Our easy and quick vegan carbonara is the perfect pasta recipe If you're on the hunt for a creamy, mouthwatering pasta dish that you can whip up in just 15 minutes or less. To make this plant-based carbonara, we only use easy-to-find ingredients you will probably already have on hand.
What makes our Vegan Carbonara Easy and Delicious?
You can use various ingredients to make your vegan carbonara sauce. There are plenty of elements that can give you a creamy texture that resembles the traditional carbonara sauce. For our recipe, we chose to use oat cream. Oat cream is easy to find in most supermarkets and comes already prepared to add to the dish, simplifying the whole cooking process easier.
For our Vegan Pancetta, we use tofu, which is another ingredient that is widely available and budget-friendly. Tofu is easy to marinate to get that smoky flavor using just 4 common seasoning elements: soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.
The other ingredients we add to prepare the vegan carbonara sauce are yeast flakes, black pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. You don't need ingredients such as kala namak aka black salt or miso paste to make our tasty recipe.
This recipe is well-tested. Way before publishing it to our blog, it was a recipe that we make very often for our family. Both our kids love it and we as well, love the taste and simplicity of it.
Our Vegan Carbonara is:
- An Italian-style recipe
- A family favorite
- Quick to make
- Easy to prepare
- Family-friendly (our kids love it)
- A recipe that can be made gluten-free
How to make our Easy Vegan Carbonara Spaghetti
Tofu. We use firm or extra-firm tofu to make our Vegan Pancetta. Other ingredients such as coconut chips, seitan, tempeh, soy curls, texturized soy, or already-bought vegan bacon can be used. We choose to use tofu because is widely available, cheap, and really easy to marinate and cook.
Soy sauce. Use tamari for a gluten-free option.
Spices. To flavor our tofu to taste smoky and resemble pancetta or bacon, we use garlic powder and smoked paprika. You can add other condiments such as onion powder, or even liquid smoke, but with these two simple ingredients, we think that the tofu gets the taste that you are looking for when using it as a plant-based alternative to bacon.
Maple Syrup. We use some maple syrup to add a little sweetness to the tofu marinade. You can use sugar, or another sweetener of your choice.
Vegan Carbonara Sauce
Shallots. Using shallots gives a nice sweet touch to the sauce, but you can also use yellow onions which are similar to shallots, white onion, or even red onion. Another option is to use leek.
Garlic. This is optional, but a few garlic cloves gives your pasta sauce a delicious taste.
Black pepper. A really important ingredient when it comes to Carbonara. Crushed black pepper gives this sauce the perfect punch.
Oat cream. Oat cream has the right texture for your vegan carbonara. We've tried making this recipe using different options such as soy cream, cashew cream made by blending presoaked cashews, coconut milk, and even silken tofu, but our top choice was oat cream. The taste and texture are simply perfect for this dish. If you want to use oat milk for this dish, you can use it. Maybe you will need to thicken the sauce with some flour.
Yeast flakes. The traditional carbonara sauce is served with parmesan, and to add some of that cheesy and umami flavor to our sauce, we use yeast flakes or nutritional yeast. If you need to substitute this ingredient, we have some vegan alternatives for nutritional yeast that can help you.
Lemon juice. Fresh lemon juice adds some acidity and enhances the flavor of the rest of the ingredients. You can alternatively, use apple cider vinegar.
Olive oil. Carbonara sauce is a fatty sauce, and to recreate that, we like adding some extra virgin olive oil to our sauce. You can use another type of vegetable fat such as vegan butter, coconut oil, or avocado oil.
Best Pasta shape for Carbonara
According to Taste Of Home, the best pasta shape for Carbonara is Bucatini. Bucatini is really similar to Spaghetti, but like a straw, runs a hole through the middle. It allows the sauce to go inside this hole, making every bite more delicious.
For this recipe, we use Spaghetti, as Bucatini can be a bit challenging to find if you are outside of Italy. Feel free to use other pasta shapes to your preference.
- Cut the tofu block into small pieces. We like cutting the tofu into small strips that resemble pancetta pieces, but you can cut the block to your preference. Place the cut tofu in a bowl and add the soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and maple syrup. Combine until all the tofu is well coated.
- Stir-fry the tofu using a non-stick pan until golden brown and reserve.
Vegan Carbonara Sauce
- Heat some oil or vegan butter in a frying pan and sautée the onion and garlic. You can cut them into smaller or bigger pieces, it doesn’t matter as they will be blended with the rest of the ingredients later. Add ground black pepper and sautée for 1-2 more minutes.
- Transfer the onion and garlic to a blender jug. Add the oat cream, yeast flakes, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and blend until you have a smooth creamy sauce.
- Cook the pasta al dente following the package instructions. For this recipe, we used spaghetti, but you can choose another pasta shape.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain the water (save some for later), add some olive oil so it doesn’t stick, and transfer to a big pan. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta, and add the vegan pancetta. Combine well. At this point, you can add some of the reserved pasta water if you want a creamier sauce.
Variations to our Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara
- Make it gluten-free. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, you need to make sure the yeast flakes and oat cream are gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce, and use gluten-free pasta. You can use legume-based pasta, brown rice pasta, or regular gluten-free pasta.
- Add mushrooms. We have a very similar pasta dish using mushrooms instead of vegan pancetta, but you can combine both recipes to make a delicious creamy pasta dish. We like shiitake mushrooms for this dish, but button mushrooms, or cremini mushrooms are great options too.
- Use another type of cream. You can use soy cream, cashew cream, coconut cream, or even blended silken tofu like we use for our Spinach Creamy Pasta.
- Change the Vegan Pancetta. Using tofu as the vegan pancetta is just an easy and delicious way to recreate the meat in this dish. Other vegan alternatives could be tempeh, soy curls, TVP, coconut bacon, or store-bought vegan bacon.
Our Creamy Vegan Carbonara Recipe is a hearty meal that doesn't need much to make for a complete and satisfying meal, but we have some favorite additions when it comes to serving this dish:
Garlic bread. You can serve this pasta dish with our delicious Vegan Garlic Bread to make sure you can get all those last bits of sauce.
Vegan Parmesan. Did you know you can make your own vegan parmesan in less than 2 minutes? We love this recipe from Minimalist Baker. All you need to do is blend some cashews, yeast flakes, and garlic powder together, to create this beautiful blend that tastes just like parm!
Kalamata Olives. Serve some black Kalamata olives on the side, they add some saltiness to your meal, and they taste real good.
Fresh herbs. Don't forget to add some fresh herbs before serving the dish. Our favorite are fresh basil or fresh parsley.
If you enjoy spicy food, consider adding some chili oil or red pepper flakes.
Additionally, you can add a refreshing salad to balance out the flavors and textures. A simple salad with colorful vegetables will make an excellent companion to this veggie carbonara.
Store and Reheat
If you have some Vegan Carbonara leftovers, you can keep them in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
When reheating, you can add some extra plant-based cream, milk, or a splash of water, to get that creamy texture back. You can reheat the dish by using a pan or microwave.
We personally prefer to heat this meal using a pan and add a little bit of soy milk which we normally have in the fridge until it gets the same texture as freshly made.
FAQ and Tips
Can I substitute oat cream with a different type of non-dairy milk or cream?
Absolutely! While oat cream is our preference for this recipe, you can experiment with other non-dairy options like almond, soy, or coconut milk. Just keep in mind that it might alter the flavor and consistency slightly.
I can't find yeast flakes; can I omit them or use a replacement?
If you can't find yeast flakes, you can omit them from the recipe. They add a subtle cheesy flavor, but your carbonara sauce will still be delicious without them.
What kind of tofu should I use for the Vegan Pancetta?
Extra-firm tofu works best for the Vegan Pancetta. Pressing the tofu beforehand to remove excess moisture is recommended as it helps the tofu absorb the marinade and develop a firmer texture.
How much sauce does this recipe make?
This recipe makes enough sauce for about 2-3 portions of pasta. You can double the ingredients to make a larger amount of sauce.
Ingredients for the vegan Pancetta
- 200 g Tofu
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup optional
Ingredients for Vegan Carbonara Sauce
- 2 shallot or 1 yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 250 ml oat Cream
- ¼ cup yeast flakes
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 250 g spaghetti
- Cut the tofu block into small pieces. We like cutting the tofu into small strips that resemble pancetta pieces, but you can cut the block to your preference.
- Place the cut tofu in a bowl and add the soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and maple syrup. Combine until all the tofu is well coated.
- Stir-fry the tofu using a non-stick pan until golden brown and reserve.
- Heat some oil or vegan butter in a frying pan and sautée the onion and garlic. You can cut them into smaller or bigger pieces, it doesn’t matter as they will be blended with the rest of the ingredients later.
- Pour the sauce over the pasta, and add the vegan pancetta. Combine well. At this point, you can add some of the reserved pasta water if you want a creamier sauce.
- Add some more back pepper and salt to taste. Serve with vegan parmesan, and enjoy.
If you tried our recipe, please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram @Sixhungryfeet. We are always happy to see your creations!