Traditional carbonara



Carbonara was supposedly “invented” by the carbonai (charcoal burners in Roman dialect), in the area of Aquila, with ingredients that were easy to find and store, such as pasta, eggs and pecorino cheese. In fact, to make charcoal, it was necessary to keep an eye on the charcoal kiln for a long time, so it was important to have necessary provisions with you. The addition of pepper came much later to give a balsamic note. The original version was therefore very different from the more recent one, and even today the carbonara prepared in the homes of Romans differs from that offered in restaurants, where the emphasis is on absolute creaminess!

Chef Luciano Monosilio, "the king of carbonara", explains here how to prepare creamy Roman-style carbonara! This is a version that everyone can make, which will allow you to achieve a perfect result both in terms of taste and creaminess of the sauce. The ingredients are the classic ones: aged guanciale, egg yolks, Pecorino cheese (with the addition of Grana Padano to balance the saltiness), and freshly ground black pepper. You'll discover the secret ingredient by reading and cooking!

Check out other tasty versions of traditional carbonara:

And other classic pasta recipes, staples of Italian cuisine:


Spaghettoni 10 oz (320 g)
Guanciale 7 oz (200 g)
Egg yolks 4 - medium
Grana Padano PDO cheese ¼ cup (30 g) - freshly grated
Pecorino Romano PDO cheese 3 tbsp (20 g) - freshly grated
Ground black pepper 0.75 oz (20 g) - freshly ground
To serve the dish
Pecorino Romano PDO cheese 3 tbsp (20 g) - freshly grated

How to prepare Traditional carbonara

To prepare Carbonara, start with the guanciale: from the piece of guanciale remove the pork rind and the peppery part, to prevent it from burning while cooking. Cut it into large cubes (0.2''x 0.2''). Place a frying pan on a warm stove and add the guanciale, simmer until brown without adding any other fat and bring it to a pink-gold color without burning.

Once the guanciale is ready, set it aside with its own fat.

Boil the water for the pasta. When it boils, add a little salt, and throw in the pasta and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, grate the Pecorino and Grana Padano cheeses. Place the grated cheese in a steel bowl. Crack the eggs, and add only the yolks.

Add freshly grated pepper. Start stirring with a hand whisk, then use a ladle to add a little pasta cooking water and stir some more. Now transfer the steel bowl to the pot of pasta water, placing a ladle so that a vent is left and the water does not escape.

Continue stirring with the whisk, and add a ladleful of cooking fat from the guanciale. To see if the cream is ready, the egg yolk must reach a temperature of 150°F (65°C) – to check you can use the “bowl scraper test”: dip a rubber bowl scraper into the cream, and run your finger over it to make a line, if the egg yolk doesn’t run, it’s ready.

When the pasta is also ready, drain it directly into the steel bowl, stir with tongs continuously, add cooking water as needed, toss and stir away from the heat. Finally add almost all the guanciale, add a little more cooking water, stir again and finish cooking on the bain-marie. Serve on a plate, finishing each portion with additional guanciale, more grated Pecorino cheese to taste, and a generous amount of ground pepper.

How to store

It is recommended to consume the creamy Roman-style carbonara immediately. If desired, you can brown the guanciale in advance, taking care to keep the fat at room temperature to prevent it from solidifying.


The ideal aging time for guanciale is 3-4 months: the longer it ages, the more aromatic it becomes when cooked (and less salty).