the sauce will thicken and the pasta will become clumpy. Be sure to serve the dish as soon as it is finished cooking.


Carbonara is a classic Italian dish that is simple to make but can be tricky to perfect. By following these tips and tricks, you can make a delicious and authentic carbonara dish at home. Remember to use high-quality ingredients, cook the pasta al dente, reserve pasta water, and serve the dish immediately. With these tips, you can enjoy a perfect plate of carbonara every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti in carbonara?
  • While spaghetti squash can be a healthy alternative to pasta, it does not have the same texture as spaghetti and may not hold up well in the carbonara sauce.
  1. Can I use Parmesan cheese instead of Pecorino Romano in carbonara?
  • While Parmesan cheese can be used as a substitute for Pecorino Romano, it will not give the dish the same tangy and salty flavor.
  1. Can I use turkey bacon instead of pancetta in carbonara?
  • While turkey bacon can be used as a healthier alternative to pancetta, it will not have the same rich and salty flavor.
  1. Can I reheat carbonara?
  • Carbonara is best served immediately after it is cooked. Reheating the dish can cause the sauce to become clumpy and the pasta to lose its texture.
  1. Can I add vegetables to carbonara?
  • While vegetables can be added to carbonara, it may not be traditional. Be sure to use vegetables that complement the flavors of the dish, such as peas or asparagus.

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