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You Love Pasta? Learn the Difference Between Alfredo and Carbonara!

Who doesn’t love rich and creamy pasta like Alfredo and Carbonara? These pasta dishes are widely known and probably some of the most popular pasta dishes in the world.

Even though these pasta sauces are extremely popular, many people are often confused about Alfredo and Carbonara. Alfredo and Carbonara sauces are both white and has that creamy texture.

So what is the difference between them, really?

The Ingredient

First, let’s talk about Alfredo. Alfredo basically uses a combination of butter and heavy cream as its sauce base. Garlic and parsley are typically added as a nice addition to the flavor.

And even though Alfredo pasta tastes good on its own, some protein like chicken or shrimp is often added to the dish.

Fettuccine is the number one pasta on the list when it comes to Alfredo sauce. But sometimes, linguini or even penne is also used to make the Alfredo pasta.

On the other hand, Carbonara sauce is a little bit more complex. This sauce uses pancetta (salt-cured salumi made of pork belly meat), egg yolks, heavy cream, garlic, and plenty of black pepper.

The pancetta in Carbonara sauce is essential if you want to get the authentic Italian Carbonara flavor. It gives this sauce a more finished feel and there is no other additional ingredient necessary.

During the cooking process, usually, a hard, sharp Italian cheese like Pecorino Romano is added. But nowadays, people also use Parmesan in their Carbonara pasta dishes.

And even though we might see Carbonara sauce paired with fettuccine, this sauce’s first choice pasta is actually spaghetti.

The Texture, Flavor, and Color

Both Alfredo and Carbonara have this smooth velvety texture, but there are some differences between them. Alfredo sauce has that one-note buttery texture that is simple, yet deep at the same time.

Meanwhile, pancetta in the Carbonara sauce adds a slight crunch to Carbonara’s silky-smooth texture.

As for the flavor, we can say again that the pancetta is what makes the flavor of Alfredo and Carbonara sauce differs.

Pancetta gives the Carbonara sauce a unique and complex earthy flavor whereas Alfredo sauce gives us a milder, more delicate yet deep buttery flavor.

The pancetta also makes the Carbonara sauce has this dark pink flecks to it. And since Carbonara is made with egg yolks as one of its main ingredients, this sauce has a bolder yellow color compared to the Alfredo.

The Cooking Process

Alfredo sauce is generally the simpler one to make. After the pasta is ready, we need to sautee the garlic in butter before the heat is turned to its lowest setting. Add the heavy cream and stir it gently until the sauce thickens up.

Once it thickens, turn off the heat and add some additional ingredients like parsley and parmesan. Last, pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and toss it lightly until all of the pasta is covered with the sauce.

As for the Carbonara, the steps are somewhat similar, but it has more complexity to it. So after the pasta is ready, we need to sautee the pancetta and garlic in olive oil.

Then, whisk together the heavy cream, egg yolks, and shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. Add some ground black pepper before tossing together the pasta with the Carbonara sauce.

So, which one is your favorite sauce for your pasta? Let us know in the comment section down below!