Traditional Carbonara Recipe – No Cream

To make traditional carbonara, don’t use cream, garlic or peas. You don’t even need salt or olive oil!

Making this traditional carbonara, you can leave out the cream, garlic peas or any other colorful additions! All you need is a few key ingredients that work so perfectly together that they’ve stood the test of time in Italian cuisine.

You can make this dish regularly because it’s so simple and delicious. And it’s a nice break from the more common tomato sauce-based pasta.

The bottom line is that you absolutely don’t need cream to make an authentic carbonara dish. Instead, just rely on the combination of eggs, cream and grease from the pancetta (or guanciale if you can find it) to create the perfect creamy carbonara.

You don’t even need salt because the pancetta and the cheese add plenty of salt to the dish.

You can use pecorino Romano, which is the traditional cheese they use in Rome to make the dish. Pecorino Romano is actually easy to find at nearly any grocery store or small market.

Pecorino Romano Carbonara
Pecorino Romano is the recommended cheese for traditional spaghetti carbonara.

Still, if you prefer parmesan, the experts say that’s a totally fine substitute! Get the block of parmesan and grate it yourself — avoid those cans of powder.

The traditional carbonara recipe with no cream here also calls for pancetta, which is salt-cured pork belly. However, if you can find guanciale, that would be even better. Now, if you have a hard time finding the blocks of pancetta, you can use precut pancetta. Ideally, you’d slice pancetta into cubes yourself, though.

Finally, pay special care when it comes to adding the egg cheese sauce. You want to do this both quickly and without a lot of heat. You need to move quickly because you want the hot pasta and the hot pan (which will not be on heat, but just removed from heat) to cook the eggs into a creamy sauce.

If you wait too long to add the egg and cheese sauce, you won’t get that nice cream sauce — it will be more runny because it won’t have a chance to heat up well from the pasta. On the other hand, if you keep the pan on too much heat as you stir in the egg sauce, it may result in eggs that are cooked too much, or scrambled. You want a creamy sauce, not thick eggs.

Consider the step where you add the egg and cream mixture to the pan and pasta to be “show time.”

Easy Carbonara Recipe with No Cream

Making traditional spaghetti carbonara with no cream is simple, but it's important to first learn the traditional way of cooking this dish.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time22 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Easy Carbonara, Real Carbonara, Spaghetti Carbonara
Servings: 2 people
Author: Rebecca McClay


  • Pan
  • Pot for boiling water
  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Tongs
  • Bowl
  • Cheese Grater


  • 1 handful Spaghetti
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 handful Pancetta
  • Salt for Pasta Water


  • Boil water for pasta, adding salt.
  • Cut pancetta into cubes or rectangular pieces.
  • Grate Pecorino. Add grated cheese into a bowl with two eggs and one egg yolk.
  • Mix eggs and cheese together, adding about 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Fry pancetta.
  • When pancetta is nearly done, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to al dente instructions, about 6 minutes. When pancetta is done, remove the pan from heat.
  • When pasta is al dente, quickly transfer it to the pancetta pan. Do not drain or rinse the pasta. Then, quickly pour in the egg and cheese mixture.
  • Stir the pancetta, pasta and egg mixture continuously until it forms a creamy sauce. Be careful not to keep your pan on the heat because that could result in scrambled egg-type mixture. If you need a bit more creaminess for your pasta, add some of the pasta water, which has starch.
  • Serve pasta carbonara immediately, topping with more black pepper.

Is Pecorino the Same as Parmesan?

Pecorino is not the same as Parmesan, although both are hard grating cheeses. The pecorino made in Italy is made from sheep’s milk, and parmesan is made from cow’s milk. Pecorino is a younger cheese, as parmesan is aged longer. Pecorino is also saltier than parmesan.

easy spaghetti carbonara recipe
Spaghetti is the traditional choice for carbonara pasta.

Which type of Pasta is Best for Carbonara?

The best type of pasta to use for carbonara is the traditional pasta used for this dish – spaghetti. You use either thicker or thin spaghetti, both of which do a great job of holding the sauce on the noodle.

Some people also substitute fettucine, which is the flatter long noodle, or bucatini, which is similar to spaghetti but has a hole in the middle.

Does Spaghetti Carbonara Have Raw Eggs?

Yes, spaghetti carbonara has raw eggs, and often extra egg yolks, which make the sauce creamy.

With a traditional carbonara recipe, the egg sauce cooks gently with the heat of the pasta as well as some residual heat from the pan that has cooked the pancetta or other meat. The risk of getting an illness from the raw egg sauce is extremely low.

Even so, this sauce is still considered to be raw eggs, so if you have restrictions on eating raw eggs (if you’re pregnant or elderly), you may want to avoid this dish.

Does Carbonara Have Cream?

Traditional carbonara spaghetti does not have cream. Instead, a carbonara recipes calls for a sauce glaze that is made of egg yolks, starch water, pecorino cheese and black pepper. Some restaurants may include cream in their carbonara dishes, but this is not authentic carbonara.

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