Jamie Oliver's 'authentic' spaghetti carbonara recipe with 'controversial' ingredient

Flat lay of spaghetti carbonara on marble surface
This spaghetti carbonara only has five ingredients -Credit:Getty/Cris Cantón

Jamie Oliver has shared his go-to recipe for spaghetti carbonara - and it contains one 'controversial' ingredient

The classic Italian pasta dish is loved by many across the world. But calling it "controversial" thanks to the garlic (which is always optional) the chef says he is sharing what he thinks is the "most authentic".

There are two important ingredients when it comes to making this dish - the guanciale and the cheese. Talking about the meat, Jamie says: "This is the cured cheek of pork and as you can see it's all about the fat. It's salted, it's got pepper, it's dried and it's aged."

Whilst some people may not be able to buy guanciale, the chef says you can buy pancetta or lean smoked bacon. But you need to get a specific type with Jamie adding: "It's [guanciale] similar to smoked bacon and you can get some pretty good results."

Holding up the bacon to the camera he continued: "But you can see this is quite lean to try and get them to not cut off the fat. because you need it".

When it comes to the cheese, most people use parmesan but the 48-year-old says: "The more classic is the pecorino romano cheese" made from sheep which is salty and crumbly - perfect for this dish.

In addition to this, the technique is also important with the chef using the pasta water which acts as an emulsifier to create the creaminess of the pasta dish. This recipe serves two people and you only need five ingredients. Here's everything you need to make it.

Jamie Oliver's 'authentic' spaghetti carbonara


  • Guanciale, 80g - cured pork cheek (you can also use lean smoked bacon or pancetta)

  • Pecorino cheese, 20g (you can also use parmesan)

  • One egg

  • Spaghetti - handful, enough for two people

  • Black pepper - 1tsp

  • One garlic clove - optional


  1. Grab a handful of pasta and cook it in a pot as per the instructions

  2. Add a pinch of salt to the pot

  3. Cut the guanciale into 1cm slices and roughly chop to 1/2cm chunks

  4. Get a separate pan and turn on to a medium-high heat

  5. Chuck the guanciale into the pan

  6. If using garlic, crush the garlic with a knife (skin on) and put it in the pan

  7. Next add the black pepper to the pan and cook until the meat is golden

  8. In a small bowl, crack the egg and add the pecorino and whisk

  9. Remove the garlic

  10. Turn the heat off the pan with the meat and add pasta to pan

  11. When you don't hear any more sizzling, add the egg and toss the pasta, add more pasta water (see tip below) until you have a creamy carbonara


  • Grab a handful of pasta in your hands and twist, then drop into the pot - this will help prevent the pasta from sticking together.

  • Don't add too much salt to the pasta as the cheese and guanciale is salty anyway

  • Use the pasta water to stop the frying - it will also act as an emulsiphier to create the creaminess of the pasta dish

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