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Pasta Carbonara For One

A rich and indulgent single serving pasta carbonara recipe that's made with just a few ingredients! Ready in minutes, this simple pasta dish is loaded with bacon and Parmesan cheese.

A bowl of pasta carbonara topped with parmesan cheese and parsley on a metal tray.

There are few dishes that are easier to make than pasta carbonara. It's a popular meal found on many Italian restaurant menus. Although the ingredient list is simple, the flavors are anything but. This easy pasta carbonara recipe calls for humble ingredients like bacon, spaghetti, and an egg and takes just minutes to make.

What Is Pasta Carbonara?

Also called spaghetti alla carbonara, this traditional Italian dish consists of cooked bacon, eggs, and parmesan mixed into hot cooked spaghetti. The hot pasta partially cooks the eggs and creates a silky carbonara sauce.

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Authentic pasta carbonara calls for using guanciale, which is an Italian cured meat that comes from the jowl of a pig. It's not very easy to find in the United States. Instead, you will often see pasta carbonara recipes which call for using either pancetta or bacon.

For this simple pasta carbonara recipe for one, we use bacon.

Ingredients In Spaghetti alla Carbonara

See recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  • spaghetti
  • bacon
  • garlic
  • egg
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
An overhead view of a bowl of pasta carbonara topped with chopped parsley and parmesan cheese next to a white cloth napkin, a fork, and measuring spoon of grated parmesan cheese all on a metal tray

How To Make Pasta Carbonara

See below for full instructions.

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking. It is very important that the spaghetti is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the egg in the sauce:

  1. Cook the pasta. Drain all but 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon and sauté the garlic. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Add pasta to the pan and toss.
  4. Mix egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a small bowl and add to pasta; whisk quickly until eggs thicken but do not scramble. Thin the sauce with a little of the reserved pasta water, if necessary.
  5. Crumble the cooked bacon and add to the pasta. Toss to distribute, transfer pasta to a bowl and enjoy.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients left over from this pasta carbonara recipe, you might like to use them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

What Kind Of Pasta Should I Use?

Any kind of pasta can be used to make pasta carbonara. Spaghetti is most commonly used.

This pasta carbonara recipe serves one person and calls for using 2-ounces of dry spaghetti, which approximately equals the diameter of a quarter.

Pasta carbonara twirled around a fork from a bowl on a metal tray

Carbonara Variations

This classic pasta carbonara is easy to customize to suit your tastes.

  • Use diced ham, prosciutto or pancetta instead of bacon.
  • Add 1/4 cup of peas to the pan while you are tossing the pasta.
  • Add a handful of fresh spinach to wilt along with the garlic.
  • Make chicken carbonara by adding cooked and sliced chicken to the pasta and toss with the sauce.

Tips For Making The Best Pasta Carbonara

  • Have all of your ingredients ready when you begin to cook. This dish cooks quickly.
  • Take the pan off the heat when you add in the egg mixture. The gentle heat from the already warm pan is what sets the eggs to create the velvety sauce.
  • You want to add hot noodles to the pan. The heat from the pasta and from the pan cooks the sauce.
  • Keep the pasta moving, use tongs or a spoon to continuously mix the pasta with the eggs.
  • You will likely not use all of the saved pasta water to thin the sauce. Just add a little at a time until you reach the consistency you like.

I use a 10-inch skillet when making pasta carbonara. For information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

pasta carbonara in a bowl.

Pasta Carbonara Recipe For One

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: bacon, eggs, pasta
Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 406kcal
Author: Joanie Zisk

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 1 piece thick bacon (or use 2 thin slices of bacon)
  • 1 clove garlic , sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional for garnish)

Instructions

  • Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender yet firm. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water to use in the sauce, if necessary.
  • Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the pasta to the pan and toss for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
  • Add egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble. Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.
    (Note: if the heat from the pan and from the cooked pasta does not quite set the eggs, you can heat the pan again over a low heat and toss the pasta until cooked. You must constantly toss or stir the pasta so that the eggs don’t scramble.)
  • Crumble the cooked bacon and add it to the pasta. Toss to distribute. Taste and add additional salt, if necessary. Transfer pasta to a bowl and top with additional Parmesan. Enjoy hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 191mg | Sodium: 370mg | Potassium: 126mg | Sugar: 2g

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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About The Author

3 thoughts on “Pasta Carbonara For One”

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was perfect. It made just one portion and was simply easy to do. I used pancetta instead of bacon. Thanks for this great recipe

  2. I don’t understand if take the pasta off the stove, then when do I pour the egg mixture? Looking for details in making this wonderful-looking meal.

    1. Hi Deb,
      The egg mixture is poured into the cooked pasta that has been reheated in the skillet (step 4). You don’t want to have the pan on any heat when you pour in the egg because it will cook quickly and possibly scramble.

      You’ll need to first cook the pasta in a separate pot; drain the water (except for 1/2 cup) and set it aside. Cook the bacon and garlic in a skillet, remove the bacon and add the cooked pasta to the skillet to reheat and to mix with the bacon fat and garlic. Remove the pan from the heat and then add in the egg mixture and whisk until the eggs thicken.

      Hope this helps.
      Joanie

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