Eating a bowl of Fettuccine Carbonara with Pancetta is the ultimate comfort food. The addition of pancetta gives this rich and creamy sauce a flavor boost that is amazing. Best of all pancetta pasta comes together in just 30 minutes.
Everyone needs a little comfort food to get through the cold days of January. Lasagna can’t be beat, but it’s hard to make on a weeknight. A carbonara recipe comes together in no time and you just need one pot so clean up’s a breeze.
We first made pancetta pasta when Natalie was in high school and had to come up with an Italian dish to make for a school project. What could be more classic Italian than fettuccine carbonara with pancetta!
Why you’ll love it
- It’s ready in just 30 minutes!
- You only need a few ingredients
- The creamy sauce is to die for.
- The flavor punch from pancetta compliments the rich sauce.
- You can’t mess this up, it’s a fool proof recipe.
- Everyone will love it and will be licking their plates. 🥰
This recipe is simple enough for a novice chef, sometimes simple is the best. There are only a few ingredients, so try to use good quality ones. When possible, I use pancetta and fresh pasta from Giacomo’s, an Italian market close by.
Grate the parmesan right before adding and use the best you can find. Since it’s so simple the ingredients really make a difference.
If you’re not in the mood for Italian but want a simple pasta dish, try a Ranch chicken pasta, or a one pot taco spaghetti.
What you’ll need
- Pancetta – a salt-cured meat that you dice into small pieces, it’s flavor is intense, so a little goes a long way
- Cinnamon – the surprise ingredient that really improves this dish.
- Heavy cream – carbonara needs the fat from heavy cream to create the decadent texture.
- Parmesan cheese – a must for any Italian dish, don’t use the pre-grated packages, it won’t melt as well and does not have as much flavor as fresh grated.
- Large eggs – use the yolks only, save the whites for breakfast or to top a chocolate pie.
- Fettuccine or bucatini – fresh is the best but dried will work fine. While most traditional carbonara recipes call for fettuccine, I prefer bucatini. Bucatini is a thick hollow spaghetti like pasta with a tiny hole down the length of the pasta. This makes it great to absorb the sauce.
- Fresh chives – a mild but delicious herb that adds a pop of flavor – these are optional.
Pancetta pasta is guaranteed to become a family favorite. A pinch of cinnamon adds a hint of sweetness without adding any sugar and is a great compliment to the salty pancetta. As much as I want to make this every day, it does have heavy cream, so, I try to restrain myself.
How to cook fresh pasta
If you’re using fresh pasta, it won’t take nearly as long to cook as dried pasta. It will only take about 1-3 minutes, watch it closely so that you don’t over cook the pasta. No one wants mushy pasta. Dried pasta will take about 10 minutes. Make sure you add a good handful of salt to the water and bring it to a full boil before adding the pasta.
How do you make Pancetta with Pasta
Cook the pancetta in a large skillet until crisp and add cinnamon.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, and egg yolks. Add the cream mixture to the pan with the pancetta and cook at a very low simmer.
While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fettuccine and cook.
Drain the pasta and add it to the cream mixture. Continue cooking over very low heat until the sauce coats the pasta thickly.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Pro tip: My suggestion is not to prepare carbonara in advance, it really does taste best eaten right away.
Taylor made this when she studied abroad for her housemates and they have asked for a repeat for their reunion dinner. Since she doesn’t have pots and pans at school, she made it at home and warmed it up the next day for the dinner.
It wasn’t quite as good, but college kids will eat anything. If you need a pasta that does reheat the next day, be sure to try Stuffed Shells with Spinach or Pasta alla vodka.
FAQs and tips
It’s a simple sauce that takes alfredo to the next level by adding egg yolks in addition to the pasta with heavy cream, and parmesan.
Pancetta comes from the pork belly and is seasoned, then salt-cured. It adds a smokey flavor, similar to bacon but with more flavor.
No, traditionally carbonara does not have peas. You’ll find peas in fettuccine alfredo recipes.
For carbonara you want a long noodle that the sauce can cling to. Almost any linguine type pasta will work for this dish. A very thin pasta will not be able to hold the sauce so stay away from angel hair.
More Pasta Recipes
Adapted from Giada’s Everyday Pasta
- 8 oz Pancetta chopped
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- 2 cups Heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese
- 6 large Eggs yolk only
- 18 oz fettuccine/bucatini
- 2 tablespoons Fresh chives chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Cook the pancetta in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sauté until the meat is crisp and golden, about 2 minutes longer. Turn the heat to low.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, and egg yolks. Add the cream mixture to the pan with the pancetta and cook at a very low simmer, stirring often until it is just slightly thickened. This won't take long.
- While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 1-3 minutes if fresh, 10 minutes if dried.
- Drain the pasta and add it to the cream mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking over very low heat until the sauce coats the pasta, about 2 minutes, do not let it boil.
- Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- This is best served right away.
- Use the freshest ingredients you can find.
- You can substitute bacon for pancetta.
- You can use any type of long pasta, other than angel hair which is too thin to hold the sauce.
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