In The Kitchen - Spaghetti Carbonara

When your mother works for Ina Garten, you are the beneficiary of hundreds of mouthwatering meals – and for that, I am so grateful. But one of my family’s favorite tried and true dishes is my Father-in-law’s Spaghetti Carbonara. He started making it for my husband and his brother when they were young, and we've grown to love it more and more over the years!

The first time I remember having it was when we lived in Florida and our daughter, Summer, was very young. My husband’s parents came for a visit and my father-in-law, David, offered to make dinner to give me a night off from cooking. He got in the kitchen and whipped up his Spaghetti Carbonara. Summer gobbled it up and I went back for seconds! That was seven years ago and I’m still making it today. It’s certainly a crowd-pleaser and with an 8, 5 and a 3-year-old that is quite the feat! I often make it for potluck dinner parties and it’s a great dish to share with friends because you can make it ahead.

Usually, I make an entire package of bacon the ‘Ina Garten’ way (baked on a rack over a sheet pan – see this post). I’ll use the leftover bacon for breakfast or salads the rest of the week. But David cooks it in the pan and then sautés the onion and garlic in the bacon grease. When I make it, it’s usually in the afternoon (while the kids are in school or napping) so I'll put the finished product in the crockpot on warm. Then, when we’re ready to eat, I'll stir in a little pasta water – a drier white wine also works. You can set the pasta water aside at room temperature for a few hours or if you have leftovers, I put the water in the fridge to add when I reheat. This is a great recipe to package up in our Chinese Takeout Containers. My kids eat it right out of the containers at room temperature.  



Spaghetti Carbonara


1 cup diced onion
Olive oil
6 slices bacon
1lb spaghetti
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup thawed peas
3 extra large eggs


Cook bacon in a skillet over the stove. Drain and crumble bacon (I opt for the less mess ‘Ina Garten’ cooking method found here). Sauté onion in olive oil for two minutes (or bacon grease, if preferred). Add garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and toss in thawed peas.

Cook spaghetti to al dente. When spaghetti is just about done, put onion/pea mixture back on medium heat to warm. Drain spaghetti (set aside some pasta water). Add spaghetti directly to pan and mix. Pour eggs over spaghetti and toss to coat everything. Add Parmesan and toss once more. If too dry, add pasta water or splash of white wine.

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Nice recipe but not carbonara. Carbonara has no garlic, no peas.

Eggs need to be room temperature and pasta water added bit by bit to be silky.

It’s an art form, sounds like you have the technique mastered!!

Linda Holt Fairchild

For those that are spasing out about the uncooked eggs, i was the same way years ago about the eggs in this type of recipe. However, it doesn’t take much to cook eggs and if you follow the instructions and add those eggs when it all nice and very hot it does cook the eggs. The eggs should be beaten well. Its not like trying to cook an egg to get it over easy. Just think of it this way, as cooks we are ALWAYS trying to avoid cooking the eggs when making curd, or pudding or Creme Brulee. You get the idea. Well this is the one time when you WANT them to cook. So just remember how quickly it can happen without great care. But the actual reason I wanted to post a comment is bacon.
Isn’t that just the very best way to cook bacon, its revolutionary. It changed my life. I rarely made bacon just because of the mess. I felt as though I had to clean the entire kitchen afterwards. I also now follow the Ina Garten theme of cooking everything in the oven. Ever since I was young, about 8 or 9 years old and I was at my maternal grandmother’s farm (a widow) with her sister, my great aunt Maudie (who was a uniquely unusual character, a TRUE spinster farmer in her own right, boy the stories I could tell you about her) and the two farm women were killing chickens. A completely normal and average routine for these two farm women, especially in the 60s, but not for me. And by the way, for anyone who ever wondered, chickens really do run around after their heads have been cut off, at least a bit. But that wasn’t what got to me. It was the chickens placed in the boiling water to clean their feathers or something. That smell, Oh……it was awful. I couldn’t stay in the house. It was REVOLTING! Since that day, almost 50 years ago, I can NOT tolerate the smell of chicken cooking on the stove. Even when my mom would make something, cook chicken for salad, soup, something I couldn’t stay in the kitchen. As an adult if something called for cooked chicken I had to ask my mom to do it for me. I don’t even care to eat roast chicken. (Its so incredibly boring and bland, at least what we had in those days). Neither does my dad so that worked out well, it was rarely if ever made in our home. But I have never been much of a chicken consumer since then. You come to my home, odds are beef will be on the table. Anyway, I have a 11 year old golden retriever (well, as of next Wednesday she will be) and she will NOT eat wet dog food (thank heavens, it smells so awful) but something has to go with her dry kibble so she’ll eat it. I took a page from Ina’s life and its done in the oven with just some salt and pepper (this is for a dog after all) and a decent amount of water so I have flavored broth for mixing. If I had to be cooking this on the stove all the time it would be a nightmare. And then one day Ina spoke about doing chicken in the oven. Now I do it in a small roaster with water instead of a sheet pan so I have some juice to mix with the dry kibble, but it works perfectly. Its made a massive difference in my life.


I do add the eggs raw. I beat them lightly and add them to the pasta as soon as its done. The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs. Enjoy!


I have the same question. Are the eggs added raw or cooked? Also, are they really necessary? Thanks!



I have the same egg question. Do you beat them first and then add them raw?
Also I know this question is a crime but for a vegetarian is there a decent substitute for the bacon???


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