Calabrian Carbonara

New York City chef Andrew Carmellini uses Calabrian nduja, the spicy, spreadable sausage, to bring loads of delicious heat and flavor to his carbonara. I never knew of Chef Carmellini, but he’s published two cookbooks – Urban Italian in 2008, and American Flavor in 2015.

I spotted this Calabrian Carbonara recipe from Food & Wine online, and because of my love of nduja, pronounce in-doo-ya, I just had to make this!

I’ve used nduja in one pasta dish on this blog – a creamy lemon pappardelle with nduja – where the nduja really stands out. Although I see many recipes of nduja added to red sauces, I’ve resisted doing that. I just feel that one should be able to taste the nduja , as in this recipe.

Calabrian Carbonara

6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces nduja
Kosher salt
Dried oregano, for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the whole egg and 1/2 cup of grated cheese.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al denote. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the nduja and cook over moderate heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon until the fat is rendered, about 3 to 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss the hot pasta with the nduja. Add the egg mixture and the reserved pasta cooking water and toss aggressively until the pasta is coated in a creamy sauce, about 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls or a platter and sprinkle with dried oregano.

Serve, passing more cheese at the table. I also served cayenne pepper flakes and whole Calabrian peppers.

By Published On: May 27th, 202253 Comments on Calabrian Carbonara

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Bernadette May 27, 2022 at 6:26 AM - Reply

    I just watched Stanley Tucci’s latest episode and he featured ndujo. I wanted to make something using this ingredient and now I have a recipe thanks to you. Where did you buy your ndujo?

    • Chef Mimi May 27, 2022 at 9:06 AM - Reply

      I get mine from Igourmet, Murrays, DiBruno Bros., just about any gourmet shop. It’s really a wonderful product.

  2. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen May 27, 2022 at 9:21 AM - Reply

    This looks so full of flavor Mimi! A dish that will be craved!

    • Chef Mimi May 27, 2022 at 11:32 AM - Reply

      I’m already craving it again!

  3. Alex May 27, 2022 at 1:32 PM - Reply

    Hi Mimi, I don’t know if you are aware of an Italian-American couple that make up pasta grammar on youtube. Eva, from Calabria, and Harper, from different parts of the USA usually celebrate Italian cuisine and have apparently succeeded to make a business of guided tours to Italy along with the online presence on multiple channels. Eva is an accomplished cook and pasta maker, but above all, she loves Calabria. That said, she makes Nguja from scratch. Check out this link for more info and I hope you enjoy this :-)

    • Chef Mimi May 27, 2022 at 1:43 PM - Reply

      Oh my goodness, I didn’t know about these two! What fun! Thank you for the link!!!

  4. Abbe@This is How I Cook May 27, 2022 at 2:38 PM - Reply

    I love the stuff and am lucky to find a local variety at our Whole Foods. Now I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks, Mimi!

    • Chef Mimi May 27, 2022 at 6:25 PM - Reply

      Oh good! I have a Whole Foods 80 miles away. So it’s not easy to get to… but I love it!

  5. cynthiawoodman May 27, 2022 at 3:18 PM - Reply

    How funny! My sister and brother in law are both in calabria right now! This sounds wonderful!

    • Chef Mimi May 27, 2022 at 6:26 PM - Reply

      Oh I’m so jealous! I haven’t been… so many more regions of Italy to visit…

  6. David Scott Allen May 27, 2022 at 3:28 PM - Reply

    As you know, I love my traditional carbonara, but I’m willing to forgo tradition for this! I think ‘nduja is one of the foods of the gods!

    • Chef Mimi May 27, 2022 at 6:27 PM - Reply

      It is! That sums it up! Fabulous stuff. Traditional carbonara is wonderful as well…..

      • David Scott Allen February 17, 2023 at 12:57 PM

        OMG – made this (finally) for dinner the other night. Just fabulous! I found ‘nduja at World Market of all places, and another brand at a local gourmet store. This will become a regula for us, as long as we can get the ‘nduja! Thank you so much for this recipe!

      • Chef Mimi February 17, 2023 at 1:02 PM

        Well, there’s always Amazon! Glad you enjoyed it!

  7. thatskinnychickcanbake May 29, 2022 at 4:42 AM - Reply

    I haven’t made carbonara in years….and now I’m intrigued by your recipe. Nduja is new to me and this yummy pasta will be a great way to experience a new ingredient!!

    • Chef Mimi May 29, 2022 at 5:41 PM - Reply

      It’s a perfect way to enjoy it, besides slathering it on bread. Hope you find some!

  8. Angie@Angie's Recipes May 29, 2022 at 8:19 AM - Reply

    Haven’t made or had carbonara in a really long while and this has me crave some right now!

    • Chef Mimi May 29, 2022 at 5:41 PM - Reply

      Shame on you! (Kidding.) It’s certainly not great if you have a cholesterol issue…

  9. Jeff the Chef May 29, 2022 at 10:48 AM - Reply

    I’ve never had nduja, but you’ve sure got me curious about it!

    • Chef Mimi May 29, 2022 at 5:42 PM - Reply

      Oh, you’ve got to try it. First just put some on a charcuterie and cheese platter, and spread on good bread. You’ll love it!

  10. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats May 29, 2022 at 12:53 PM - Reply

    I agree nduja is wasted in heavy sauces. This looks so tasty and rich – I would probably need to take a nap after eating! :)

    • Chef Mimi May 29, 2022 at 5:42 PM - Reply

      I’m glad you agree – I just think it’s a waste of something so delightful!

  11. Sherry M May 29, 2022 at 8:54 PM - Reply

    i recently watched a youtuber make carbonara; he was scathing about cooks adding cream :) So funny. Of course your recipe doesn’t make this hideous mistake – hehehe!

    • Chef Mimi May 30, 2022 at 11:20 AM - Reply

      Oh goodness. That’s so wrong!

  12. May 30, 2022 at 7:53 AM - Reply

    Nduja is a great compliment to many dishes. I do like that’s been added to this Carbonara. Not something I’ve thought of or done myself before. What a taste sensation!

    • Chef Mimi May 30, 2022 at 11:22 AM - Reply

      I love nduja all by itself, but don’t mind adding it to recipes like this, where it highlights the dish. It’s just so wonderful!

  13. Carrie Tyler May 30, 2022 at 8:59 AM - Reply

    I love Carbonara and this recipe looks absolutely delicious! I’ve never tried nduja and you have definitely peaked my interest! Thanks so much for this inspiration, Mimi!

    • Chef Mimi May 30, 2022 at 11:19 AM - Reply

      It’s a fabulous food, especially just spread on warm bread. Hope you can find some!

  14. Judee May 30, 2022 at 11:59 AM - Reply

    It looks so good that I could dig right in. I do love pasta but not really good on the heat.

    • Chef Mimi May 30, 2022 at 7:24 PM - Reply

      Ohhhh, well you probably shouldn’t make this!!!

  15. Velva May 30, 2022 at 6:33 PM - Reply

    Fantastic! Always, ready for a good carbonara recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chef Mimi May 31, 2022 at 6:35 AM - Reply

      the traditional recipe is wonderful, but this adds some extra zing to the pasta!

  16. Kelly | Foodtasia May 30, 2022 at 10:06 PM - Reply

    Mimi, what a tasty way to make carbonara! It looks fabulous! I have Urban Italian cookbook on my shelf – a good book.

    • Chef Mimi May 31, 2022 at 6:35 AM - Reply

      Oh, good to know! I should get it.

  17. Linger a Little, Kristy May 31, 2022 at 11:13 AM - Reply

    I’ve never tried or even seen a recipe with ndujo until your blog. This gives me a wonderful reason to try something new. I’ll have to look around at a couple gourmet shops here in Kansas City to find it. This pasta dish sounds amazing. Thanks for always sharing such interesting recipes.

    • Chef Mimi May 31, 2022 at 1:06 PM - Reply

      Oh, so sweet! You should be able to find it, maybe even at a Whole Foods. Try it on warm bread first. It’s fabulous on a charcuterie board and with cheese.

  18. Ben | Havocinthekitchen May 31, 2022 at 11:47 AM - Reply

    Calabrian nduja is such a lovely addition to this pasta which in fact looks terrific and sounds ultra tasty. You also styled spaghetti so beautifully – I always struggle plating it!

    • Chef Mimi May 31, 2022 at 1:05 PM - Reply

      Aww thanks! I really don’t do much. I’ just not patient enough for styling!

  19. Debra May 31, 2022 at 10:01 PM - Reply

    What a rich and satisfying dish, Mimi. I have already visualized the dinner I will prepare for my son and daughter-in-law when they next visit! They frequently include sausages in their recipes, and I might be able to surprise them with something new to try!

    • Chef Mimi June 1, 2022 at 7:01 AM - Reply

      Oh fabulous! So happy to help!!!

  20. kitchenriffs June 1, 2022 at 9:54 AM - Reply

    What a neat way to use nduja! Love the stuff, and don’t use it nearly as often as I should. This is really, really good — thanks.

    • Chef Mimi June 1, 2022 at 10:29 AM - Reply

      You’ll love this recipe if you already love nduja. Honestly, though, I could just eat it on warm bread all the time and be happy.

  21. For the Love of Cooking June 1, 2022 at 12:07 PM - Reply

    My kind of comfort food!

    • Chef Mimi June 1, 2022 at 4:53 PM - Reply

      Yes indeedy!

  22. Raymund June 1, 2022 at 7:25 PM - Reply

    That indeed looks really tasty, I love this recipe, definitely its a great comfort food

    • Chef Mimi June 1, 2022 at 7:39 PM - Reply

      It is so tasty – full of flavor – and definitely fits into the comfort food category!

  23. nancyc June 1, 2022 at 10:08 PM - Reply

    This carbonara looks and sounds so delicious!

    • Chef Mimi June 2, 2022 at 6:35 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Nancy! It was really good.

  24. Karen (Back Road Journal) June 6, 2022 at 2:17 PM - Reply

    What a delicious looking and flavorful sounding plate of pasta. I’ve heard of nduja but have never had it.

  25. Valentina June 6, 2022 at 4:03 PM - Reply

    This recipe sounds amazing! A spicy, spreadable sausage?? How delicious. I haven’t cooked with Nduja before, but I’m going to now. :-) ~Valentina

    • Chef Mimi June 7, 2022 at 6:13 AM - Reply

      The best way to experience is to not cook with it. Just add it to a charcuterie platter and spread it on warm bread…

  26. Thao @ In Good Flavor June 6, 2022 at 8:44 PM - Reply

    I don’t eat carbonara much but I love it. I’ve never heard of nduja, but it sounds fabulous! I’m sure it elevates carbonara to the next level.

    • Chef Mimi June 7, 2022 at 6:11 AM - Reply

      I hope you can find some to try it! It’s tasty and spicy.

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