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!

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Lightened Up Spaghetti Carbonara (serves 6)

Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 15 mins


  • 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. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot. 

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally so it cooks evenly, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes.

3. Whisk together the eggs and cheese in a small bowl. Add it to the pasta and immediately (so it doesn't curdle) stir and toss together. Add the bacon, onions and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water (see Cook's Note). 

4. Toss to coat well and serve immediately (see Cook's Note).

Cook's Note: The pasta will absorb some of the liquid as it sits, so if not serving right away, toss with the remaining 1/2 cup warm pasta water just before serving.

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Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.