Creamy, savory, and full of umami—thanks to lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano, bacon, and garlic—this simple pantry pasta tastes like the Italian love-child of carbonara and cacio e pepe. Shallots and garlic are cooked in bacon fat, then simmered with heavy cream and starchy pasta water for a sauce that’s full of flavor. It’s the best meal to quickly put together on a weeknight since it comes together in under 30 minutes.
Related Reading: Spaghetti Carbonara Is the Weeknight Pasta You’ll Make On Repeat
Swaps Are Encouraged
The real joy of this recipe is how amenable it is to swaps. Onions can be used in place of shallots. Pancetta or guanciale (should you have them on hand) are great substitutes for bacon. You can make it a little spicy with a dash of pepper flakes or add extra protein by serving a fried egg on top.
Any Pasta Shape Is Welcome
Bucatini’s tubular shape with a hole down the middle ensures that every bite of pasta is covered in sauce. But since this is a weeknight pasta, and you’ve got to just use what’s in your pantry, other shapes are perfectly fine to swap in. Spaghetti and fettuccine are obvious choices, but shapes like shells and orechiette that can hold little cups of sauce are great too.
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Reserve Your Pasta Water for a Creamier Sauce
Don’t drain all that pasta water! Chefs know that starchy pasta water is the key to creating silky sauces. While the pasta cooks, it releases starch into the water. The starch acts as an emulsifier when tossed with sauce, making it cling to noodles rather than clump—or even worse, separate. Plus, if you’re salting your water (which you always should), it’ll add a bit more salty flavor to the pasta. Pro tip: You can also freeze leftover pasta water in ice cube trays and pop them into soups or stews down the line to act as a thickener!
Bucatini with Bacon Cream Sauce Recipe
This pasta is a pantry staple dream, tossed with bacon, garlic, shallots, cheese, and cream. Serve as is or pair it with an easy-to-build side salad.
- 1 pound bucatini
- 10 ounces bacon, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Prepare bucatini to al dente according to package instructions, reserving ½ cup pasta water.
- Meanwhile, add the bacon to a skillet over medium high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes on both sides, until your desired level of crispiness.
- Use tongs to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan.
- Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant.
- Add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper and whisk for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Add the al dente bucatini, ½ cup reserved pasta water, bacon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and parsley, and cook for 1-2 minutes, tossing with tongs, until the bucatini is fully coated in glossy sauce.
- Serve with parsley.
Header image courtesy of Alexis deBoschenk.