I was making Carbonara today: bacon was getting crisp, tossed a bit of chopped shallot, some butter, till it was time to add the cream. The closest I found at the store was half-and-half. In front of my eyes, the cream broke - I'm still grieving for that bacon.

What went wrong? Is that the wrong kind of cream? was my temperature too high? how is the cream I should use called in Canada ?


  • 3
    Folks, there are plenty of versions/variations of carbonara that do include cream, and the OP is making one of those versions and asking for help with it. Let's focus on helping out with that, not legislating what dishes can be called carbonara.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 30, 2017 at 23:52
  • 1
    OK. Is a suggestion of "if nothing else helps, try whisking the cream with a bit of cornstarch before adding - not too much or you are going to end up with imitation custard!" going to get me killed? It certainly helps in a lot of "XYZ breaks under heat" situation... Oct 31, 2017 at 0:46
  • @rackandboneman I'd be super happy if you posted it as an answer, and if anyone grouches about it being nontraditional, feel free to flag.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 31, 2017 at 19:59
  • @Jefromi I am always careful about posting things-to-try-that-might-or-might-not-solve-the-problem as answers, and this was no more no less... Oct 31, 2017 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


"Authentic" carbonara does not have cream. It's made with just guanciale, egg (yolks and whites), pecorino romano, and black pepper. Thanks to @GiuppeP for the clarification.

However, at least in the US (and, it appears, Canada) there is tremendous variation to what folks call "carbonara". What is more relevant to the question is technique. Whether you choose to use cream or not, in either case, add egg white and cheese (or cream, or half and half...) gradually, and more importantly, off the heat and with some added pasta cooking water. There is a bit of a knack to achieving the proper consistency. If it breaks, no sweat. It might not look pretty, but it is still fine to eat.

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