Easy Pasta Carbonara Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food

This rich, filling pasta has a creamy, decadent sauce, salty bacon, cheesy goodness, and plenty of ways to vary it and make it your own.

Updated January 5, 2024
Pasta carbonara

For a bowl of pure comfort, nothing beats pasta carbonara. With how flavorful the pasta is, it is deceptively easy, we promise. It's one of my favorite weeknight suppers to make because it comes together so darn quickly and tastes so good. 

Basic Pasta Carbonara

Don't worry... while it looks like the eggs won't be cooked, the heat of the noodles cooks them, and the eggs become your sauce. For the best flavor, use the freshest eggs you can get... I source mine from a friend who has backyard chickens. 


  • 8 ounces of dried or fresh pasta, cooked according to package instructions and drained 
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus extra for garnish
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the bacon on medium-high, stirring occasionally, until bacon is browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the bacon from the fat in the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside to drain on paper towels. Drain the fat from the skillet and return 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease to the skillet.
  4. Add the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the cooked and drained pasta and reserved bacon to the pan. Stir to heat through.
  7. Reduce the heat to low. Add the egg.
  8. Cook, stirring constantly, until the egg warms through, one to two minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cheese. Serve immediately. If desired, finish each serving with an additional grind of freshly cracked black pepper.
Helpful Hack

When you drain your noodles, reserve about a cup of the pasta water. You can use it to adjust the consistency of your sauce, and it helps the sauce cling to the pasta better.

Variation: Penne Carbonara With Peas

pasta carbonara with green peas

This variation makes two simple changes to the recipe above. It uses penne pasta, and you add fresh or frozen peas when you add the shallots. This recipe serves 4. To make penne carbonara with peas, follow the recipe above but do the following:

  • Cook 8 ounces of fresh or dried penne according to package directions and drain it.
  • Add 1 cup of fresh shelled peas (or thawed frozen peas) to the pan when you add the shallots (step 4) and continue with the recipe as written.
Quick Tip

Try replacing the bacon with pancetta for a slightly different flavor profile. 

Variation: Spaghetti Carbonara With Broccoli and Mushrooms

Spaghetti Carbonara with broccoli and mushrooms

This variation also uses the same recipe as above, but invites you to add 1 cup of fresh broccoli florets and 1 cup of sliced mushrooms to the basic recipe. It still serves 4. To make it, complete the recipe as above but do the following.

  • Cook 8 ounces of fresh or dried spaghetti according to package instructions and drain it.
  • When you add the shallots (in step 4), also add 1 cup of broccoli florets and 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Related: 13 Yummy Things to Do With Leftover Pasta

More Add-Ins

Want to add your own spin? We've got some foods you can add to make it even more special:

  • Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Add chopped, fresh basil as a garnish.
  • Replace parmesan with asiago cheese or mizithra cheese. 
  • Add chopped asparagus spears when you add the shallots.
  • Add roasted red peppers when you add the eggs.
  • Garnish with capers.
  • Top each portion with a poached egg.
  • Add a cooked protein such as shrimp, crab meat, or chicken breast for a heartier meal.

Your New Favorite Comfort Food

Breakfast foods for dinner never tasted quite so good as they do in pasta carbonara. It's a rich and satisfying pasta that just may become your new favorite comfort food. 

Easy Pasta Carbonara Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food