Protopantry Carbonara Recipe (No Cream)

Traditionally, carbonara includes classic Italian guanciale and Pecorino Romano, but it’s easy to recreate this hearty pasta with a few simple staples found in any grocery store. Many recipes include cream, but I’ve found it’s not truly necessary. This essentials-only carbonara recipe is still rich and indulgent, and small portion goes a long way served with a simple salad.

This recipe is adapted from

Did you make this recipe? Be sure to tag us on instagram @theprotopantry and use the #protopantry hashtag. Happy cooking!

Everything on is made using our 50-ingredient minimalist pantry list. We have recipes from all over the world and for most dietary needs—explore here.

Protopantry Carbonara Recipe (No Cream)

Pared-down carbonara is as quick as it is decadent.

Makes: 4 servings

Protopantry Carbonara Recipe

Prep time:

Cook time:

  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Salt for pasta water plus more to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ½ ounces bacon sliced into pieces about 1/3-1/2-inch square
  • 12 ounces pasta

  1. Place a large pot of water with a generous pinch of salt over high heat, and begin bringing the water to a rapid boil.
  2. Fill a large bowl with very hot water for serving the pasta, and set the bowl aside. The serving bowl must be warm for the sauce to come together.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and Parmesan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the egg mixture.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the bacon and cook until near-crisp, then set the stove’s heat at the lowest setting to keep the bacon warm.
  5. Once the cooking water boils and while the bacon cooks, add the pasta and cook until nearly al dente (about six or seven minutes).
  6. Reserve one cup of pasta water.
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the bacon over low heat. Stir the pasta with the bacon and bacon fat for about a minute.
  8. Pour the hot water out of the serving bowl, and pat it dry.
  9. Add the hot pasta mixture to the hot serving bowl.
  10. Add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta, followed by spoonfuls of reserved pasta water. Stir until a creamy sauce forms. It is unlikely that you will need all of the pasta water—add gradually.
  11. Serve immediately, adding additional Parmesan and pepper to taste.

Notes and Nutrition Information

  • Eat carbonara immediately—this is one of those “fresh only” dishes to enjoy in the moment.

  • Read the recipe carefully before you start—you will need to move quickly to keep everything hot.

  • One fourth of the recipe as written contains approximately 490 calories, 23 grams of fat, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of protein, 0 grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of sugar, and 400 milligrams of sodium.