Recipe Review

I Tried The Pasta Queen’s Spaghetti Carbonara and It Was Absolutely Divine

published Apr 6, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

I have made a whole lot of The Pasta Queen’s recipes (from her Snappy Harlot to her Devil’s Kiss), and they have never led me astray, so I had high expectations when it came time to give her pasta carbonara a spin in our Celebrity Recipe Showdown. When selecting competitors for the showdown, I knew there had to be some representation from someone who knew traditional Italian cooking inside and out, and I can’t think of a better person than Nadia, my go-to pasta expert on TikTok. Here’s how it all went.

Get the recipe: The Pasta Queen’s Spaghetti Carbonara

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Felipe Cortes

How to Make The Pasta Queen’s Spaghetti Carbonara

At its core, carbonara is a simple dish with only a few ingredients. Nadia’s carbonara is as traditional as it gets. She calls for guanciale and pecorino Romano cheese, which are commonly swapped for bacon or pancetta and Parmesan cheese in less traditional versions of the dish. To start, cook your pasta (spaghetti or rigatoni) until al dente, reserve some pasta water, and drain.

Meanwhile, cook the diced guanciale in a large skillet until the fat renders and the meat is golden-brown and crispy. In a bowl, whisk eggs, grated cheese, and black pepper. Over low heat, toss the pasta with the guanciale to combine. Next, remove the pan from heat and mix in the egg and cheese mixture, working swiftly to prevent the eggs from scrambling and gradually drizzling in pasta water as needed. Season to taste with more pepper or cheese, then twirl into bowls and serve immediately. For an authentic Pasta Queen experience, exclaim “Just gorgeous!” as you put the bowls of pasta on the table.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of The Pasta Queen’s Spaghetti Carbonara

This was divine. Even though carbonara requires only a few ingredients and is relatively quick to make, I will admit that it does require a bit of practice and finesse to really get it right. This method was completely successful. My final sauce was so rich and creamy that it tasted like there was butter or cream in it (but true to Italian tradition, these ingredients were completely absent).

Even though she offers pancetta as a substitute, I really wanted to try guanciale to see if it made a difference. This did require a trip to my local Italian deli (shout out to Bay Cities) and it was admittedly more expensive than pancetta. I will say that it rendered more fat than any cut of meat that I have ever cooked, which definitely contributed to the rich, salty sauce. It also had an unmistakable porky flavor that was saltier and fattier than pancetta. Was it life-changing? I don’t think so, and if you want to sub pancetta, I don’t think the quality of your carbonara will suffer (but maybe don’t tell Nadia I said that).

I was also excited to try this one out because it was the only recipe of four contenders that called exclusively for pecorino Romano. The difference was subtle. To me, pecorino Romano is slightly saltier and tangier than Parm, and I felt the results yielded just that. I didn’t find it overwhelmingly better than Parm, just different. 

There was some slight confusion with the recipe because her ingredients call for eggs, but the method calls for egg yolks. I referenced this video of hers, where she says that she uses 1 egg yolk per serving, plus 1 additional whole egg. So, I took this to mean that for 1 pound of pasta, she uses 4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg. In that same video, she also mentions that she likes to temper the egg mixture with a little bit of the rendered pork fat, so I did that as well, which eased my fears about potentially scrambling the eggs.

I do not have a drop of Italian blood in me, but after I made this, I started to wonder if maybe I do have a couple ancestors in Florence or Rome because this was delicious.

If You’re Making The Pasta Queen’s Spaghetti Carbonara, a Few Tips

  1. Use 1 whole egg and 4 yolks per 1 pound of pasta.
  2. Temper the egg mixture with a little of the rendered pork fat, per her suggestion.
  3. Try it with guanciale, but if you can’t find it pancetta is a solid substitute.

Rating: 9/10