Carbonara, it’s one of Italy’s most famous and delicious dishes. Carbonara features guanciale (pork jowl) or pancetta, spaghetti, grated Pecorino (an italian cheese) and ground black pepper. Unfortunately, your average grocery store away from major cities doesn’t always feature these products or have them at decent prices when they do. So I had to sub a few items and came up with this Easy Spaghetti Carbonara.
That’s where I come in. After many testing and trials I have finally figured out a decent cheap and easy spaghetti carbonara that doesn’t use hard to find or special ingredients. All the ingredients for this recipe are likely already in your fridge or freezer.
Disclaimer: This is Not True Carbonara
I do need to give you a quick disclaimer though, this is not a true carbonara. So if you are looking for an authentic recipe, this is not it. This is simply the best I could do on a low budget when I lived in an area that didn’t always carry the products you need to make traditional carbonara.
The recipe below is as close to carbonara as I can get without breaking the budget or using difficult to find ingredients. Most of these ingredients you will probably already have in your home.
Bacon is a good fatty cut of pork and since it’s already been smoked and cured it’s as close to guanciale or pancetta as you can get while still being able to find it. Depending on the cut you get can improve the recipe as well.
I’ve used everything from cheap thin sliced bacon you get on sale to the thick cut quality smoked bacon. The better quality bacon is going to taste better in your carbonara but if you are on a budget, the cheap stuff works just fine too.
Cheap and Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
Below is the recipe for my cheap and easy spaghetti carbonara. Like I stated before this is not traditional carbonara but it will absolutely feed your family. As with any pasta, be generous with the salt in your pasta water. It makes it all better.
- 1 box Spaghetti
- Reserved ¾ cup pasta water
- 6 strips of bacon diced
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Oregano
- ¼ tsp Red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan like this one and add bacon to start cooking. Heat well salted water in a spaghetti pot and start cooking your spaghetti of choice.
- In a medium bowl crack 4 eggs and whisk quickly till bubbly, about 5 minutes. You can do this in a bowl with your stand mixer on a medium to high speed, about 2 minutes. Fold in 1 cup of parmesan cheese and put to the side.
- When the bacon is mostly cooked add red pepper flakes, garlic, and oregano and cook till the garlic is fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add the ¾ cup of pasta water carefully and slowly and cook down till about half. Turn heat down to medium low.
- Drain the pasta once it’s cooked to your liking. Add the hot pasta to the frying pan and remove from the heat to mix with the oil and bacon.
- Slowly pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and mix with tongs or a pasta ladle. Mix quickly to make it creamy. The heat from the pan, the bacon, and the pasta will cook the egg enough for it to be the creamy sauce we all love in carbonara.
- Serve with parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.
Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
It may not be traditional carbonara but it’s still a delicious meal that is cheap and easy to make. You can serve it on the side with a flavorful chicken recipe, or you can eat it as a meal on it’s own. In our house this meal is considered comfort food for cold days when you just want to be cozy and eat something while watching your favorite TV show.
While professional chefs will look at this and most likely be insulted by the use of bacon instead of pork jowl or pancetta this isn’t for them. They can afford to feed their family those cuts of meat. For us everyday folks that are working with a tight budget, bacon works just fine.
Sometimes it’s less about authenticity and more about just enjoying a good tasting and affordable meal. This fits that bill so master chefs need not apply. I just don’t recommend sharing this with your Italian friends, it might likely be an insult to them.
My Instant Pot Meat Spaghetti is another great option for an quick and easy meal. It doesn’t require as much attention as this recipe does because it’s mostly all done in an Instant Pot. So it’s a great option for those looking for more easy pasta recipes.
Have you used bacon as a sub in your own easy spaghetti carbonara? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite dinner recipe boards.