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Marcella Hazan's Spaghetti Carbonara recipe

I tend to stick to her bolognese and pesto recipes when it comes to pasta, but tried her spaghetti carbonara recipe over the weekend. It's terrific. Significantly lighter than some other carbonaras I have had in the past (which are still delicious, but feel like a heart attack on a plate).

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  1. hers is the recipe i use. couldn't agree more.... it's perfect.

    1. what is the difference in her recipe, may I ask?

      2 Replies
      1. re: alex8alot

        My husband makes a version with two whole eggs, two egg yolks, and cream. It's delicious, but oh so heavy. The Hazan's recipe has two eggs and no cream. It also has a mix of parmesan and romano (1/2 cup parmesan and 1/4 cup romano) that I think gives it a nice bite and flavor that parmesan-only recipes don't have.

        1. re: alex8alot

          Another difference that no one has yet mentioned: after crisping the pancetta, she deglazes the skillet with white wine, which provides refreshing acidity and another layer of flavour.

        2. thanks for the quick reply! No cream... and it still tastes good... I will give it a shot. Does she use pancetta or any pig?

          1 Reply
          1. re: alex8alot

            Pancetta (if you can get it) or bacon.

          2. I love that recipe - it's a great "there's nothing in the house to eat recipe" - I can usually dig up spaghetti, eggs, parmesan and pancetta (and have used bacon if I'm out of pancetta). I don't think the dish needs cream.

            1. I agree. It's better without the cream. Concerning the eggs: Has anyone seen a recipe (or tried it themselves) using just the egg yolks (in addition to the other igredients)?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Summerfield

                I always use just the egg yolks and no cream. I don't have a "set" recipe anymore, as I've made it enough to know the basics for however much pasta I'm making. Sautee the bacon/pancetta until crispy, drain then crumble. while that's draining, I sautee some chopped onion until soft and add some minced garlic, return the crumbled bacon to the pan to keep warm, add any herbs I'm in the mood for (usually fresh chopped parsley and fresh sage if I have it) and peas or asparagus to heat through if I'm doing a veggie version. I add the bacon pan to the drained hot spaghetti and toss a bit. I beat the egg yolks until a bit creamy, add a bit of the hot spaghetti to temper, then add the eggs to the pasta and toss like a madwoman. Dinnertime!

                1. re: weezycom

                  One thing I like about the Marcella recipe, as I recall it, is that you cook some garlic in the oil, and then remove it, so you get the flavor of garlic, w/o the actual pieces.

                  1. re: weezycom

                    Does sauteeing pancetta require olive oil to do the job or does it sautee in its own fat?

                    1. re: Summerfield

                      The recipe calls for sauteeing the pancetta in 3 tablespoons of olive oil (the previous poster was correct that you first saute a split clove of garlic until it is golden, scoop that out, and saute the pancetta in the oil).

                2. The last time I made carbonara (one large serving), I used 2 whole eggs + 1 yolk, and I'd do it again. The results were great. I tempered the eggs with a bit of the pasta water, which eliminated the problem one sometimes gets of the eggs cooking too fast when they contact the pasta. The extra yolk added a satisfying richness without any of the heaviness that cream would add.

                  1. Hers is a traditional recipe and traditionally carbonara doesn't contain cream. As much as I love cream, I think it's better without!

                    1. don't forget the black pepper and parsley. i've never had carbonara with cream. and this one is delicious. very silky with the garlicky oil, wine, and eggs and cheese.

                      1. Do you think the recipe will work if the only cheese I had was TJ's grated parmesan?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sarah

                          most definitely. i've stopped letting not having the exact ingredients stop me from a recipe. Ms. Hazan would probably disagree, citing authenticity, but it's still delicious. i've done all romano, all parm and a mixture of both. i've left out the parsley when i've not had it and added some cooking water to the eggs on occassion and subbed bacon for pancetta in a pinch. it's bacon egg and cheese pasta! delicious any way!

                        2. what book is this recipe in?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jmax

                            I found it in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

                            1. re: Megiac

                              Yes, though it was originally included in More Classic Italian Cooking, where it came with second-course suggestions: beef braised with onions, Palermo-style breaded veal cutlets, braised veal shanks, roast breast of veal, lamb stew with vinegar and green beans (swoon) and chicken fricassee with red cabbage.

                          2. Thanks for bringing this recipe to my attention. I made it tonight for dinner after a long day at work and minimal ingredients in the fridge. I used bacon instead of pancetta and scaled back the ingredients a tad since I used 1 lb. spaghetti (instead of the 1.25 lb. she calls for). She doesn't say anything about draining the bacon fat, but I removed about 1/3 c. since I didn't want too much grease. Didn't have pecorino so used all parmigiano reggiano.

                            The result was indeed wonderful! My favorite version of carbonara yet! Perfect in its simplicity, balance, and comfort. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that we polished off the entire pound of pasta in one sitting, but that's how good it was. I like it better than Zuni's version since it's not as eggy and doesn't use any peas or ricotta cheese. I like Marcella's addition of white wine and parsley.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Carb Lover

                              I just remembered that when I made it most recently I had to use red wine instead of white, and it was still delicious! I'm not a big fan of pecorino romano so I pretty much always use parmigiano.

                            2. Thanks for highlighting this recipe! I'd never had a carbonara until last night, and my DH proclaimed upon eating it that it was definitely something to add to the regular rotation. I used a combo of pancetta and bacon (because I didn't have enough pancetta) and all parmesan, and it was lovely. It reinforces the need for super-fresh ingredients, though. We had been to a friend's farm over the weekend, and had been given fresh eggs, so it was perfect. Thanks, 'Hounds! I don't think it would have hit my radar without you!

                              1. From what I can tell by the replies here this looks like the "spaghetti with eggs and cheese" recipe from the 70's version of the Joy of Cooking. I never even knew carbonara usually has cream in the U.S., as I've always made the JofC version. As many have said before it's delicious in it's simplicity and is very easy to customize according to what you have in the fridge at the time.

                                Another of my new favorite easy pantry pasta recipes is the Silver Spoon version of puttanesca. I can't remember if it's in the New Basics or Good Times, but it's a keeper.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Pate

                                  I have her cookbook as recommended by Mario Batali.
                                  I love it and like to read it like a good novel.
                                  In here right now looking for T&T recipes for spaghetti carbonara.
                                  I want to make it for dinner tonight with a grilled salmon that is sitting in lemon and olive oil covered with basil leaves s&p. Thankful I came in here to find this that I'd forgotten about, thanks for posting.........I also have the Silver Spoon cookbook so I'll look there and the JOC I have 2 copies of.

                                  I just fried off applewood smoked pepper bacon that I bought in bulk from a farmers market. Took out one of the seal-a-meal bags that I'd portioned a pound each. Smells so good in here. With the jumber eggs I just bought at TJ's this morning, my Italian flat leaf parsley in pots on the porch, sugar snap peas for a diversion, pecorino and parm and romano cheese + heavy cream and tons of dried noodles, I can't wait for the 6 hours until dinner. Whether I use the cream or not, the peas or not, it's gonna turn out great. I'll post back.

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    Just in case you aren't into reading all the other threads on Spaghetti Carbonara this is what I posted in the we hour long after dinner was complete last night.
                                    So as not to duplicate my story, I copied and pasted from other thread. With one exception I forgot to mention, the inclusion of a good dry white wine.

                                    Dinner all together was perfect.

                                    For the carbonara, 3/4 lb pasta, 4 oz. applewood peppered bacon, 2 jumbo eggs, 1T butter, 2T heavy cream, 1/2 cup snow peas out of their shell, in total 1/2 cup of combined cheese, the pecorino parm and romano, pasta water to thin sauce.
                                    Perfect, maybe not what some would call true carbonara, but no matter to me as it's subjective anyway, it was perfect.