Idiot-proof Carbonara

Carbonara is one of the most popular Italian recipes. Everyone outside of Italy seems to have their own version of it which is something that deeply upsets us Italians. If you want to see a raging Italian tell them that the original recipe has cream in it and look at their face turning red. I know, we can be a little extra when it comes to our food but that’s because we are deeply proud of it.

BUT! I’m about to make someone mad here because as I started wondering where this recipe originated I found out everything but what I expected. As one of those Italians that would turn red at any slight variation, I must say I had to fight the urge to not believe in its History.

Why? Well, it turns out that carbonara is American?? WHAT! There are many myths but the most accredited one says that during the second world war in 1944 (not even an ancient recipe), an Italian cook called Renato Gualandi prepared a pasta with the ingredients he could find in the “K rations” from the American army, which consisted in: powdered egg yolks, grated cheese, bacon, and milk (again…WHAT?).

It must be in our DNA to be good chefs cause even in such a dark and scary moment, Renato put together what will be one of the most popular dishes in Italy. But why are we so strict with the ingredients of this recipe if its origins are so different than today? Well, it’s been more than 30 years since we settled to the classic three elements (Guanciale, Pecorino, Eggs) and if you ever tried traditional Carbonara you would know why. It really doesn’t require any cream or additional fat, given that all its ingredients are already fat-based. 

Now let me share with you the traditional – and only – recipe of carbonara. 

Idiot-proof carbonara

Nicole Vittoria
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 8 egg yolks (2 egg yolks per person)
  • 70 gr pecorino romano
  • 200 gr guanciale
  • pepper


  • First thing first, bring a pot of water to a boil, add a bit of salt (not too much, the guanciale and pecorino are already very salty), and cook the pasta.  
  • In the meantime fry the thin strips of guanciale until they will turn crispy (not burned!). When ready, remove them from the pan. 
  • In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the grated pecorino Romano and the melted guanciale fat from the pan. You can substitute it with some pasta water to make it lighter but…do we really need to spare those few calories in a carbonara?? Yeah, I don’t think so.
  • Drain the pasta 2 minutes before the time and keep a glass of pasta water, you could need it later. 
  • To make carbonara idiot-proof just add the pasta directly into the bowl containing the egg and cheese mixture so it will be impossible (yes, impossible) for you to cook the eggs.
    This pasta must be very creamy so if it feels dry, add a few tablespoons of pasta water at a time. 
  • Add the guanciale strips at the end to keep them crunchy and babe, ENJOY!
  • Buon appetitoooooooo


The swiss in me wants to specify that there are many more hypotheses on the origin of Carbonara so I’m going to cite two:
  1.  Carbonara was born from the carbonari – the coalmen –   in the Abruzzo region who invented this pasta thanks to the easy reparability of the ingredients;
  2. originated in Napoli because already in 1837 there is a testimony in a cookbook of pasta with eggs, cheese, and pepper, the basis of this dish;
I won’t get into depth because I am not a historian and carbonara’s birth is already confusing (and upsetting if you ask me) as it is so I don’t have the energy to look for more intel. Sorry not sorry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Nicole Vittoria © Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.