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A plate of pasta carbonara with leeks and lemon on a plate.

Pasta Carbonara — Easiest Weeknight Dinner


Adapted from: Everyday Food

Note: If you want to make this vegetarian, use 3 tablespoons of olive oil in place of the bacon. 


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 leeks (white and light-green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, and soaked in cold water
  • 3/4 pound short pasta, such as campanelle, orecchiette, or gemelli 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup), plus more for serving 
  • zest of 1 lemon plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped 


  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil (I use 1 tablespoon kosher salt). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet. (I do not pour off any fat…) Add leeks, season lightly with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add pasta to pot and cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup or more of the pasta cooking liquid — I reserve about 2 cups to ensure I have extra on hand for reheating. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture.
  3. Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired and serve immediately. Notes: If you are concerned about the raw eggs being cooked, simply add the pasta to the skillet with the leeks and the bacon. Add the sauce and cook for a minute or two. Add the parsley and serve. 
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, American

Keywords: leeks, lemon, pasta, carbonara