Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara in Kenya

1 April 2023|Global Cuisine

Spaghetti Carbonara
 Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes, you can make authentic spaghetti carbonara in Kenya at home. Ingredients can be available, to make the traditional style like how the Romans made it.

This is the most expensive culinary masterpiece I ever made so far, so expensive that my anxiety levels were over the roof that I might mess it up with no chance to redeem myself. The paradoxical twist is; spaghetti carbonara was considered a peasant dish in ancient Rome. (Ouch, I can’t afford to be even a peasant in the 21st Century) 

The good news is, it turned like 50x better than any carbonara I have ever had in any restaurant, so that is a win.

It will cost upwards of KSh 5,000 for a serving of two, ingredients used are rare and special so that explains the price.

Estimate cost for the three major Italian ingredients for this serving;

  •  500g Guanciale: KSh 2,300
  •  200g Pecorino Romano Cheese: KSh 2,400
  •  300g Premium Spaghetti: KSh 330

We will later explore substitutions to make this dish cheaper even tho it means a loss in authenticity 


  •   300g spaghetti (No 5): Good premium thick spaghetti, (check the link on the best spaghetti brands at the end of this post )
  •   500g guanciale or pancetta or streaky bacon
  •   200g Pecorino Romano cheese
  •   3 free-range egg yolks (at room temperature)
  •   Freshly ground black pepper
Thick Spaghetti closeup
Thick Spaghetti closeup


  1. Salt water in a saucepan; till ocean water salty
  2. Twist spaghetti into boiling water( twisting ensures no sticking), and cook for approximately 8 minutes or as per package instructions. Drain the spaghetti but save some pasta water.
  3. Cube your meat ( Pancetta, Guanciale, or Bacon) into 1/2 cm cubes. If using guanciale remove the skin before chopping.
  4. Using a cold pan, medium-low heat add your meat pieces and let them render out the fat but don’t let them crisp or burn
  5. As meat is rendering, mix the egg yolks with pecorino cheese till homogeneous you can use little pasta water if too thick. Add some black pepper at this stage
  6. Add cooked spaghetti while stirring, and then toss to get all the rendered fat to infuse, lower heat to low, or take off the heat. Add 1/4 cup pasta water to stop the frying.
  7. Pour the egg yolk and cheese mixture while stirring around, if you had taken the pan off heat bring it back on to thicken the sauce.
  8. Serve on a plate, and finish off with the residual meat pieces and cream. If too dry add a little pasta water till nicely moist
  9. Finish it off with more grated cheese and pepper on top


  1. If using bacon go for streaky bacon because it has a high fat content and renders   well
  2.   This recipe calls for high-quality ingredients, don’t cheap out on anything if you want authenticity.
  3.   You can adjust the amount of egg yolks depending on how thick or thin you want your sauce, it also depends on the size of your eggs
  4.  You can add crushed garlic as an optional ingredient
  5.  No egg whites! 
  6. Use available substitutes since some ingredients are hard to find or straight-up expensive

Grocery Guide to Ingredients

  •  Guanciale is a cured and seasoned pork jaw and cheek. It is available at Artcaffe  MarketQueen Deli, and Prime Cuts KenyaAll guanciale is available in 100g sizes only.
  •  Pancetta is ridiculously salty and is a substitute if you can’t find guanciale. Pancetta is simply bacon that hasn’t been smoked. It is just a cured pork belly
  •  Bacon is just addictive, it is smoky, salty, fatty, crispy.. it just has everything. Mostly from pig’s belly like pancetta, but bacon is smoked. It can also be from other parts of the pig like; the back and shoulder. Farmer’s Choice is the bacon brand I would recommend. Get the streaky type of bacon since it has extensive layers of fats that we need to render out for our carbonara. 
  •  Pecorino Romano is a cheese made from sheep’s milk. You can find it at Carrefour SupermarketsUse Parmigiano Reggiano if you can’t find Pecorino Romano
  •  The spaghetti brand I used is De Cecco, it is high quality, thick, and good in texture. Learn more on spaghetti brands at the first link below

Related Links

Review: The 5 Best Spaghetti Brands in Kenya

Leave a Reply