The ultimate comfort dish

Carbonara is from Rome and is one of the world’s favorite pasta dishes. It’s famous for a reason… 

The pasta is coated with an irresistibly creamy sauce, which contrasts with the sharp salty notes of Pecorino cheese, punctuated by crispy morsels of cured pork cheek and laced with aromatic black pepper. It’s just heaven! Carbonara is traditionally prepared with just a handful of ingredients. The magic is all down to the preparation. Take note, garlic, cream, onion…. You are not welcome here!

Make the best out of these simple ingredients, you don’t need anything else. It’s all about the right technique – and lots of practice, of course. The recipe differs from family to family, but this recipe is from our Cesarino Manlio, who learnt to  prepare this recipe with his grandfather. Learn more about Manlio here

Here are some words of advice from Manlio:

Make sure to work quickly and efficiently when making Carbonara. If your pasta has cooled before you add it to the sauce, or your pork cheek doesn’t crisp up in time, your sauce may be a disaster! Use a dried pasta cooked ‘al dente’, not fresh pasta. I love using thick spaghetti, bucatini or mezze maniche.”

When we asked him about the best techniques, he advises a precise method: 

When you drain the pasta, that it’s crucial that you transfer it straight to the sauce without shaking off any of the cooking water. The heat from the freshly boiled pasta, the starchy cooking water, and the fat from the cheese will bind together to make the legendary ‘cremina’, the creamy sauce that makes Carbonara so good.”

Difficulty: medium
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Quantity: 4 people
Cost: low



400-500g dried pasta (bucatini, mezze maniche or thick spaghetti)
4 eggs (1 whole, 3 yolks)
250g 'guanciale' (pork cheek), chopped into thin strips
70g Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
black pepper to taste (powdered is best here)
salt to taste


  1. Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water when it reaches boiling point. 
  2. Chop the guanciale (cured pork cheek) into thin strips and add to a dry pan over a low heat. The fat will render and the meat will become crispy. The meat should be in contact with the dry heat of the pan’s base and not immersed in fat. Make sure to drain the collected fat from the pan at regular intervals to allow the meat to crisp. 
  3. Whilst the guanciale is cooking, add one whole egg and three egg yolks to a mixing bowl. Add the grated Pecorino, a pinch of salt and a dusting of black pepper. Mix until you achieve a homogenous and creamy mixture. 
  4. Make sure the water is at a rolling boil and has been salted. Cook the pasta according to the packet’s instructions. If cooking with long pasta like spaghetti, cook until ‘al dente’. If using Mezze Maniche, it’s best to cook just past ‘al dente’. 
  5. Drain the pasta, but don’t shake out the water from the colander. Transfer the wet pasta immediately to the mixing bowl with the egg and cheese mixture, and start mixing straight away. You should obtain a smooth, creamy sauce that coats the pasta. This part is very important to get right, as you don’t want the egg to over-cook and turn into an omelette! 
  6. Stir the guanciale into the pasta, making sure to separate it carefully from the fat. 
  7. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of Pecorino and a crack of black pepper.  

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