Kimchi Carbonara Pasta Recipe

If you've ever had pasta carbonara, spaghetti carbonara, or any variation of carbonara, then you know just how decadent and delicious it is. Traditional carbonara is an Italian dish that is made with egg, hard cheese (like Parmigiano-Reggiano), cured pork, and black pepper. Any type of pasta works well with carbonara, however the most classic rendition uses spaghetti. Though carbonara always involves these crucial ingredients, there's plenty of room to customize the dish and get creative with the flavor — and that's exactly what this kimchi carbonara pasta recipe does.

Recipe developer Cecilia Ryu adds some spicy flair to traditional carbonara, thanks to the addition of kimchi, and the results are incredibly tasty. Kimchi, which is fermented cabbage, has a spicy, tangy, and salty taste and a crunchy texture. By adding kimchi to a rich, savory dish like carbonara, you get a harmony of unexpected flavors that work surprisingly well together. "This pasta is very creamy and rich, just like regular carbonara pasta, but the addition of kimchi adds not only crunch, but a little spicy kick, too," Ryu says of this recipe. "The kimchi cuts the richness of the sauce, too, which makes it a perfect combination." 

If you love traditional carbonara and want to add a little kick, this kimchi carbonara pasta will definitely do the trick! Keep reading to learn how to prepare it at home.

Gather the ingredients to prepare kimchi carbonara pasta

You may have to make a run to the grocery store to get some of the ingredients for kimchi carbonara pasta, but we think it'll be worth it. To prepare this tasty recipe, you'll need to shop for spaghetti or bucatini, chopped bacon, eggs (three whole and one egg yolk), chopped kimchi, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, ground black pepper, and chopped chives as a garnish. You'll notice that the ingredients for this recipe mirror those of a traditional carbonara, thanks to the bacon, eggs, parmesan cheese, and black pepper.

Start by cooking the spaghetti and bacon

After you've sorted your ingredients, you can begin preparing this kimchi carbonara pasta. You'll want to start with the pasta itself. Simply bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and then cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Then, it's time to cook the bacon. Place a cold pan on the stovetop, and add in your bacon, which should be cut up into ¼-inch pieces. Next, turn the heat to medium-low. (By starting the bacon out on a cold pan, you'll help ensure that each piece gets nice and crispy.) Allow the bacon to cook in the pan for about five minutes, then remove the pieces, and set them aside on a plate.

Cook the kimchi in the same pan that you cooked the bacon in

In the same pan that you just cooked the bacon in, you can go ahead and throw the kimchi in. Make sure that your kimchi is chopped up, as shown in the above picture, and turn the heat up to medium-high on the stovetop. By cooking the kimchi in the bacon fat, you'll help meld the two flavors together, which will add all the more flavor to your carbonara. Continue cooking the kimchi for about five minutes, until it softens a little bit. After five minutes, go ahead and turn off the heat.

Mix the egg, cheese, and pepper together

Now that you've cooked the bacon and kimchi, you can begin preparing the "sauce" for the carbonara, which consists of an egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and black pepper mixture. Whisk these ingredients together in a small bowl until they're thoroughly combined. 

If you've never had carbonara before, then you may find the eggs to be a strange addition, but they're actually what help give the dish its famously creamy texture! "I used to make this with heavy cream instead of egg yolks," Ryu explains. "I thought it would be easier, but after making it the traditional way, I realized how much more depth in flavor it has when using the eggs yolks. And it's actually much easier to make, too! The egg yolks make the sauce silky and creamy without it being too heavy."

Add the pasta to the kimchi, then add the bacon, and finally the egg/cheese mixture

Now that your egg and cheese mixture is ready, turn your attention back to the spaghetti. Once it's done cooking, reserve a cup of the pasta water, then drain the noodles, and put them into the pan with the kimchi. Toss the spaghetti and kimchi together, and then add the bacon and egg mixture into the pan as well. It's important to work quickly during this step so the egg mixture doesn't start to scramble. Continue mixing everything together and tossing the noodles until a velvety, creamy sauce coats the spaghetti. Slowly add in the reserved pasta water to help the sauce come together. (Keep in mind that you may not have to use the entire cup.)

Add the finishing touches to your kimchi carbonara, and serve

As soon as you're done tossing the pasta, serve portions onto plates, top with chopped chives, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and black pepper, and enjoy! You'll notice all of the richness of carbonara, along with the unexpected but very welcome spice and crunch of the kimchi. Though this dish is great on its own, Ryu likes to serve it with a side salad, and you could pair it with just about any fresh vegetable. With its ideal balance of savory and spice, this kimchi carbonara pasta will surely leave your taste buds wanting more and more.

Kimchi Carbonara Pasta Recipe
5 from 45 ratings
By adding kimchi to a rich, savory dish like carbonara, you get a harmony of unexpected flavors that work surprisingly well together.
Prep Time
Cook Time
kimchi carbonara pasta on plate
Total time: 16 minutes
  • 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
  • 4 strips thick cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 2 cups cabbage kimchi, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • chopped chives, for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions.
  2. In the meantime, cook the bacon in a separate cold sauté pan over medium-low heat until crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Then, remove the bacon, and set aside on a plate.
  3. Add the chopped kimchi to the pan with the bacon fat, and sauté over medium-high heat until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, cheese, and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl until combined.
  5. When the pasta is done cooking, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.
  6. Add the pasta to the pan with the kimchi. Toss to coat. Working quickly, add the reserved bacon and the egg/cheese mixture.
  7. Continue mixing thoroughly until the sauce comes together into a creamy, velvety sauce, slowly adding the pasta water, if needed.
  8. Taste for seasoning. Add more cheese and black pepper to taste.
  9. Top with chopped chives, and serve immediately.
Calories per Serving 520
Total Fat 18.4 g
Saturated Fat 7.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 153.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 61.0 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Total Sugars 3.2 g
Sodium 649.0 mg
Protein 25.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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