Pasta is a time-honored favorite dish, and for good reason. It’s an ideal vehicle for many kinds of sauces, ranging from tomato-based to creamy, meat or no.
Carbonara is a super easy final form for pasta: it doesn’t require a long ingredients list or cook time, and its flavors appeal to even picky eaters.
Although this recipe isn’t authentically Italian, it comes together quickly with ingredients many people already have in the fridge. Onion, garlic, bacon, Parmesan cheese and eggs come together in a creamy sauce that coats spaghetti noodles well, but small, ruffled pasta even better.
Use whatever pasta in your pantry, and don’t try to cook the sauce faster than recommended in the last step – scrambled egg pasta isn’t quite as good as creamy carbonara.
Very Easy Carbonara
2 to 3 servings
30 minutes total time
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
5 strips bacon
3 egg yolks (Save the whites for something else or discard)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Ground black pepper
8 ounces pasta (1/2 box)
Parsley for serving, if you like
Step one: Getting started
Dice the onion, mince the garlic and slice the strips of bacon widthwise to make small 1/2” strips. Beat the egg and egg yolks, then stir in the Parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and as much ground black pepper as you like (it should be strongly peppery). Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil.
Step two: Starting with the sauce
When the water starts boiling, add the pasta and cook for 4 minutes less than package directions, or until it’s still a little crunchy in the middle. Don’t pour out the pasta water. Put a cold skillet on a burner and put in the sliced bacon. Turn the burner to medium heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent burning, until the bacon just starts browning. Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until the pasta is done or the onions start to brown, whichever comes first.
Step three: Finishing the pasta
Add the undercooked pasta and one cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Simmer for a minute or two, and turn the heat off. Slowly pour one cup of the reserved pasta water into the egg mixture, stirring all the while to prevent scrambling the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, stirring, and turn the heat to medium-low.
Step four: Bringing it all together
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly or using tongs to toss the pasta, until the mixture reaches a texture you like, 5 to 6 minutes – it’ll thicken as it cools. The sauce starts extremely watery, but the egg slowly cooks and thickens the sauce; don’t try to speed up the process or the eggs will scramble in the pasta. Just keep tossing over medium-low until it gets there. Taste and adjust for seasoning before serving with more Parmesan cheese, ground black pepper and parsley as desired.