Italian Carbonara with Pecorino and Pancetta

Use a double-boiler for an Italian carbonara that's as good as the traditional stuff—without the uncooked eggs.
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4 servings
Prep Time
05 Mins
Active Time
10 Mins

If Filipino carbonara has cream, Italian carbonara sauce uses eggs—raw yolks, to be exact. This understandably raises some concerns, so we cook our carbonara sauce over a double-boiler. The mild heat pasteurizes the eggs while gently curdling them into a velvety, cheesy sauce.

Italian carbonara uses guanciale (salted pork jowl), which can be difficult and expensive to source. Pancetta is mellower in flavor, but makes a fine (and slightly cheaper) substitute. In a pinch, go with thick-cut bacon—we won’t tell the purists.

  • ¼ cup grated pecorino
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, with extra for garnish
  • 4 egg yolks
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup cubed pancetta or guanciale
  • 300g spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Set up a double boiler: Add an inch or two of water to a pot and bring to a simmer. Place a heatproof mixing bowl on top of the pot. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not make contact with the water.


Make sauce: Combine pecorino cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, egg yolks, and cracked pepper in the mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture thickens then set aside. Maintain a simmer and do not bring water to a boil—the mixture might turn into scrambled eggs!


Cook pancetta: Place pancetta or guanciale in a cold pan over medium-low heat until fat renders out. Spoon out extra rendered fat until you’re left with about 1 ½ tablespoons of it in the pan.


Mix pasta: Add the cooked pasta, a couple tablespoons of the carbonara sauce, and a bit of reserved pasta water to thin it out. Mix until well combined.


Serve: Plate carbonara on a serving dish. Top with extra Parmigiano Reggiano add a few cracks of black pepper. Serve while still warm.

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