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Craving a creamy, savory pasta dish that’s quick to whip up? Look no further than this single serve Pasta Carbonara recipe. Made with simple ingredients like pasta, bacon, an egg, and cheese, this dish is a comforting classic you can enjoy any time.

Seeking tasty single serve pasta recipes? Try our refreshing Caprese Pasta, earthy Mushroom Pasta, zesty Shrimp Scampi, and tangy Pasta al Limone. Each recipe is perfectly portioned for one, combining simplicity with delicious flavors.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Simple Ingredients: This recipe uses everyday items you likely already have in your pantry.
  • Quick to Make: Ready in just 20 minutes, it’s perfect for busy weeknights.
  • Creamy and Comforting: The egg and cheese sauce creates a creamy, dreamy texture.
  • Easily Doubled: Need to serve more than one? This recipe scales up effortlessly.
Pasta carbonara twirled around a fork from a bowl.

What Is Pasta Carbonara?

Pasta Carbonara, sometimes called Spaghetti Carbonara, is a traditional Italian dish that combines pasta with a creamy sauce made from eggs, cheese, and pork. It’s a simple yet luxurious dish that’s perfect for a quick dinner or a special occasion.

Originating in Rome, Pasta Carbonara is a dish steeped in tradition. While its exact origins are debated, it’s a staple in Italian cuisine, known for its simple ingredients that come together to create a rich and satisfying dish.

Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

  • Pasta: Traditionally spaghetti is used, but you can substitute with fettuccine or linguine. If you have leftover pasta, consider using it in Chicken Tetrazzini or Spaghetti and Meatballs.
  • Bacon: Authentic recipes call for guanciale, but bacon is a more accessible option. Extra bacon can be used in Crack Chicken, German Potato Salad, or a Cobb Salad.
  • Garlic: One clove of garlic adds a tremendous amount of flavor to the dish.
  • Egg, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper: These ingredients are whisked together and poured into the cooked pasta. Be sure to whisk continuously until the eggs thicken while heated in the pan.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

Recipe Variations

If you’re a fan of the classic Pasta Carbonara, you might be interested in tweaking it a bit for a new culinary adventure. Here are some variations that stay true to the essence of the dish while offering a unique twist:

  • Carbonara with Spring Peas: Add a handful of fresh or frozen peas to the pasta for a pop of color and sweetness.
  • Shrimp Carbonara: Swap out the bacon for some sautéed shrimp for a seafood take on this classic.
  • Spicy Carbonara: Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce for those who like it hot.
  • Mushroom Carbonara: Incorporate sautéed mushrooms for an earthy flavor that pairs wonderfully with the sauce.

These variations not only add a different dimension to the traditional Pasta Carbonara but also allow you to adapt the dish to various dietary needs and preferences.

How To Make Pasta Carbonara For One

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

  1. In a small bowl, combine the egg, grated Parmesan, salt, and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients together and set aside for later use.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove it from the skillet, drain on a paper towel-lined plate, and set aside.
  3. Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the pasta reaches an al dente texture. Drain the pasta, saving ½ cup of the pasta water for later.
  4. Place the skillet back on the stove over medium heat. If there are any bacon drippings left, keep them in the pan. Add sliced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Introduce the hot pasta to the skillet and toss for another 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from heat.
  5. Add a small amount of the reserved pasta water to the skillet, stirring constantly to lower the pan’s temperature. Once the sizzling stops, gradually whisk in the egg and cheese mixture, ensuring the eggs thicken without scrambling.

Note: The residual heat from the pasta and skillet will help thicken the eggs, creating a velvety texture.

If needed, use some of the reserved pasta water to adjust the dish’s consistency. You may not need to use all the saved pasta water.

  1. Crumble the cooked meat into the pasta and toss to distribute evenly. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if necessary. Transfer the pasta to a bowl, garnish with extra Parmesan and chopped parsley, and serve hot.

Expert Tips

  1. Prep all ingredients in advance, as this dish comes together quickly. Having everything ready ensures a smooth cooking process.
  2. Remove the skillet from the heat before incorporating the egg mixture. The residual warmth from the skillet is crucial for achieving the dish’s signature velvety texture.
  3. Make sure to add freshly cooked, hot noodles to the skillet. The combined heat from the pasta and skillet is essential for cooking the egg mixture properly.
  4. Keep the pasta in motion. Whether you’re using tongs or a spoon, continuous stirring is key to evenly mixing the pasta and eggs.
  5. You may not need all the reserved pasta water to adjust the dish’s consistency. Add it incrementally until you achieve your desired texture.

Serving Suggestions

Pasta Carbonara is a dish that shines on its own but can be elevated even further with the right accompaniments. Whether you’re looking for something light to balance out the richness or just want to go all out, here are some curated serving suggestions:

  • Crusty French Bread: A slice of crusty bread makes for a delightful textural contrast.
  • Fresh Chopped Salad: Opt for a salad with a tangy vinaigrette to cut through the creaminess of the carbonara.
  • Sautéed Green Beans: Green beans sautéed in butter and garlic adds both color and nutrition to your meal.
  • White Wine: A glass of chilled Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc can be a refreshing palate cleanser.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of pasta is best for carbonara?

While spaghetti is the traditional choice for carbonara, you can use any pasta variety you like.
For this single serving pasta carbonara recipe, you’ll need 2 ounces of dry spaghetti. To gauge this amount, aim for a bundle of uncooked spaghetti roughly the same diameter as a U.S. quarter coin.

Is this pasta carbonara recipe easy to double?

Absolutely, you can effortlessly double the ingredients to serve more people. Just make sure to use a larger skillet and pot to accommodate the extra pasta and sauce components.

What size skillet should I use?

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.

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.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

If you’ve tried this Pasta Carbonara or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

If you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see it!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Pasta Carbonara For One

4.92 from 23 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Indulge in a sumptuous single-serving of Pasta Carbonara, ready in minutes with a handful of ingredients. It's perfect for a quick elegant Italian meal whenever you wish.

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese , plus more for topping
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 piece thick bacon (or use 2 thin slices of bacon)
  • 2 ounces dry spaghetti (2-ounces of dry spaghetti is roughly the same diameter as a U.S. quarter coin.
  • 1 clove garlic , sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional for garnish)

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper and set it aside to use later.
  • Next, cook the bacon in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate and set it aside.
  • Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water. Let the pasta cook for 8 – 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente – tender, yet firm. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water to use in the sauce.
  • Return the skillet to the stove and heat for 30 seconds on medium heat, you should still have a little of the bacon drippings in the pan. Add the sliced garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the hot pasta to the pan and toss for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add a little of the pasta water to the pan, stirring constantly to cool the pan off. When the pan stops sizzling, slowly add the egg and cheese mixture into the pasta a little at a time, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble.
    Note: The hot pasta and the gentle heat from the already warm pan is what sets the eggs to create the velvety sauce.
  • Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. You will likely not use all of the saved pasta water to thin the sauce.
    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 low heat and toss the pasta until cooked.
  • 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 and chopped parsley. Enjoy hot.

Video

Notes

Expert Tips
  1. Prep all ingredients in advance, as this dish comes together quickly. Having everything ready ensures a smooth cooking process.
  2. Remove the skillet from the heat before incorporating the egg mixture. The residual warmth from the skillet is crucial for achieving the dish’s signature velvety texture.
  3. Make sure to add freshly cooked, hot noodles to the skillet. The combined heat from the pasta and skillet is essential for cooking the egg mixture properly.
  4. Keep the pasta in motion. Whether you’re using tongs or a spoon, continuous stirring is key to evenly mixing the pasta and eggs.
  5. You may not need all the reserved pasta water to adjust the dish’s consistency. Add it incrementally until you achieve your desired texture.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, 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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22 Comments

  1. Lol bacon, garlic, Parmesan???

    Guanciale or panchetta if you can’t get Guanciale should be used, not bacon!

    Garlic doesn’t go in authentic carbonara!

    Pecorino Romano is the right cheese or a mix of pecorino romano and parmigiana reggiano…

    1. Yes, in a traditional pasta carbonara guanciale or pancetta is used (as noted in the Ingredient Notes section). If those are not available, I recommend using bacon – nothing wrong here. For this simple pasta carbonara recipe for one, we use bacon. Bacon is a fantastic substitute! As for garlic, I add garlic to just about everything but definitely can be left out if you’re not a fan.

  2. This was delicious! I doubled the recipe and used some Italian dried salami that I had left over and it was amazing!

  3. Thanks for this recipe. This is one of my favorite pasta dinners and there is only me to cook for. Made it tonight with bacon – next time will use pancetta. But that is what I had on hand and it was fantastic. Thanks again for posting.

  4. Bought your “Cooking for One” book; read your website. Thanks for helping one of the most overlooked groups: The single person unskilled in downsizing recipes that feed a family of six.

  5. I’ve asked this question to many friends of mine from Rome, and they all agree that only yolks should be used. Then I managed to find out the scientific reason behind this.

    The real challenge with this recipe, which makes the difference between a perfectly made creamy carbonara and just pasta with omelette, lies in temperature control.

    As a matter of fact, the problem of keeping the sauce from getting curdled arises when you mix pasta just taken out from water boiling at 100 °C with egg components that coagulate at a much lower temperature. In particular, as anyone having fried an egg knows, egg white coagulates earlier than yolk (protein coagulation temperatures are approx. 60-62 °C for the former, 68-70 °C for the latter).

    This means that egg whites are more susceptible to ruin your carbonara, if you can’t manage to rapidly decrease the overall temperature below 60 °C. Since egg whites function is just to provide a more fluid substratum (creaminess and flavour come mostly from yolks), they are usually left out and replaced with starchy pasta water.

    So, put yolks only (one per person) in a large bowl and whip them, add pasta al dente without straining it first, using a large fork or kitchen tongs to take it straight from the pot, and then quickly mix them together while adding the remaining ingredients.

    In this way, cooking water adhering on the pasta surface will provide both the liquid base for the sauce and enough heat to thicken it, while the mixing will disperse the heat in excess.

  6. 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

  7. 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