March 24, 2024

Risotto Carbonara

Risotto Carbonara – it doesn’t get any richer than this

Another day, another risotto, and this risotto carbonara truly delivers. It builds upon the rich, savory, and salty flavors of the beloved classic, transforming them into an easy-to-make risotto dish. Done in under 45 minutes, this elevated restaurant-quality meal might seem like a lot of work, but it’s surprisingly easy to pull together. Whether for a cozy date night or a leisurely Sunday dinner, it’s a recipe that never fails to impress.

a bowl of risotto carbonara topped with fried guanciale grated cheese and an egg yolk.


Carbonara is a quick and relatively easy (although it does have its pain points) classic Italian pasta sauce made from eggs, hard cheese, and fatty cured pork. The sauce is rich and salty in flavor, and when prepared correctly, it becomes creamy and velvety. Traditionally, carbonara is served with spaghetti or another long pasta noodle such as bucatini. However, here we are taking this beloved sauce and marrying it with another Italian classic, risotto.

If you’ve never successfully made carbonara before—whether it’s due to the egg never properly emulsifying and overcooking, or the texture ending up clumpy and dry—fret not. This risotto carbonara recipe is almost foolproof and will yield a rich, creamy risotto.

two bowls of risotto carbonara topped with fried guanciale grated cheese and an egg yolk.


The flavors and ingredients incorporated into this risotto carbonara stay true to the classic Italian dish. Nevertheless, I have a few substitution suggestions in case you’re unable to find a particular ingredient or prefer to make a swap.

  • Arborio Rice – In each of my risotto recipes, I emphasize the importance of not reaching for the long grain rice tucked away in the pantry. It simply won’t produce the desired results. Different rice varieties contain varying levels of starch, and risotto relies on high-starch rice to achieve its signature creamy texture. Arborio is the most readily available and affordable option, commonly found in almost every supermarket. For those looking to elevate their dish, Carnaroli is the superior choice, albeit a bit more challenging to find. Fortunately, Carnaroli rice is available for purchase online HERE.
  • Guanciale – Staying true to the essence of the iconic dish, carbonara traditionally features guanciale. If you’re not familiar with this meat, you’re not alone; it’s one of the lesser-known cured meats. Guanciale comes from the pig’s jowl or cheek, imparting a rich and fatty flavor similar to bacon, but distinctively unsmoked. While guanciale might not be readily available in your everyday supermarket, you can typically find it at an Italian specialty market, often located near the cured meats section or behind the meat counter, if they have one.
    • Substitute– Guanciale offers a rich and intensely meaty flavor profile. However, if you can’t find guanciale or prefer an alternative, diced pancetta is an excellent substitute. It provides a similar savory quality to your dish.
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese – Pecorino is the cheese of choice for this recipe. For those unfamiliar, Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese crafted from sheep’s milk, while Parmesan is made from cow’s milk. Pecorino Romano is aged for a shorter duration, yielding a softer texture and boasting a tangier, saltier taste compared to Parmesan.
    • Substitute- Parmesan is a great swap.
  • Egg
  • Chicken Broth – Use a good flavorful broth for this recipe. I always use Better than Bouillon (roasted chicken) in my recipes as it allows me to control the intensity of the flavor.
  • Garlic -Fresh only!
  • Shallot

What, no wine!? Not in this recipe. While I often advocate for wine as an optional ingredient in risotto, this is one instance where I’d advise against it. The addition of wine would overpower the rich and savory flavors contributed by the egg and Pecorino Romano cheese.


  • Wide Pan- The rice requires ample surface area to cook properly. A wide sauté pan or even a braiser is ideal for this dish. Additionally, a large, wide skillet works well too. It’s best to avoid saucepans and Dutch ovens for this recipe.


Make the Egg / Cheese Paste – Before you begin, place the chicken broth in a saucepan over low heat. Keeping the broth warm helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the risotto cooking process, resulting in a better final texture.

In addition to preparing the broth, you’ll need to mix the egg yolks and freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese in a small bowl. Combine the two ingredients thoroughly. Then, slowly and gradually add the warm chicken broth (3 tbsp), one tablespoon at a time, into the egg and cheese mixture. Be sure to mix well in between additions or while drizzling in the broth. Adding the broth gradually ensures that you don’t accidentally cook the egg but simply add enough moisture to create a paste.

Cook the Guanciale – Place your pan over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the diced guanciale (no additional oil needed) and render it down for 5-6 minutes. Similar to other fatty cured meats, this will be slightly smoky at first as the fat melts away. Cook until the pieces turn a deeper color and become slightly crispy.

After cooking, remove the guanciale from the pan. Then, retain only 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat in the pan, discarding any excess.

Sauté the Base – On low heat add in the shallots and garlic and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they are soft and fragrant, but not brown. If the garlic begins to brown, the heat is too high.

Toast the Risotto – Next, add the unwashed arborio (or Carnaroli) rice to the pan and toast for 3 minutes, mixing every 10 seconds or so, until the grains start to become translucent.


Add the Broth – Add the warm chicken broth to the risotto, but not all at once! For every cup of risotto, you need approx. 4- 4 1/2 cups of broth. Have extra on hand! I found with different brands of Arborio rice I needed + or – a cup. My rule of thumb is to pour just enough broth to cover the risotto, when the broth starts to dip below the grains it is time to add more.

Mix, Add, Shake – Mix 2-3 times per broth add. If you end up mixing more, no big deal! Also give the pan a mix or a shake midway to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom. I typically mix once right after I add the broth and like 2-3 times a few minutes later. You will end up mixing more the further along the rice gets to make sure it doesn’t stick. This is also the perfect time to add salt. I recommend salting once when you first add the broth and then again after adding the cheese, as the cheese also contributes sodium to the dish.

Make it a Carbonara – When almost all of the broth has been absorbed, taste the grains. Are they still hard? If so, add more broth. Are they perfectly al dente? Then you don’t need more broth. Once the rice is al dente, turn off the heat. In three parts, add the carbonara paste to the risotto and vigorously mix. Mixing quickly helps emulsify the sauce while evenly melting the cheese.

Finish – Serve the risotto carbonara in a bowl topped with a generous amount of guanciale and extra grated cheese.

a bowl of risotto carbonara topped with fried guanciale grated cheese and an egg yolk.


Truth is, risotto doesn’t heat up as well as you would hope. This dish is truly meant to be served immediately; the longer it sits the more it firms up. If you have leftovers they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. When ready to reheat I recommend you placing the leftovers in a pan with a splash of broth to loosen it up, and heat over low heat until warm throughout.

Another great option for leftovers is to make arancini, or fried risotto balls. A recipe for that is coming soon.

Want more risotto? Check out my other 11 risotto recipes, like this one they are easy, straight forward and don’t require an arm workout.

Mushroom Parm Risotto // Kale & Pancetta Risotto
Lemon Parm Risotto // Cacio e Pepe Risotto
Spicy Vodka Risotto // Brown Butter & Sage Risotto
Creamy Tomato Risotto // Smoked Gouda Risotto
Lobster Risotto // Crab Risotto
French Onion Risotto

March 24, 2024

Risotto Carbonara

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This risotto carbonara builds upon the rich, savory, and salty flavors of the beloved classic Italian pasta dish, transforming them into an easy-to-make risotto.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Carbonara, Risotto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 people


  • 3 egg yolks whites discarded
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese loose cup freshly grated
  • 4-6 oz cubed guanciale
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth


  • Place the chicken broth on the stove on low heat to keep warm.
  • Mix the egg yolks and freshly grated PecorinoRomano cheese in a small bowl. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of chicken broth, one tablespoon at a time, mixing between additions to create a paste. Place on the side for later.
  • Place your pan over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the diced guanciale and render it down for 5-6 minutes. Mix every minute or so. When the guanciale is crispy and deep in color remove it from the pan.
  • Remove and discard all but 2 tbsp of the fat from the pan.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Add in the shallots and garlic and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until they are soft and fragrant, but not brown.
  • Add the arborio rice and mix to combine. Toast rice for 3-4 minutes until it starts to become translucent.
  • Add the first round of broth. Depending on the pan add broth until it just covers the risotto. (could be 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups). Give it a quick mix, a shake of the pan to ensure all grains are covered and cook until rice absorbs the majority of the broth. Mix 2-3 times each round of broth. Don't worry if you mix more. It terms of seasoning after the first round taste it (avoiding the rice), if it needs salt start with a heavy pinch (1/4 tsp) and go from there.
  • Add more broth and repeat above steps. This recipe calls between 4-5 cups of broth. If you notice that it is perfectly cooked at 4, don't add more. This part of the recipe really takes intuition and feeling, if the rice is still hard or hard for your liking then add more little by little.
  • Once all broth has been added, but not completely absorbed (approx. 18 minutes of cooking) give it a taste. The rice should be loose, yet al dente. If the rice has too much of a bite add more broth, about 1/4 cup at a time. 
  • Once al dente turn off the heat. In 3 parts add the egg and cheese paste and vigorously mix in between adds. If done right the risotto will be creamy and smooth, all the cheese should have melted and the egg should be emulsified into the sauce (ie. not clumpy or dry).
  • Serve the risotto carbonara immediately in a bowl topped with a generous amount of guanciale and extra grated cheese.

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