Nigella’s Spaghetti Carbonara

by Nigella. Featured in HOW TO EAT

Photo by Jonathan Lovekin


This is my favourite – along with all my other favourites. I love the buttery, eggy creaminess of the sauce, saltily-spiked with hot-cubed bacon: it’s comforting, but not in a sofa-bound kind of way. It feels like proper dinner, only it takes hardly any time to cook. This is my most regular dinner for two: I keep, at all times, the wherewithal to make it in the house.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.


Serves: 1-2 Metric Cups

  • 200 grams spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 100 grams guanciale or pancetta in one piece
  • 4 x 15ml tablespoons dry white vermouth or wine
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • a grind of black pepper
  • a grating of fresh nutmeg
  • approx. 20 grams unsalted butter


  1. Put water on for the pasta and when it’s boiling add a decent amount of salt and then, when it’s boiling again, the spaghetti. Italians say the water pasta cooks in should be as salty as the Mediterranean.
  2. Cut the rind off the pancetta (or guanciale if you’ve been able to get it) and put the rind in the pan with the oil on medium to high while you dice the rest of the pancetta. Then add it and fry for about 5 minutes, maybe more, until it is beginning to crisp. Remove the rind (I like to eat it, but you may not feel the same way.) Throw in the vermouth and let it bubble away for about 3 minutes until you have about 2 teaspoons or so of syrupy wine-infused bacon fat. Remove from the heat.
  3. For the egg mixture, simply beat the yolk, the whole egg, the cheese, the pepper and the nutmeg (the pancetta and the cheese should provide enough salt) together with a fork. When the pasta’s ready, quickly put the bacon pan back on the heat, adding the butter as you do so. Remove a cupful of pasta-cooking water and then drain the spaghetti and tip it into the pancetta pan. Mix it well together, then turn off the heat (take the pan away from the hob if your stove’s electric).
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the bacony pasta and quickly and thoroughly turn the pasta so that it’s all covered in the sauce. Whatever you do, don’t turn the heat back on or you’ll have scrambled eggs; in time, the hot pasta along with the residual heat of the pan will set the eggs to form a thickly creamy sauce that binds and clings lightly to each strand of pasta. Add a tablespoon or so, going gently, of the pasta cooking water as you toss it all together. This will help make the sauce creamier.

This makes two platefuls: it’s up to you whether you conclude this is enough for one or two of you.

Nigella’s mince pies


Making mince pies is truely enjoyable. I used to think that making your own mince pies was a ridiculous notion. Believe me, it isn’t.



  • 240g/8oz plain flour
  • 60g/2oz vegetable shortening
  • 60g/2oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • pinch salt
  • 350g/12oz Christmas mincemeat
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  • You will need a miniature tart tray, each indent 4.5cm/1¾in diameter, a 5.5cm/2¼in round fluted biscuit cutter and a 4cm/1½in star-shaped pastry cutter.


  1. Sift the flour into a shallow freezer-proof bowl, then add small mounds of vegetable shortening.

  2. Add the butter, shake to cover it, then place into the freezer to chill for 20 minutes. (This will make the pastry tender and flaky.)

  3. Mix the orange juice and salt in a separate bowl. Cover and leave in the fridge to chill.

  4. After the 20 minutes, empty the chilled flour and shortening mixture into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to make porridge-like crumbs.

  5. Gradually add the chilled salted orange juice, pulsing until the mixture is just coming together as a dough. Stop just before it comes together (even if some orange juice is left). If all the juice is used up before the dough has begun to come together, add some iced water.

  6. Turn the mixture out onto a clean, floured work surface and, using your hands, knead the mixture to form a dough.

  7. Divide and shape into three equal-sized discs (you’ll need to make the mince pies in three separate batches of 12, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once).

  8. Wrap each disc in cling film and place into the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

  9. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

  10. Remove a pastry disc from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface thinly, but so that it will be sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat filling.

  11. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut out 12 circles a little wider than the moulds in the tart tins. Press the circles gently into the moulds.

  12. Place a teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry case.

  13. Reroll any remaining dough to a similar thickness, then using a star-shaped cutter, cut out 12 stars and place each lightly onto the mincemeat filling.

  14. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown. Keep an eye on them as they don’t take very long to cook.

  15. Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and placing onto a wire rack to cool. Allow the empty tray to cool down before repeating the steps from step 10. Repeat until you have made 36 mince pies.

  16. Dust the mince pies with icing sugar and serve.