When life calls for a big bowl of carby comfort, I’ve got you covered. And then some!
This recipe is a mash up of two of my all-time favorite indulgent Italian pasta dishes: carbonara and cacio e pepe.
Mouth watering yet?
If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life without having to worry about the calories/fat/general unhealthiness of over-the-top indulgence, I would probably pick one of those two pastas. They are up there as two of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. Cheesy, creamy, super flavorful pasta. Does life get any better?
I’ve shared a version of carbonara before and it went VIRAL. It still is one of the most popular recipes on my blog, so I guess we’re on the same page when it comes to rich, creamy pastas, huh?
One of the most amazing things about both carbonara and cacio e pepe is how EASY they come together. No, really. They are incredibly simple to make, and as long as you are working with good-quality ingredients (think: decent pecorino or parmesan cheeses), the simplicity of the recipes will still deliver an outstanding, mouthwatering dish of comfort.
This mash up recipe starts out like any carbonara would: with bacon.
We crisp up some bacon in a large skillet while we cook our pasta. I like to use a long noodle for these dishes because I love how creamy sauces coat long strands of pasta. I used bucatini here, but linguine, spaghetti, or fettuccine would all be fab here as well.
When the pasta is done, we add it to the bacon drippings in the large skillet and then whisk in a mixture of eggs, cream, cheese, and lotsss of cracked black pepper. For cacio e pepe, we MUST have lots of freshly cracked black pepper. It’s where so much of the signature flavor comes from!
As for the cheeses, we’re using a combination of pecorino and parmesan in this recipe. The pecorino is for the cacio e pepe aspect of this recipe. Pecorino Romano is one of the hallmark cheeses of Rome, and cacio e pepe is one of the signature dishes there. We ate our way through Rome a few years ago, and we ate cacio e pepe at every meal. It was so much fun to eat and compare them all! I like to add parmesan here as well because I think it adds such wonderful flavor everything. We never eat pasta without it.
The next part of making this dish is the most complicated part, and it really isn’t all that hard. Over very low heat, we toss the cooked pasta with the cream and egg mixture and a little bit of the pasta cooking water (the magical elixir for great pasta dishes!). It will be runny and odd looking at first, but I promise you, the more you stir and toss everything together, the creamier and thicker the sauce gets. It takes a few minutes, but the result is pure magic!
Velvety, creamy, and luscious! And PACKED with so much cacio e pepe flavor!
I like to serve this garnished with my favorite thing of all time: a poached egg. Hello, blog name coming in full effect!
The poached egg is totally optional, but I urge you to try it. We’ve come this far already, right? Just do the egg. Just go all in, guys.
Along with the egg, I like to grate some fresh lemon zest over top (it brightens up all the heavier flavors), sprinkle on some fresh herbs (parsley or basil both work), and add all the crispy bacon bits.
All that’s left to do is cozy up under a blanket and go. to. town.
This is indulgence at its finest, and I won’t apologize for it. Because sometimes life really does call for big bowls of carby comfort. And I am here for it.
Cacio e Pepe Carbonara
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
This Cacio e Pepe Carbonara is a mash up of two Italian classics and the flavor does not disappoint. Creamy, rich, carbonara-style sauce is flavored with pecorino romano and lots of black pepper to create the cacio e pepe experience! This recipe comes together quickly and easily and tastes like heaven on earth.
- 1 lb bucatini pasta (any long noodle will work)
- 4 strips bacon, diced
- 2 whole eggs
- ½ cup half-and-half
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest (plus more for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- Fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil, for garnish
- Fried or poached eggs, for serving (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season liberally with salt and add in the pasta. Cook until el dente, according to the package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water (see NOTE below).
- Meanwhile, crisp the bacon in a large skillet. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Reserve the drippings in the skillet.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, heavy cream, cheeses, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- When the pasta is done, place the skillet used for the bacon over very low heat. Add the pasta to the bacon drippings and then pour in the egg-cream mixture.
- At this point, I will poach or fry eggs for serving (totally optional but this gives the dish a wow factor).
- Cook the pasta over very, very low heat in the large skillet, tossing it constantly, and adding a little bit of pasta water here and there as you stir. It will be liquidy at first! This is normal. The sauce will take a few minutes to cook and thicken enough to coat the noodles. It is ready when it is creamy and glossy and easily coating the noodles. Season, to taste, with more salt and pepper.
- Serve the pasta while hot and garnished with poached or fried eggs, the reserved bacon, additional cheese, fresh herbs, another grating of lemon zest, and extra black pepper cracked over top.
If serving this dish with poached eggs, I actually do not drain the pasta cooking water. I will return it to a simmer and use it to poach the eggs right before serving. Two birds, one stone!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: pasta
Keywords: cacio e pepe carbonara pasta, pasta carbonara, cacio e pepe pasta sauce, rich and indulgent pasta dishes
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