My Breakfast Pasta Carbonara recipe with smoked bacon, eggs, Parmesan and a handful of fresh parsley is an irresistible skillet pasta. It’s a comforting late night snack or lazy weekend breakfast (and it’s our favorite from the pantry dinner, too.)
spaghetti carbonara for breakfast ~ who knew?
Roman pasta carbonara is a mid-century invention that has since taken on cult status. This extraordinarily comforting pasta is made with eggs, cheese, cured pork and pepper but morphs into something far more delicious than you’d imagine from its humble ingredients. It’s one of those basic recipes that everybody needs to know.
But pasta for breakfast? Why not, it’s the most important meal of the day. And I’ve always been a real food for breakfast kind of girl. Forget boxed cereal and smoothies, I’d rather have leftover pizza. Or a big bowl of pasta.
the essentials for breakfast carbonara
- pasta ~ in this case I recommend spaghetti. The way the silky sauce clings to all those strands is a thing of beauty. Angel hair will be too mushy, and fettuccine too thick. Spaghetti is perfect.
- bacon ~ traditionally Italians use guanciale (cured pork jowl) or pancetta (cured pork belly.) Thick cut bacon is a readily available substitute. You could also use ham.
- eggs ~ room temperature eggs make the silkiest sauce. True carbonara will use a combination of egg and additional egg yolks, but for breakfast carbonara we’re going with whole eggs.
- cheese ~ an aged Italian cheese like parm, pecorino romano, grana padano, whatever you’ve got in the fridge.
- parsley ~ fresh parsley really brightens the dish.
- lots of fresh cracked pepper
- garlic ~ not traditional but you can add it if you like.
the pasta carbonara method
- Cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. In this case you want the water to be starchy, so you don’t need gallons of water to start with.
- Meanwhile cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Add some crushed garlic toward the end, if you’re using it.
- Beat eggs in a bowl and add the cheese and pepper.
- Add hot pasta to the skillet and toss rapidly while slowly adding the egg mixture, using a little reserved pasta water as necessary to create a silky sauce.
In traditional carbonara the aim is to cook the eggs into a creamy sauce, but for breakfast carbonara you can afford to let then ‘scramble’ a bit, no shame there.
you also ask…
- are the eggs in carbonara raw?
The eggs in this dish get ‘cooked’ from the heat of the water, the pasta, and the pan, even when it is off the direct heat. If you’re unsure you can put the pan back on the heat while you toss. This may slightly scramble the eggs, but the dish will still be delicious. You can also use pasteurized eggs for peace of mind. Note: don’t confuse pasteurized eggs for pasture raised eggs! Pasteurized eggs have simply been heat treated to destroy harmful bacteria, but otherwise function like normal raw eggs. Look for them next to the regular eggs in your supermarket.
- what’s the best cheese for carbonara?
Pecorino Romano, an Italian sheep’s milk cheese, is traditional, but other aged Italian cheeses are fine. I like to grate the cheese (not shred) so it will melt in quickly.
- does carbonara have cream in it?
It’s hard to believe that such a creamy pasta contains no cream. The ‘creaminess’ comes from the eggs and starchy pasta water that emulsify into a glossy sauce as they are tossed briskly with the hot pasta. No need for cream.
I adore my Lodge cast iron skillet and it’s the perfect tool for this job. The thick cast iron hold the heat well while you create that special sauce. You can serve straight from the skillet for a rustic presentation.
- 3/4 lb thin spaghetti
- 8 slices thick cut smoked bacon
- olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
- extra large handful chopped parsley
- salt and coarse ground fresh pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta in well salted water until just al dente.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until it's crisp. Add garlic if you are using, and sauté briefly. Add a little olive oil if the bacon didn't render much fat.
- In a small bowl, mix the cheese into the beaten eggs, and grind some black pepper in as well.
- When the pasta is ready, drain and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Add the hot pasta to the skillet and toss, along with the egg and cheese mixture, and parsley. Continue tossing, off the heat, adding a little of the reserved pasta water, until the eggs are cooked and the sauce is silky and thick. Add more pepper to taste. Note: you can put the pan back over medium heat while you toss if you feel you need to cook the eggs a litte more. Just be sure to keep tossing constantly.
- Serve with extra parsley and cheese as garnish.