Healthier Carbonara (No Cream!)

One of my favourite pasta dishes is carbonara. It’s so hard to find an authentic one, even in Italian restaurants they add cream to the sauce. Partly this is because that’s what customers in the UK expect, an overly saucey, creamy gloop. There are a few restaurants (ones actually run by Italian families) that I know who will prepare it without cream, but I finally decided to make it myself.

As I’m trying to be healthier at the minute I didn’t use pancetta, but I found some Italian style ham cubes in the supermarket and thought that would make a pretty good, and low-fat, substitute. I did a bit of recipe research. Some used whole eggs, some just yolks. They all used about 1 egg per person. I decided to use one whole egg and one yolk. They also used about 1oz of parmesan per person. It is traditionally served with spaghetti, but I used tagliatelle instead.

The result was delicious, and so creamy I honestly don’t know why people add extra cream! It was also super easy and really quick, I don’t know why I haven’t made it myself before.

Update: Now I’ve started the Slimming World Extra Easy I’ve modified this recipe slightly, using 14 sprays of olive oil spray instead of the ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Using your one of your calcium allowance healthy extras for the parmesan this recipe is only ½ syn per portion!


Tagliatelle – 7oz/200g

Olive oil – ½ tablespoon

Cubed ham – 2.5oz/70g

Eggs – 1 whole and 1 yolk

Parmesan – 2oz/55g (grated)

Seasoning – salt & pepper

Equipment: Frying pan, pasta pan, bowl, fork/whisk, spaghetti server


  1. Fry off the ham in the frying pan with the olive oil.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the eggs and parmesan, and season.
  4. Drain the pasta and return to the pan (off the heat), add the ham, and pour in the egg/parmesan mix.
  5. Stir really well until it starts to thicken and coats the pasta.
  6. Serve with plenty of black pepper.

153 comments on “Healthier Carbonara (No Cream!)

  1. Carbonara is by far my favourite pasta dish! You did a great job at making it mor ‘healthy’

  2. […] Healthier carbonara. Not the lowest cal pasta dish, but delicious! Calories – […]

  3. I’d love to give this a go – especially with the tagliatelle! I’ve used a similar recipe before and found it was too much egg – how many does your recipe serve?

  4. Sounds delicious! I’ll have to try this recipe. I love pasta so this should be yummy.

  5. I’m not a sauce kinda girl (though my fiance does call me “saucy,” but whatever), so this looks absolutely amazing…

    Thanks for doing the research for us! 😉

  6. I’ll be trying this some time in the week! Carbonara is my favourite dish.

  7. Wow — that recipe sounds easy! Thanks for a non-diet busting carbonara that sounds tasty!

  8. It’s a very yummy recipe, but I always end up scrambling the eggs or under-cooked them.

    • Try to make sure you pour the eggs and cheese over the pasta and that it doesn’t touch the pan. As long as you’re not pregnant or in ill-health you don’t need to worry about eggs being under-cooked.

  9. I much prefer the no cream version. Thanks for the recipe.

  10. Thanks for blogging this recipe. I always feel so guilty when I make it because it is so unhealthy. I might make your recipe tomorrow.

  11. so simple and looks so delish 🙂

  12. This looks easy to do. I wanna cook this soon. Thanks for sharing!

  13. can’t wait to try your recipe..

  14. I love carbonara. Your concoction looks delish! I’m craving for one now…

  15. i’m always up for a new recipe, and as I am trying to get healthier, I like this

  16. Congrats on freshly pressed!!
    That’s interesting that they make it with cream. I have never heard of that.
    I’ve made carbonara before, but I also used cheese and wine in my sauce, and then turkey bacon instead of pig bacon.

  17. It sounds great! I do a more Hungarian version where it’s pasta, cottage cheese and ham or bacon (turkey bacon works great too!) and coarse black pepper!

  18. Italian being my favorite cuisine and me being a pathetic cook,THANK YOU for giving such an easy recipe!!!Can’t wait to try!

  19. good composition of noodle. this delicious …

  20. This sounds delicious. I don’t eat red meat, so I’ll try it with turkey or phony bacon. Thanks for sharing.

  21. This approach really sounds great. Yes, I like cream but this recipe will be given a try!

    • Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE cream, I’ve been known to eat it like people eat yoghurt… I’m just not a fan of the overly creamy gloopy sauces that pass for carbonara in a large number of UK restaurants.

  22. Thank …Lovely post! 😦

  23. There are two equally authentic ways to cook carbonare. Some use cream, some not — even in Rome 🙂

  24. ehm… Hi.
    Carbonara is – possibly – my best dish when it come at cooking pasta.
    I might have a few suggestions, if you’re heading for the “real thing”.

    Use “guanciale”, not “pancetta”, nor “bacon”, nor ham.
    Don’t go for “cubes”, but stripes, not too much thin, say about 3 mm thick, 1 inch long, 5 mm large.
    Have them fry without any other fat, as low as you can. You might want to have the pan fry a little at the beginning, and then go slower when the fat get translucid.

    Stir eggs and cheese, but I would suggest going for “pecorino romano”, not parmigiano. The steering should lead to creating a creamy sauce, which comes better with finely grinded pecorino romano. Mind you: pecorino toscano, or from Sardegna is different. You should go for the one from Rome: extremely white in colour, it has a black surface, kind of a peel.
    As for eggs, you’re right mixing partly yolk only and whole eggs. I suggeest using one yolk per person, plus one almost whole egg. The point is: the more egg white, the more cheese to get the thing to get creamy. Add a little salt to it, to make it stay harder, and pepper.

    Ow! Pepper. Don’t be shy with pepper: do remember that we call it “carbonara” because when we still in the serving bowl before we mix and serve it is covered with black pepper on the top. 🙂

    Now, when you drain pasta, keep some of the cooking water, just in case your sauce is to thick to blend properly.

    This is a no-tomato sauce, so we have pasta fly a little before we add the sauce; which is: we pour drained (not too much drained) pasta in the pan where you had been frying the guanciale and have the pasta blend with it. I do this by having the pasta jump in the pan. It should dress with the guanciale.
    Turn fire off and add egg sauce. It should not cook! Even better: take pasta and guanciale out of the pan and into a bowl and pour the egg sauce on it. Then grinded pepper.
    Mix it and serve it. It makes a better scene with friends if you bring the bowl unmixed onto the table and do mix and serve it there 🙂

    Got this a bit longer than I had expected but, well: you gotta come to Italy to my place and taste it and you’d see it’d be worth it! 😉

  25. Good Evening: Nicely done. Have you tried adding fresh peas and a tiny pinch of crushed red chili pepper?

    • Thanks you! I’m not actually a pea fan, but it’s definitely a great idea. I added more than a tiny pinch of dried chillis to my finished dish, but the boyfriend doesn’t have as much chilli tolerance as I do, so I couldn’t add it while cooking. If I had, I would have put it in while frying the ham/pancetta. I sometimes make a pancetta, blue cheese and chilli risotto, and that’s when I add it then.

  26. I love carbonara too, omnomnom … and wow, your recipe sure sounds easy; I’ll definitely give this a try! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  27. Definitely going to try this one – yum!!

  28. Looking forward to trying it!

  29. Looks so delicious, will definitely be giving it a try 🙂

  30. I always love finding healthier versions of recipes, so thanks for this one. I can’t eat carbonara when it has all that extra cream in it! I recently changed my spaghetti sauce into a healthier option, and it tastes so much better.
    Nothing like finding tasty, healthy substitutes!

  31. Absolutely no cream!!! But the way I do it:
    use cubed bacon instead of ham (ham is for Matriciana) the best to use is Guanciale which is similar to bacon but is not made from the belly. It’s a part between the shoulder and the head.
    Cook the bacon with thin sliced onion in a little butter (no oil)
    on the side whisk 3 eggs yolks + one full egg adding pecorino cheese, freshly grounded black pepper and salt.
    Chop some parsley.
    When pasta is cooked put it in a bowl, wait few seconds for the pasta to cool a bit (otherwise the egg mix could get too hard) pour the egg mix, mix well, add the guanciale/bacon and the parsley and mix again.


  32. Well done! I’m italian and I actually never put cream in it! you don’t need it. Nice post!

  33. Reblogged this on The Freshly.

  34. Wow! Your recipe makes making it seem so easy. Yummy! I’m bookmarking this page. Thank you!

  35. Wow that looks great will deffinately have to try and make it 🙂

  36. I had been taught ages ago to make carbonara and my recipe never included cream, only eggs, pancetta and lots of pepper and parmesan cheese to finish it off. I always thought it was odd people threw so much cream into their recipes, I’m really glad to see you’re a purist (and a healthy one, at that!).

  37. […] through the night my Healthier Carbonara post got freshly pressed. Very exciting! This morning I woke up to over 100 emails about comments, […]

  38. Awesome! I’m always using natural non-fat yogurt with yolks only but I guess I will try that as well 😉 thanks for that! 😉

  39. very nice picture and explanation of your idea for this recipe.

  40. I will try this, I love Carbonara but I am quite conscious of the fat levels.

  41. It sounds easy to cook. In that case I ‘ll try. Thanks!

  42. This one needs to find its way into my kitchen soon. I’m another carbonara lover, but I agree that it’s often much too heavy–like an alfredo that just happens to have bacon in it. Although it might be tough to give my beloved pancetta the boot!

  43. Nice to make your own recipe, at least u know what is the ingredients.

  44. Does the egg in this recipe end up soft-cooked, or raw-ish?

    • When the egg and cheese mixture coats the pasta the residual heat in it and the pan should mean the eggs are cooked enough but stay soft and smooth, a bit like a savory egg custard I suppose… You don’t what bits of scrambled egg in there though. The best way to avoid that is to keep stirring the pasta, and try not to let any egg settle on the bottom of the pan.

  45. mmmm yeahh gurl! i love carbonara. although i think i would miss the pancetta!! so delicious and fat!

  46. Blows my mind!!!!!! O.O

  47. I can’t wait to try this recipe! It looks awesome!

  48. its looks delicious….. thanks for sharing…. thaxxx friend

  49. Seems quite simple! I’m a dairy lover but try to skip heavy recipes at home. I’ll have to try this one out…sounds delicious!

  50. Looks delicious! I haven’t eaten pasta in so long; yet I’ve still managed to gain a massive amount of weight …
    I’ll definitely try this out 🙂
    Business Blog

  51. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed~ 🙂

  52. I would have you cook for me any day of the week, that looks amazing! And it totally looks like it doesn’t need the extra cream and is super creamy. I think that it was a great idea too to subsitute the bacon for ham cubes and I can’t even see the difference with the plate, looks yummy!

  53. Cannot wait to try this! thank you! 🙂

  54. […] been feeling pretty rotten. Though all the lovely comments I’ve been getting about my Healthier Carbonara recipe since it was Freshly Pressed have cheered me up no […]

  55. I like your version..although I have to say eat it once every blue moon, but eat it real.

  56. I will try this Friaday your receipe but with wheat pasta. Thank You for sharing.

  57. Wow-it looks great and even possible for me (a beginning cook). Thanks for the post, and congrats on being FP! Cheers!

  58. showed this to my mom and she was like, “oh let’s try that really soon”

  59. Reblogged this on Runnymede Residents Community Web Site and commented:
    Weel it looks OK – will anyone try it and comment?

  60. I agree with you I hate it when they add cream to carbonara… it means that they have never eaten the real deal in Roma! Here is my version that is very similar to your recipe above. Well done! http://serenapalumbo.com/blog/?p=2219

  61. Looks good! You could use some “prosciutto cotto di parma” (from Parma) in the pasta as your ham. You should be able to find it at an italian deli.

  62. […] Healthier Carbonara (No Cream!) >> Share this:FacebookTwitterMoreEmailPrintDiggLinkedInStumbleUponPinterestRedditTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted by Mr Asideg Filed in Food & Drinks Leave a Comment » […]

  63. Drool!

    This is one of the dishes that I really want to cook! I have to learn how to cook this though. Hope I can cook such soon. Thanks for this! 🙂

  64. Thank for the like on my frosted ginger bars. I am going to try your carbonara recipe, it sounds perfect. Giving up a lot of fat ment I gave that recipe up too as I only had it with the addition of cream- not any more!

  65. […] just after I decided to makeover my own favourite recipes to make them lower-cal and healthier (Healthier Carbonara and Healthier Pulled Pork, etc.) and in this programme they do the same. They’ve made some […]

  66. Great post! Very similar to our carbonara! We also will add some roasted cauliflower which goes really well with the meat and eggs. Maybe not a ‘traditional’ rendition, but very tasty (and gets the kids to eat some veggies)!

  67. […] Popular – Healthier Carbonara, but probably because it was Freshly […]

  68. […] was very excited to be Freshly Pressed in August for my Healthier Carbonara (No Cream!) recipe, which I’ve now adapted so that it’s only ½ syn on Slimming World Extra […]

  69. […] and you get a bit sick of just using passata and tomato-based sauces. This sauce is derived from my Healthier Carbonara recipe, and uses only eggs and a little parmesan to make the most wonderfully creamy sauce without […]

  70. Hi Corinna, how are you finding slimming world vs low carb. Hope you’re well xx

    • I don’t think the weight-loss is as fast as low carb diets. It would probably be going better if I didn’t keep having the odd week off and actually did exercise! When I have been off it it’s because I’ve been eating out a lot and a couple of meals (and drinks) out blows your points for the week so I have just given up. But when I stick to it the weight certainly does come off, and it’s not a difficult diet to do at all because nothing is banned, you just have to come in under 105 syns (though I do better when i stick to about 70 syns, but I don’t exercise).

      I’m getting into lots of good habits in cutting down the fat in my dishes, and when I reach my target weight I’m planning on sticking to diet through the week to maintain the weight-loss.

  71. it’s Look yum and fantastic
    Thanks for great recipe 🙂

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