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This vegetarian carbonara with smoky mushrooms is the ultimate comfort dish for a quick weeknight dinner! It’s a great vegetarian alternative to classic spaghetti carbonara without sacrificing flavor! With smoky mushrooms, creamy carbonara sauce, and cheese!

vegetarian carbonara with mushrooms in a pasta bowl
Table of Contents

Spaghetti Carbonara – who doesn’t love this Italian classic? Creamy, delicious, and packed with flavor. One of the most beloved Italian pasta dishes. Today, I’m going to show you how to make the vegetarian mushroom carbonara version of it at home!

Classic carbonara contains bacon or pancetta, which provides flavor and a smoky taste. In this recipe, gone is the bacon – but don’t worry, you won’t miss it! Instead, it’s replaced by mushrooms in a delicious sauce with a dash of liquid smoke. This provides the classic smoky flavor in this meatless mushroom carbonara! 

vegetarian spaghetti carbonara with mushrooms in a pasta bowl

If you don’t like mushrooms, you could also use small diced smoked tofu here. Or you could use a vegan bacon alternative from the supermarket. 

Cooking spaghetti carbonara vegetarian is easy, quick, and perfect for a weeknight meal. If you like this recipe, feel free to try my Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe – no egg or cheese, but with an extra creamy cashew sauce! If you love extra veggies, go for this Asparagus Carbonara.

Liquid smoke is an ingredient that is very popular in vegan cooking. You can use it to imitate the smoky flavor. Perfect for making tofu bacon or carrot lox.

Mushroom carbonara in a pasta bowl

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy & Quick to Prepare – Vegetarian Spaghetti Carbonara is quick and easy to prepare! Perfect for an effortless weeknight meal!
  • Full of Flavor & Texture – You can look forward to an extra tasty pasta dish with smoky mushrooms and creamy sauce.
  • Meatless – A satisfying dish for vegetarians & flexitarians. Also, a great recipe if you’d like to try more vegetarian meals.

🛒 Ingredients

See recipe card for quantities.

Vegetarian Carbonara Ingredients
  • Spaghetti → As the name Spaghetti Carbonara already suggests, this recipe is classically prepared with spaghetti. If you like, you can also use fettuccine for a change. For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free spaghetti (I recommend Barillas).
  • Eggs → If possible, use fresh organic eggs. Give the carbonara its classic flavor.
  • Heavy Cream → To make the sauce a little creamier! I love to use plant-based heavy cream made from oats or soy!
  • Parmesan (optional) → What’s pasta without cheese? Feel free to use Pecorino or any other grated vegetarian cheese.
  • Salt, Black Pepper, Ground Nutmeg → To taste!
  • Mushrooms → To make the carbonara vegetarian, you need a meatless alternative to bacon! I like to use cremini mushrooms. Feel free to go for king oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, or portobello mushrooms. Alternatively, you can use smoked tofu.
  • Liquid Smoke → For that smoky touch!
  • Onion, Garlic Cloves, Soy Sauce, Maple Syrup, Dijon Mustard, Smoked Paprika, Oil → To make the mushrooms extra flavorful so no one misses the bacon. 
  • Chives → Fresh herbs for decoration. Feel free to swap with parsley.

Note: The original carbonara recipe is made with eggs or egg yolks, and doesn’t contain cream. However, I like to add a splash of cream. It makes for an even creamier sauce and is easier to handle. If you prefer the classic vegetarian carbonara recipe, substitute it with 2-4 tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water.

🧀 Facts About Parmesan cheese

Unfortunately, Parmesan is not vegetarian because calves’ stomach (called rennet) is used to make it. However, from my experience, many vegetarians eat it anyway because it is OK for them, or they are just not aware of that fact. 🤷‍♀️

However, this decision is up to you. If you prefer not to eat Parmesan, you can go for a version made with microbial rennet. The vegetarian Parmesan alternative is called Montello. 

Honestly, though, I’ve never spotted Montello in a supermarket. You might have luck ordering it online. Alternatively, there are other hard cheeses that are made with microbial rennet (made in the lab). Ask at your supermarket or check online if they have a list of all cheeses made with microbial rennet.

🔪 Visual Step-by-Step Instructions

This visual step-by-step instruction will help you along the way – definitely recommended if you’re a cooking beginner! → Watch the recipe video to see how easy it is to make at home! 🤓

  • Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salt water until al dente (check cooking time on the package label!). Drain spaghetti over a colander.
  • Smoky Mushrooms: Heat a frying pan with oil. Sauté onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
  • Add sliced mushrooms, and fry on medium-high heat for another 5 minutes.
  • Mix soy sauce, liquid smoke, mustard, and paprika in a small bowl and add it to the mushrooms. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms have fully absorbed the sauce. 
Vegetarian Carbonara Recipe Step 1-4
  • Add spaghetti and stir well.
  • Carbonara Sauce: Mix eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 
  • Remove the skillet from the heat, add carbonara sauce, and stir for one minute until the egg mixture has thickened slightly.  → The residual heat should be enough here. After all, if it gets too hot, the eggs will start to set. 
  • Serve with fresh chives and season to taste with salt & pepper! Feel free to add a splash of lemon juice or lemon zest for a freshness kick.
Vegetarian Carbonara Recipe Step 5-7

🫙 Storage & Reheating Instructions

Vegetarian spaghetti carbonara tastes best when freshly cooked. Unfortunately, if leftovers are reheated, the egg mixture won’t be as silky smooth as when freshly served.

Nevertheless, sometimes leftovers are inevitable. Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to one day. 

Reheat the whole dish, or a portion of it, in a microwave-safe container in the microwave or a frying pan with some water!

If you make this recipe, I’d love for you to give it a star rating ★ below. 

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📖 Recipe

vegetarian carbonara with mushrooms in a pasta bowl

Vegetarian Carbonara with Mushrooms

This vegetarian carbonara with smoky mushrooms is the ultimate comfort dish for a quick weeknight dinner! It's a great vegetarian alternative to classic spaghetti carbonara without sacrificing flavor! With smoky mushrooms, creamy carbonara sauce, and cheese!
Author : Aline Cueni
5 from 2 votes

Click on the stars to leave a vote!

Prep Time :5 minutes
Cook Time :15 minutes
Total Time :20 minutes
Servings : 2
Calories : 578kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 7 oz (200 g) spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp chives chopped, or parsley

Smoked Mushrooms

Carbonara Sauce

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (40 g) grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salt water until al dente (check cooking time on the package label!). Drain spaghetti over a colander.
  • Smoky Mushrooms: Heat a frying pan with oil. Sauté onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
  • Add sliced mushrooms, and fry on medium-high heat for another 5 minutes.
  • Mix soy sauce, liquid smoke, mustard, and paprika in a small bowl and add it to the mushrooms. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms have fully absorbed the sauce. 
  • Add cooked spaghetti and stir well.
  • Carbonara Sauce: Mix eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. 
  • Remove the skillet from the heat, add carbonara sauce, and stir for one minute until the egg mixture has thickened slightly.  → The residual heat should be enough here. After all, if it gets too hot, the eggs will start to set. 
  • Serve with fresh chives and season to taste with salt & pepper! Feel free to add a splash of lemon juice or lemon zest for a freshness kick.

Notes

Mushrooms: I like to use cremini mushrooms. Feel free to use king oyster, shiitake, or portobello mushrooms.
Leftovers: Vegetarian spaghetti carbonara tastes best when freshly cooked. Unfortunately, if leftovers are reheated, the egg mixture won’t be as silky smooth as when freshly served. Nevertheless, if you have leftovers, store them for up to one day in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat them with s splash of water in a skillet.
Note: The original carbonara recipe is made with eggs or egg yolks, and doesn’t contain cream. However, I like to add a splash of cream. It makes for an even creamier sauce and is easier to handle. If you prefer the classic vegetarian carbonara recipe, substitute it with 2-4 tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water.

Nutrition

Calories: 578kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 491mg | Potassium: 685mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 292mg | Iron: 3mg

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Recipe Rating




5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It’s the first vegetarian carbonara which really tastes like carbonara with bacon 🙂 I used some season salt with smoke flavour instead of the liquid smoke. Thank you.

    1. Dear Corinne, I am delighted to hear that you like my recipe. The smoky mushrooms perfectly substitute the bacon flavor, and they are very nutritious too. Using salt with a smoke flavor sounds like a great alternative to me if you don’t have the liquid smoke at home (it’s sometimes hard to find it in a supermarket). Thank you for your honest comment Corinne ?
      All the best,
      Aline

  2. Thank you for this recipe! It’s the first vegetarian carbonara which really tastes like carbonara 🙂 I used some season salt with smoke flavour instead of the liquid smoke.