Our meat-free twist on a classic carbonara swaps bacon for golden mushrooms for a creamy pasta dish, that is a little bit lighter. Just 6 ingredients and only 15 minutes in the kitchen and you have all the creamy flavour of a carbonara, but with slices of mixed mushrooms. Something a little different for pasta night.
We love a carbonara, but when we want to eat more meat free meal, the first swap we make is to include more mushrooms in our meals. They have a real meaty texture, and by using a selection of different mushrooms, you get so many different flavours and textures, it is a real taste sensation.
This recipe still has the delicious silky smooth sauce that you know and love from a carbonara, by using eggs and parmesan, but we swapped the bacon for mushrooms. It's such an easy swap and still really filling and hearty.
If you are looking for more ways to include mushrooms in your meals, why not try our Mushroom Sandwich, Spinach and Mushroom Gnocchi, Creamy Mushrooms on Toast or Mushroom and Spinach Risotto.
Why you will love it
- A meat free alternative - If you love a classic carbonara, then this is a tasty meat free version as it swaps bacon for mushrooms.
- Quick - This is ready in less than 15 minutes, and can be even quicker if you use fresh pasta.
- A new way to eat mushrooms - Love mushrooms but looking for new ways to eat them? This is a good place to start.
- Adaptable - You can use this as a base recipe and then adapt it to suit your own tastes. We love stirring in some spinach for a green vegetable boost.
- Pasta - Spaghetti is traditionally used in a carbonara, but you could use any pasta.
- Mushrooms - The star of the dish. We used a mixture of mushrooms like oyster, shiitake and chestnut, as it gives it a lovely mixture of textures. However, you could use any mushrooms you like.
- Eggs - These are the key ingredient for the delicious carbonara sauce, with the yolks providing that rich creaminess
- Cheese - We used Parmesan, however another Italian hard cheese will work. Try to freshly grate it, as you will get a much stronger flavour than if you used a bag of pre-grated cheese.
- Garlic - This isn't a really garlicky recipe, as traditionally a carbonara wouldn't have a lot of garlic in it. However, you could add more if you wanted to.
- Butter - This is what the mushrooms are cooked in, and helps them to get lovely and golden brown.
- Pasta water - This is our "secret" ingredient in every pasta dish and something that every Italian uses in their cooking. Adding a little bit of the starchy pasta water makes the sauce really silky smooth and cling to the pasta. It also loosens the sauce up a little, helping it go further.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make mushroom carbonara - Step by step
One: Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Two: Mix together the grated Parmesan and the eggs. Set aside.
Three: Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are golden, about 4 minutes.
Four: Remove 75ml/0.33 cup of pasta water from the pan.
Five: Drain the spaghetti and add to the mushrooms with the reserved pasta water. Add the Parmesan/egg mix and stir through until everything is coated.
Health benefits of mushrooms
Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, and are actually one of the only non-animal sources of the vitamin. Whether grown inside or outside, they are exposed to UV light which increases their concentration of vitamin D.
Mushroom Carbonara can be low in calories and carbs and make a nice light meal when served with a big salad. Mushrooms are really nutritious too and a great source of B vitamins and potassium. Just be careful with how much cheese you load on top of this.
What to serve it with
Everyone know that garlic bread and pasta are a match made in heaven. Carby heaven! Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad.
If you want to add a big side of vegetables, then we recommend our Roasted Tenderstem Broccoli, Garlic Green Beans, Air Fryer Carrots, or Roasted Lemon Asparagus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pasta dishes can definitely be part of a healthy and balanced diet, but portion control is key. Swap the white pasta for wholegrain spaghetti and add some leafy greens for a nutrient boost. You can also use reduced fat cheese, but it will give the sauce a different texture and it won't be as creamy.
Adding starchy pasta water (just 100ml is enough) to a fat like butter will create an emulsion and this gives a really silky smooth sauce and helps it cling to the pasta. Make sure you scoop out the water just before draining, as this ensures that it is nice and starchy.
If you have leftovers, then you can store it in an air tight container in the fridge until the next day.
No, we wouldn't recommend freezing this carbonara because it has a strange texture once defrosted.
You can reheat this in a frying pan on a low heat. Add a splash of full fat milk to the pan to loosen it up.
If you use your favourite gluten free pasta and make sure that there is no cross contamination, then this is a delicious gluten free meal.
Carbonara traditionally uses spaghetti, however this sauce recipe can be used with any pasta and we have used penne, fusilli and macaroni (which kids love) in the past.
• When using Parmesan, try to grate it fresh rather than using a bag of pre-grated cheese, as you will have a much stronger flavour.
• Make sure you stir the egg and cheese mixture into the pasta OFF the heat, otherwise the eggs will scramble. Don't worry, the heat from the cooked pasta will ensure the eggs are cooked through in the sauce.
• Don't forget to take some water out of the spaghetti pan before you drain it as this will make such a difference to your sauce. If you do forget, just boil some water in the kettle and add that.
• You could keep the bacon in, like a traditional carbonara, and use mushrooms too, but we wanted this to be a meat-free recipe. Because it doesn't have bacon in it, you do need to season it well to make up for not having the saltiness from the bacon.
• To make this mushroom carbonara even quicker, use some fresh pasta which is ready in a few minutes.
• If you like your food spicy, then add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes on top before serving.
• Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
• Serve with extra Parmesan, fresh parsley and cracked black pepper if you like.
More pasta recipes
If you’ve tried this vegetarian carbonara, let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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- 140 g (5 oz) Spaghetti
- 300 g (11 oz) Mixed mushrooms - sliced
- 2 Garlic clove - crushed
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 50 g (0.5 cups) Parmesan - grated
- 2 Eggs
- Cook 140 g Spaghetti according to the packet instructions.
- Mix together 50 g Parmesan and 2 Eggs. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoon Butter in a frying pan and add 2 Garlic clove and 300 g Mixed mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are golden, about 4 minutes.
- Remove 75ml/0.33 cup of pasta water from the pan.
- Drain the spaghetti and add to the mushrooms with the reserved pasta water. Add the Parmesan/egg mix and stir through until everything is coated.
- When using parmesan, try to grate it fresh rather than using a bag of pre-grated cheese, as you will have a much stronger flavour.
- Make sure you stir the egg and cheese mixture in to the pasta OFF the heat, otherwise the eggs will scramble. Don't worry, the heat from the cooked pasta will ensure the eggs are cooked through in the sauce.
- Don't forget to take some water out of the spaghetti pan before you drain it as this will make such a difference to your sauce. If you do forget, just boil some water in the kettle and add that.
- You could keep the bacon in, like a traditional carbonara, and use mushrooms too, but we wanted this to be a meat-free recipe. Because it doesn't have bacon in it, you do need to season it well to make up for not having the saltiness from the bacon.
- To make this mushroom carbonara even quicker, use some fresh pasta which is ready in a few minutes.
- If you like your food spicy, then add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes on top before serving.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
- Serve with extra Parmesan, fresh parsley and cracked black pepper if you like.
Such a simple and delicious recipe! Love the mushrooms!
This mushroom carbonara is a simple dish to make but is so hearty and filling. Delicious!
I love mushrooms and this recipe was so simple and easy to make! YUM. Thanks for sharing!
This pasta looks so rich and wonderful! I absolutely love mushrooms so I'm so excited to try this out, thanks for posting!
As a big mushroom fan this recipe was everything! Beyond delicious and will definitely be making again!
Carbonara with mushrooms? What a perfect dinner idea. My boys will love this. I'm making this tonight.
I can't believe this is a vegetarian dish made with just a handful of simple ingredients! It looks incredibly delicious!
Big fan of carbonara and mushrooms which makes this pasta dish perfect for my family. Can't wait to taste this.
Love all the ingrea dients, can’t wait to try this! It looks so delicious and easy!
LOVE that you used mushrooms in place of the bacon. They're so savory and full of flavor - love it so!
Butter, garlic and mushrooms is one of my favourite combinations, so having it in a pasta ticks all the boxes for me! So good for dinner but also packed as a work or school lunch.
I adore mushrooms AND carbonara so this is a winner for me!
We are big mushroom fans, and this pasta dish will be on repeat in our household! It is the perfect meat-free meal.
One of my kids went Ooo seeing the images. Now I am sure we will be grocery shopping tomorrow morning for this. looks so yum!
Simply delicious! I loved the mushroom twist!