Spaghetti Salad Carbonara

Spaghetti Salad Carbonara

Spaghetti Salad Carbonara 1

The inspiration for this recipe comes from my favorite neighborhood restaurant. Salvatore, the owner, was born in Sicily and grew up in Florence before moving to the US to open his ristorante. Even though the menu has all kinds of choices that I’d love to try, I almost always order the same thing: Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It’s pretty much the holy grail of pasta dishes – the perfect mix of a few simple ingredients that when combined together are amazing.

But a warm pasta dish isn’t exactly a very good fit to go with a cookout on a hot summer night. How about a cold pasta salad version?

While the starting point was Salvotore’s grandmother’s family recipe, it takes a couple of left turns along the way to end up with a uniquely American/Italian cold pasta salad that will feel right at home on anyone’s picnic table. So without further ado, here’s my Spaghetti Salad Carbonara Recipe.              

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Here’s our lineup of ingredients. For pasta salads, I always use real mayonnaise and my favorite by a country mile is Best Foods. Depending on what part of the world you hail from, you might know it as Hellman’s – same mayo, same logo, just a different name.

Break spaghetti noodles into 2 inch lengths and bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook to al dente, drain, then toss with olive oil and let cool.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon into ½ inch pieces and sauté until crispy. Drain on paper towels and add to pasta.  

For those in the know, real Spaghetti Carbonara would use pancetta, which is the Italian version of bacon. While similar to our bacon, it does have a slightly different taste. Feel free to use pancetta, or just use the combination of regular bacon and ham for a similar flavor.

Time to chop up the rest of the stuff. Dice the ham, chop up the eggs and slice the celery thinly.

Right about now, I’m sure there is a purist somewhere saying that celery has no business being in Spaghetti Carbonara! And they would be 100% correct. But I like the addition of a little texture and the freshness it adds.

Add all the stuff to the pasta and mix well. Then add the mayonnaise, milk and parmesan cheese. Toss together. Add a little extra milk if it’s too thick and chill for a couple of hours.

Side Note: Parmesan is not Parmigiano Reggiano. American parmesan is an entirely different cheese. A little sweeter and creamier, and nowhere near as expensive, parmesan is the perfect cheese for this recipe. Use the real deal for garnish on the top.

This is what it looks like, sans garnish. It looks good enough to eat. Truth be told, usually we just dig in right about at this step. If you have company coming over… 

Add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano, a dusting of flat leaf parsley and a little crumbled bacon.

Spaghetti Salad Carbonara

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5 from 1 vote

Spaghetti Salad Carbonara

How to make Spaghetti Salad Carbonara. A tasty riff on the classic Italian dish, remade in to a cold pasta salad version, perfect for backyard cookouts and picnics.  
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: cold spaghetti salad, pasta salad, spaghetti carbonara, spaghetti salad carbonara
Servings: 6


  • 8 ounces spaghetti broken into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 ounces ham diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery sliced thin
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs chopped finely
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • parmigiano reggiano cheese for garnish
  • Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish


  • Break the spaghetti into 2 inch lengths and cook to al dente in salted water according to the package directions. Drain and place in large mixing bowl. Toss with olive oil and let cool.
  • Cut bacon into ½ inch pieces and sauté until crispy. Drain on paper towels and add to pasta.
  • Chop up ham, celery and hard-boiled eggs and add to the pasta.
  • Add mayonnaise, milk, parmesan cheese and mix well.
  • Add freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with Parmigiano Reggiano and flat leaf parsley. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

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