Lightened Up Spaghetti Carbonara
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Lightened Up Spaghetti Carbonara



I feel like for most of us the words "healthy" and "light" really mean "boring" or "tasteless". Whenever I eat diet foods that are supposed to taste like their fully loaded counterparts, they usually tend to be more reminiscent of cardboard than lighter versions of the original.

I recently told my husband I was going to work on a recipe for a healthy carbonara, and he understandably snickered. After all, if you're going to eat something called carbonara, it better well taste like three darn good things: Parmesan, bacon and pasta -- and "light" is not an adjective I'd use to describe any of those foods! So instead of substituting ingredients, I simply use less of the offending ones (except cream, that one doesn't make the cut here). I also like to use a combination of eggs and pasta water to help retain the lusciousness and creaminess of a classic carbonara.

On the day I was making this, my hubby came charging into the kitchen, having caught a whiff of the cooking bacon wafting through the house. However, as soon as he realized that this was my "carbonara light" experiment, he retreated, thinking it would taste terrible. After a bit of arm twisting, I succeeded in getting him to try it. Three bowls later, hubby asked that I please remove him from the kitchen before he ate the whole pot.

Which reminds me: this dish serves six, but if you eat it all on your own, it's definitely no longer qualifies as light!

Lightened Up Spaghetti Carbonara  (serves 6)

  • Prep Time: 10 mins,
  • Cook Time: 15 mins,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
I feel like for most of us the words "healthy" and "light" really mean "boring" or "tasteless". Whenever I eat diet foods that are supposed to taste like their fully loaded counterparts, they usually tend to be more reminiscent of cardboard than lighter...


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound turkey bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water*


  1. 1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta back into the cooking pot.
  2. 2. In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the bacon for five minutes. Add the garlic and onions and saute until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. 3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and cheese. Quickly (so it doesn't curdle) mix the egg/cheese mixture into the cooked pasta. Then, mix in the bacon and onions and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water.*
  4. 4. Toss to coat well and serve immediately.
  5. * The pasta will absorb some of the liquid as it sits, so if you won’t be serving it right away, add an additional 1/2 cup of warm pasta water just prior to serving.
Lightened Up Spaghetti Carbonara

Nutrition Information

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  1. marissabrotherton

    November 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Wow this is a great recipe! Definitely saving it, it was delicious!

  2. Courtney

    September 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Love this recipe!!! I was wondering, do you think it would be possible to do this with spaghetti squash? Thanks.

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  4. Christina

    April 25, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I can’t wait to make this! I love pasta carbonara but I always feel so guilty eating it because of all the cream. A question about the pasteurized eggs – will the egg package specify that the eggs are pasteurized? I just checked what I have in the fridge and I don’t see the word pasteurized anywhere.

    • catherine

      April 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Yes, the package should specify! If you can find the brand Davidson’s Safest Choice those are the ones I used!

  5. Rebecca Bialy

    February 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I am really enjoying your website and your cookbook!
    With a toddler who is not a fan of meat I am really working to find new recipes for the whole family and this one is a HIT!!!
    Thank you so much and keep the yummyness coming!

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  8. Happy

    January 4, 2013 at 12:54 am

    Can this be fed to a 19 month old toddler?

    • catherine

      January 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      If your baby is already eating solids and doing well at that and doesn’t have an egg allergy, then this should be fine! If he or she hasn’t tried noodles yet then you should definitely watch closely and help them eat it! I would chop the noodles into smaller pieces, too.

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  10. April

    November 2, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Live in nj. In the dark due to sandy. Made the carbonara in the dark last night. Was all i hoped for. Was delish!! I am lactose intolerant and love recipes that replace cream so i can enjoy. Thanks for sharing the recipe!! Wish we had leftovers

  11. Christine

    October 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Thank you, thank you, Catherine, for showing us this yummy traditional version of Carbonara! This “egg” version is more the true version versus the carbonara we see in restaurants which usually has cream. I know the carbonara die-hards like me prefer the italian “egg” version and cringe at versions that add the cream- so thank you for showing us the turkey bacon way!

  12. Kate

    October 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Oh, yum this looks so good! Even the lighter version I would have a hard time stopping myself at one bowl.

  13. Emily

    October 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight–tasted great and was easy to put together. I love carbonara but never eat it because it’s so rich. Seems like a good alternative to spaghetti with meat/tomato sauce.

  14. Enne

    October 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    How is this for left overs? Does it reheat well?

    • catherine

      October 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      It reheats well and tastes great as leftovers! It really is best fresh, but I had it as leftovers twice after I made this recipe and it was still yummy!

  15. Kristi

    October 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Do the eggs cook through being in the pot with the hot pasta? Raw eggs don’t really scare me, but I’m curious.

    • catherine

      October 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      The eggs do cook partially because of being mixed with the hot ingredients. That’s what so great about using pasteurized eggs! They’re safer and have already been heat treated to become pasteurized!

      • Kristi

        October 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm

        Awesome! Thanks for the reply. Can’t wait to make this. :)

  16. aida mollenkamp

    October 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Geez, I adore traditional carbonara but I really can’t eat more than a few bites. Thanks for lightening it up!

  17. Gail

    October 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    going to make this tonight! thanks.

  18. Lisatu

    October 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Going to make this for next weeks pasta night. Thanks!

  19. CCMom73

    October 24, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Yum! dinner tonight for my boys!