This 5-Ingredient Ramen Carbonara is such an easy, delicious way to get dinner on the table in just minutes! All the usual suspects are there – pancetta, egg yolks, parmesan cheese – with the addition of chewy quick-cooking ramen noodles. Also, everything is made in just one pan!
This post is part of a series we’re doing every Friday – 5-Ingredient Friday, so be sure to check out these 5-Ingredient Fritatas, this 5-Ingredient Garlicky Shrimp Pasta, and these 5-Ingredient Sausage Stuffed Peppers.
5-Ingredient Ramen Carbonara
Just when you think carbonara couldn’t get any more delicious or easy to prepare, I whittled the amount of pans used down to just one, cut the cook time in half, and opted for chewy ramen noodles instead of spaghetti. And my gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a carbonara more delicious.
If you haven’t had carbonara (why?!), here’s the general flavor profile in my go-to recipe:
- salty pancetta cut into a generous dice
- a sauce made of creamy egg yolks + plenty of parmesan cheese + starchy pasta water
- freshly grated black pepper
- aldente pasta
The beauty of a true carbonara is there’s isn’t a drop of cream in sight, yet the velvety texture of the sauce would say otherwise – but trust me, there isn’t. Surprisingly, all you need to create a luxurious sauce is egg yolks, a little bit of cheese and a little bit of starchy, salty cooking pasta water to loosen the sauce up.
Why Ramen Noodles?
I first became obsessed with swapping out spaghetti for ramen noodles after I tried a truly delicious ramen cacio e pepe (that I replicated here) in Arizona. It was the single best thing I’d eaten in months, and now I kind of want all my favorite pasta dishes to use ramen noodles instead of what they’re truly meant to be served with. There’s something about the chewy fast-cooking noodles that pairs so perfectly with some many classic pasta dishes.
How to make 5-Ingredient Ramen Carbonara
- Cook pancetta until crisp, and drain on paper towels. Reserve that fat!
- While the pancetta cooks, whisk egg yolks and cheese together.
- Add water and ramen noodles to the pot. Bring the water to a boil and keep flipping the dried ramen until it starts to soften. Use a fork or tongs to separate the noodles. The ramen cooks super fast, so this is a quick process!
- Once the noodles are cooked, remove excess water into a liquid measuring cup or bowl and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot starchy water into to the egg yolks. While tossing the noodles, pour in egg mixture and continue to toss noodles until cheese has melted. Once the mixture is creamy, add pancetta back to the pasta, toss and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with more grated cheese, obv.
Can I use regular dried pasta for this recipe?
I’m going to go with no on this one. Ramen cooks in a VERY short amount of time, so the liquid would have to be adjusted significantly if you wanted to use any other kind of pasta than what’s stated in the recipe.
Why do you only use egg yolks in carbonara?
So this is just a personal preference. I like the richness of only egg yolks, and feel that it gives the sauce a silk-like texture. Plus, this recipe is only meant for two people and one egg wouldn’t create the creamy sauce I’m looking for.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- If you can’t find pancetta, or you just want to use pantry ingredients, bacon will also work.
- Any cheese similar to parmesan will work great, such as pecorino or Romano
- Make sure the heat is on VERY low when you toss the egg mixture with the noodles, and toss constantly until the mixture is brought up to temperature and the cheese has melted. If you don’t do this, you risk the eggs cooking into scrambled eggs.
- All taste buds are different! I like things VERY salty, so instead of 1/4 tsp. salt, I actually add 1/2 tsp. I you’re like me, add 1/4 tsp. taste and then add more as needed.
Pretty things/tools used in today’s post
5-Ingredient Ramen Carbonara
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 3 oz. pancetta (1 1/2-inch piece cut into a 1/4-inch dice)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups water (or a little bit more if needed)
- 2 packages ramen noodles, seasoning pack left out
- Heat a medium saute pan to a medium heat. Add olive and pancetta. Render the fat from the pancetta until crispy, stirring often so the pancetta doesn't burn. Once the pancetta is crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, set aside.
- While the pancetta cooks, whisk egg yolks and cheese together in a small bowl. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and a little bit of freshly ground black pepper.
- Once the panetta has cooked, add water and ramen noodles to the pot. Bring the water to a boil and keep flipping the dried ramen until it starts to soften. Use a fork or tongs to seperate the noodles. Simmer and continue tossing in the water until completely soft.
- Once the noodles are cooked, remove excess water into a liquid measuring cup or bowl. Turn the heat off. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup hot starchy water into to the egg yolks. While tossing the noodles, pour in egg mixture. Turn the heat on low and continue to toss noodles until cheese has melted, if necessary, add more reserved water or, if you're out of pasta water, hot water. Once mixture is creamy, add pancetta back to the pasta, toss and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with more grated cheese.
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