Lemony Spaghetti with Crab and Tarragon

I’m not going to call this a carbonara because I don’t have a death wish, BUT you do make the creamy lemony sauce by tempering eggs with parmesan and pasta water… so I guess we can settle on carbonara-esque. I wanted to put the flavors of crab and hollandaise into pasta form, and thus this baby was born! Don’t be fooled by the picture, she is MUCH creamier in person. 


  • You will need a large heat proof metal bowl that will fit snugly on top of whatever pot you choose to boil your pasta. I stole this double-boiler carbonara method from serious eats, and you can check out the full details here
  • Without the salty guanciale of a traditional carbonara, you will need to add a good amount of salt throughout the cooking process. 
  • Can’t find cooked crab meat? Or it’s not in your budget? Sub sauteed chopped shrimp in a pinch.

Serves 3-4

  • 2 eggs + 3 yolks, room temp
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • Lots of black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup tarragon, minced
  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • ½+ cups reserved pasta water
  • ½ pound fresh cooked crab meat
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  2. In a large, heat proof metal bowl, whisk the eggs well. Add the parmesan and black pepper and whisk to combine. 
  3. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
  4. Add the shallots and saute for about 5 minutes. 
  5. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the tarragon and saute for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. 
  6. Cook the pasta until al dente.
  7. Using tongs, transfer spaghetti to the saute pan with the shallots and garlic. Do not drain the pasta water and keep the water at a simmer. 
  8. Turn the heat on medium and saute for a couple of minutes, using the tongs to intersperse the garlic, shallots, and tarragon into the pasta. Season generously with salt. 
  9. Add the pasta mixture to the egg bowl along with ½ cup pasta water and use the tongs to vigorously combine. 
  10. Place the bowl on top of the pasta water pot, creating a double boiler. Continue to stir and toss until the mixture thickens and a silky sauce coats each strand. Add more pasta water if necessary. 
  11. Add the crab, lemon juice, and lemon zest and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 
  12. Top with additional parmesan and serve.