Pasta Carbonara (Amalfi Coast Recipe)

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5 from 134 votes

At a quaint, off the beaten path café in Amalfi, Italy, I had the best pasta carbonara I’ve ever had (and one of the single best pasta dishes ever consumed). The family that owned this café was so happy that we loved their carbonara, that they invited me into their kitchen to watch the magic happen. It was one of the best moments of my life!

This simple pasta carbonara recipe is a perfect flavor blend of creamy richness and a porky kick. This timeless Italian classic is kicked up a notch with this Amalfi version, adding shallots and whole milk to the dish for extra flavor and creaminess. Your taste buds will thank you!

Want another classic Italian pasta dish recipe? Try Pasta al Limone!

What is Pasta Carbonara?

Carbonara is a traditional Roman pasta dish that combines few, but high-quality ingredients. This dish showcases the harmonious blend of pasta, eggs, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, guanciale (cured pork jowl) or pancetta, and black pepper. The result is a creamy, rich sauce that clings to the pasta, creating an indulgent flavor experience.

This “Amalfi style” includes the five standard ingredients in Roman carbonara (spaghetti, pancetta/guanciale, eggs, parmesan cheese, and black pepper), but it also includes whole milk and shallots.

Still – this recipe doesn’t include cream or peas that you’d typically see in carbonara throughout the US. This Amalfi carbonara is delicate like the Roman version, but it has just a bit more creaminess with a touch of sharpness from the shallots. I was so lucky to be able to watch and cook carbonara with a local pro. Here’s how she made carbonara as I remember it. She didn’t measure out ingredients, so I’ve experimented with the recipe to recreate it just how I remember it tasting!

Tips for Marking Pasta Carbonara

  • Choose Quality Ingredients: Opt for high-quality eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and pancetta to ensure an authentic and flavorful Carbonara base.
  • Respect Tradition: Stick to the traditional ingredients and preparation methods for an authentic taste that pays homage to its Italian roots.
  • Mind the Heat: While cooking the sauce, use low heat to avoid scrambling the eggs, achieving a silky and creamy texture. I use pasteurized eggs (previously heat-treated) since I don’t like to take any risks when working with raw ingredients.
  • Pasta Water is Your Friend: Save a cup of pasta cooking water before draining. The starchy water can be added to the sauce for a smoother consistency.
  • Serve and Eat Immediately: Carbonara is best eaten right after preparation to enjoy its creamy goodness at its peak.

Pasta Carbonara Ingredients

  • High-quality spaghetti: Nothing beats a perfect al dente pasta. Spaghetti or bucatini is the go-to noodle for this dish.
  • Pancetta or guanciale: Pancetta is milder, while guanciale is more intense and fatty. I like pancetta!
  • Parmigiano Reggiano: Parmigiano is used in the sauce to add creaminess and flavor, and as a finishing touch.
  • Whole milk: Whole milk adds a creamy richness to balance the sauce’s flavors and texture.
  • Shallots: Shallots add an onion-like kick providing subtle depth to the dish.
  • Eggs (I use pasteurized): Eggs also contribute to the creaminess and richness to the sauce.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: EVOO helps saute shallots.
  • Black pepper to taste: Freshly cracked black pepper adds a warm, peppery kick.

How to Make Pasta Carbonara

Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!

  1. Combine.

    Whisk together whole milk, egg, cheese, and black pepper to create your sauce base. Set aside.

  2. Boil.

    Cook spaghetti to perfect al dente, according to cooking instructions on the box.

  3. Cook.

    In a separate pot or pan, cook pancetta until just crispy, about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. Drain extra fat (the liquid in the pan!).

  4. Saute.

    Throw in your shallots to the pancetta pan (and a dash of olive oil if needed) and sweat them for about 2 minutes.

  5. Add.

    Drain your pasta and add to the pancetta/shallot pot. Use tongs to combine.

  6. Combine.

    Turn stove off, and add egg mixture, stirring into hot pasta, pancetta and shallots. Stir constantly until all ingredients are steaming hot.

  7. Serve.

    Serve immediately! And of course, with more grated cheese and black pepper!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use bacon instead of guanciale or pancetta?

Guanciale or pancetta are traditional, but bacon can be used as an alternative and still give you the essence of Carbonara.

What if my sauce is too thick?

Incorporate a little more reserved pasta water and gently toss until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.

What if my sauce is too runny?

Add a bit more cheese to help bind the sauce.

Can I add salt?

You can certainly add salt, but the cheese and pancetta/guanciale are plenty salty. Only add a little at a time if you choose to do so.

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Spaghetti is traditional, but you can use any type of pasta shape you like. I prefer to stick to ones that can hold the creamy sauce, like fettuccine, bucatini or rigatoni.

How can I prevent the eggs from scrambling?

Make sure to remove the pan from direct heat before adding the egg and cheese mixture and toss quickly to coat the pasta evenly.

Can I make pasta carbonara in advance?

Carbonara is best enjoyed fresh, as reheating can cause the eggs to overcook and the sauce to become less creamy.

Can I reheat leftover carbonara?

Reheating carbonara is not recommended as it can result in a loss of creaminess.

How can I ensure the pasta is al dente?

Taste the pasta a minute or two before the suggested cooking time ends. It should have a slight firmness when bitten, as it will continue cooking briefly when combined with the sauce.

Other Pasta Recipes You’ll Love

Pasta Carbonara (Amalfi Coast Recipe)

At a quaint, off the beaten path café in Amalfi, Italy, I had the best pasta carbonara I’ve ever had (and one of the single best pasta dishes ever consumed). The family that owned this café was so happy that we loved their carbonara, that they invited me into their kitchen to watch the magic happen. It was one of the best moments of my life!
5 from 134 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: any season, winter
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 845kcal
Author: TastefullyGrace

Ingredients

  • 1 pound good-quality spaghetti
  • 8 ounces pancetta or guanciale, which is fattier and gamier
  • 1 ½ cup parmigiano reggiano plus more to garnish
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 3 large eggs you can substitute pasteurized eggs if you prefer!
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste

Instructions

  • In a bowl, whisk together milk, egg, cheese, and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Begin boiling spaghetti to al dente, according to cooking instructions on box.
  • In a separate large pot, sauté pancetta in a dry pan until it just starts to get crispy, about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. Drain extra fat (the liquid in the pan!). Add shallots (and a dash of olive oil if needed) and sweat them for about 2 minutes. Then turn heat to low to keep ingredients warm.
  • Drain pasta and add to pancetta/shallot pot. Use tongs to combine. Turn stove off, and add egg mixture, stirring into hot pasta, pancetta and shallots. Stir constantly until all ingredients are steaming hot.
  • Serve immediately with more grated cheese and black pepper! OH MY!!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 845kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 827mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 386IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 378mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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24 Comments

  1. Suzanne
    May 29, 2024 / 5:52 pm

    5 stars
    Excellent I just added some cooked chicken and roasted broccoli easy meal

    • May 29, 2024 / 6:25 pm

      Hi Suzanne,

      Love to hear this! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Grace

  2. Lucy
    March 25, 2024 / 8:03 pm

    5 stars
    I just made this tonight. Delicious!!! I wouldn’t change anything. My husband is Italian and he loved it. I’ll definitely be making it again.

    • March 26, 2024 / 9:02 am

      Hi Lucy,

      Thank you for your comment! This made my day! I’m so happy you enjoyed 🙂

      Grace

  3. Suzanne Cardall
    February 16, 2024 / 7:13 pm

    5 stars
    Delicious and make again.

    • February 18, 2024 / 1:13 pm

      So so glad to hear! Thanks for your comment, Suzanne!

      Grace

  4. Irene Morales Ward
    December 31, 2023 / 7:19 pm

    5 stars
    Very good recipe! Followed it (almost) exactly as I made half the recipe. I was reluctant not to add salt but other than salting the water for the spaghetti, I left it out. It was perfectly seasoned! I splurged on the pasta, eggs and parmigiano reggiano (not American Parmesan) to get the best quality and boy, I’m glad I did. It was creamy but not at all heavy. Very flavorful! I’ll be making this again!

    • January 2, 2024 / 10:07 am

      Hi Irene,

      Aw thanks so much for the review! I’m SO happy it turned out exactly how I had it in Italy!

      Grace

  5. Angela
    July 18, 2023 / 2:38 pm

    5 stars
    Best thing I’ve ever eaten.

  6. Richelle
    June 6, 2023 / 5:10 pm

    Is the cheese grated, shredded or shaved and is it from a fresh block of cheese or prepackaged?

    • June 6, 2023 / 5:19 pm

      Hi Richelle,

      I recommend a fresh block of cheese, and I grate it with the coarse setting of a cheese grater. I hope this helps!

      Grace

  7. Karen Karsseboom
    April 30, 2023 / 1:40 pm

    I have a question about the recipe. In the video you only used one egg for the Amalfi version but your recipe says 3 eggs. Which is correct? I have friends who are going to Amalfi Coast in October and I want to have a bon voyage dinner before they go. Thanks.

    • April 30, 2023 / 2:18 pm

      Hi Karen,

      That sounds like so much fun! Follow the recipe quantities, not the video quantities. In the video, I was making two versions of carbonara at once with a pound of pasta so changed the quantities of ingredients to accommodate. This video is quite old (right when I started my channel) so I realize now it’s a bit confusing! I’ve come a long way! Enjoy the recipe 🙂

      Grace

  8. queencafe
    February 19, 2023 / 8:40 pm

    Authentic pasta carbonara does not include milk or cream in the recipe! It comes from egg yolks and pecorino cheese mixture together and then mixing it to the spaghetti pasta and guianciale or pancetta and lots of freshly ground pepper.

    • February 21, 2023 / 10:53 am

      Hi! This recipe is the exact recipe shared with me by the owner of an off-the-beaten path restaurant in Amalfi. The owner took me in the back and shared her family recipe with me, showing me live how she makes it. There are several authentic versions of carbonara across Italy and this one happens to be my favorite! I hope you give it a try 🙂

      Grace

      • Karen Karsseboom
        April 30, 2023 / 3:39 pm

        So am I actually using one whole egg and two yokes? I am still confused. I only want to do the Amalfi recipe. Or should I do them both the way you did on the video? I am so confused.

        • April 30, 2023 / 4:16 pm

          Hi Karen,

          Follow the recipe and the ingredients in the recipe card (not the video quantities). 3 eggs, etc.

          Let me know if this helps 🙂
          Grace

  9. Sara
    August 7, 2022 / 12:22 am

    Just made this today and it was FANTASTIC!
    Appreciate the recipe:)

    • TastefullyGrace
      Author
      August 8, 2022 / 12:45 pm

      I am SO happy to hear that! Thank you for leaving a review!

  10. Beth
    July 9, 2022 / 3:19 pm

    Hello! This looks fabulous. I appreciate your enthusiasm for great food and love your simple short instructional video. I would love to make this for a party of 10 but wonder if the volume and timing at the stove would not lend itself to a simple dinner party. Could I make this at least 20 minutes ahead of the party and keep it warm without ruining it?

  11. Steve
    May 15, 2022 / 10:34 pm

    Made this tonight using Pancetta it was very tasty but heavy. Next time I make this I think I will use bacon, and maybe parmigiana reggiano cheese instead of pecorino.

    • TastefullyGrace
      Author
      May 16, 2022 / 2:07 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoyed! I definitely don’t recommend pecorino cheese…parmigiano reggiano is the classic!

5 from 134 votes (129 ratings without comment)

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