This quick and easy miso carbonara is the ULTIMATE simple pasta dish. It takes just 15 minutes and is carbonara the Italian way – no cream in sight! A handful of basic ingredients come together to make the most luscious, glossy sauce and adding miso paste brings an unreal savoury depth you’re going to love.
How have I only recently discovered the delights of carbonara!? There’s something so magical about turning a few simple ingredients into the most dreamy, creamy pasta dish. It’s my idea of savoury heaven and I can’t believe how easy it is to make.
This recipe is carbonara the traditional way (albeit, with a cheeky little twist!) If you’re wondering why I’m messing with a classic and adding miso paste – I seriously believe it enhances the savoury depth of the pasta and I really urge you to give it a chance.
It’s incredible to watch the magic happen in the pan as the eggs, pecorino, miso and rendered guanciale fat combine to make a gorgeously luscious, glossy and rich sauce. It CERTAINLY needs no cream, and once you realise how straightforward it really is, you’ll want to make it over and over again.
I was always a little scared of making carbonara, mainly because of the potential egg scrambling in the pan factor. But, I’ve found a couple of simple tricks really do make this easy and foolproof. Give it a try and thank me later!
I am going classic with this one (aside from the miso!) so that means guanciale and pecorino are on the list. Of course, you don’t have to use these if you can’t find them and I’ll outline some alternatives below.
- Pecorino romano. This is the classic, sharp, salty cheese used in carbonara, but you can use parmesan or grada Padano if you prefer.
- Guanciale. This is a gorgeously fatty piece of meat, which is what you want in a classic carbonara. The fat is rendered out at the beginning of cooking, which then becomes a vital component of the silky smooth sauce. It can be a tricky ingredient to find (you’ll find it at speciality grocery stores, Italian delis, or a butcher). You can use bacon, pancetta or ham in its place, but you’ll need to add some oil to your pan when you start cooking if the meat is relatively lean.
- Eggs. Always free range, and ideally at room temperature for this recipe.
- Miso paste. This is the twist. It might seem weird, but it really enhances the savouriness of the carbonara – with pecorino, guanciale AND miso it’s basically a complete flavour explosion that I think you’re going to love.
The key thing about this recipe is to have everything prepped and ready to go before you begin because once you start, things need to come together quickly, so you’ll be working fast.
Timing will also depend on the pasta you’re using. I’m using fresh fettuccine here which takes about 2 minutes to cook, but dried pasta will take longer (about 8/10 minutes – check the packet) so just keep that in mind when you’re cooking.
How to make it
Start by getting everything prepped. Chop your guanciale or alternative into small cubes. Get your cheese grated and into a small bowl. Add your miso and a lot of freshly ground black pepper, then the eggs.
Beat the mix into a thick paste – I like using a fork to do this and push down on the miso so it mixes through properly. Then get your guanciale or alternative in a small, cold pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring until it crisps up and you’ve got lots of the lovely fat collecting in the pan. At this point, turn the heat off and pop a lid on the pan if you have one (or just use a plate). Then get a big pot of salted water over high heat, and when boiling, add your pasta and cook until al dente (this means the pasta will still have a little bite to it – you don’t want it to be completely soft). For fresh fettuccine, this literally takes 2 minutes, but for dried pasta, it will take 8 to 10 minutes.
Take 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water and slowly drizzle it into the bowl with the egg, cheese and miso, beating with a fork as you go. This will help you when you come to mix the paste with the hot pasta. The pasta water is tempering the egg mix (slowly raising the temperature of the paste) so it won’t get such a shock when it hits the hot pan (aka. less risk of scrambled eggs!) Then you’re going to transfer the cooked pasta directly from the pot of water into your pan with the guanciale and rendered fat. Get the heat on low and toss the pasta through the guanciale. Once you hear sizzling, turn the heat off.
And here’s the key part of any carbonara recipe! It may seem a little scary to add eggs to hot pasta (the scrambling fear is real!) but if you’re careful I promise it’s super easy.
Remember, the heat should be off at this point. And now, working quickly, pour the egg, cheese and miso paste into the pasta in the pan and toss with tongs quickly to coat the pasta. You’ll see the texture start to change – it’ll go from a paste to a looser liquid and then will finally form a silky, slightly thickened sauce in the pan. This literally happens in seconds so keep tossing that pasta! If you like your pasta a bit saucier, add a little more pasta water to loosen things up. Likewise, if the sauce is too runny for you, add a little more pecorino and give the pan a really good toss.
Carbonara is a pasta dish you want to serve straight away, so divide it between your plates, scatter over the extra pecorino, give it a good grind of black pepper and dig in!
Watch me make it
Got a question?
You could add half a teaspoon of fish sauce to get a similar umami flavour – or leave the miso out completely.
Carbonara works well with lots of different pasta shapes, so you can really choose what you like! I love using spaghetti, penne or rigatoni as well as fettuccine.
Carbonara is a tricky one to reheat, but the best way to do it is on the stovetop. Add a little water to the pasta in a small pot, then gently toss it as you heat it up over low heat.
You definitely can – guanciale can be hard to find and pancetta is a great alternative.
Like this recipe? Here are some of my other pasta favourites you might enjoy
If you make this recipe let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear how you get on.Print