Simple Dairy-Free Carbonara Recipe

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This dairy-free carbonara recipe is simple to make, covered in a creamy sauce and is a totally delicious option for dinner tonight.

Dairy-free carbonara can be made with many variations. I’ll list several healthy variations for you to get inspired. But no matter how you make it, it tastes all “cheesy” without a single ounce of cheese in it!

A closeup of a white pasta bowl filled with a pile of Dairy-Free Carbonara and garnished with fresh, chopped parsley.

What’s In Carbonara?

A true, authentic carbonara is similar to Alfredo sauce, but with one big difference. Alfredo sauce is made with copious amounts of heavy cream and butter. Carbonara sauce is made with eggs. And while traditional carbonara typically contains parmesan cheese, we’ll work around that here for a dairy-free version that is just as delicious and creamy as the traditional variety!

Should Carbonara Contain Cream?

Nope! At least not an authentic carbonara. If you add cream, you are getting into Alfredo sauce territory. They are both delicious, creamy sauces, but they are definitely different.

That being said, if you want to add cream or milk, nobody is going to stop you. You can use dairy-free milk such as unsweetened cashew milk or unsweetened oat milk.

How To Temper Eggs For Dairy-Free Carbonara Sauce

Tempering eggs is all about slowly combining the beaten eggs with very small amounts of hot water so that you slowly warm them up instead of cooking them instantly. Why do you do this? So that you end up with sauce instead of scrambled eggs!

What’s In Dairy-Free Carbonara?

The main difference here is that I’ll be using nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. The flavors are slightly different, but not overly so. They are a good substitute for each other! So, while you can certainly add grated parmesan cheese to this recipe if you wish, this recipe uses nutritional yeast instead to give you that nice, cheese flavor you expect from a sauce that typically includes parmesan.

A fork with Dairy-Free Carbonara on it lifted up out of a bowl.

What Does Carbonara Sauce Taste Like?

Carbonara is very similar in flavor to Alfredo sauce. However, it often has lemon added and also has other additions like vegetables and bacon or pancetta. So it will quickly take on those flavors as well.

Gluten-Free Carbonara

If you are gluten-free, the only thing you’ll need to change here is the pasta. Use gluten-free pasta and your set!

Vegan Carbonara

You could potentially turn this into a vegan recipe by using vegan egg substitutes. You can even use veganized parmesan cheese if you prefer that to nutritional yeast. A vegan version of this could also be made with cashew cream, but that’s a whole other recipe. Top with some peas and a bit of vegan bacon and you’re good to go!

What To Serve With Dair-Free Pasta Carbonara

You can treat a dish of carbonara very similarly to a dish of spaghetti when it comes to side dishes. The best sides to serve with carbonara are:

  • A baked or grilled chicken breast.
  • A green salad.
  • Crusty garlic bread.
  • A bowl of soup such as minestrone.

Dairy-Free Carbonara Recipe Variations

There are many ways to create variations with a carbonara recipe. Here are just a few additions to get your creative side going:

  • Bacon – chopped into small pieces and tossed witht the pasta
  • Peas
  • Carrots – Chop small
  • Collard greens – Chop small
  • Spinach – Baby spinach leaves work best, but regular works too
  • Kale – Lacinato kale (dino kale) works best
  • Asparagus
  • Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Bell peppers – Red peppers are best
  • Mushrooms – They are best if you sauté them
  • Pork – Cut it into small pieces
  • Tofu
  • Paprika
  • Extra garlic
  • Extra nutritional yeast
  • Liquid smoke
  • Soy sauce – In small amounts, this can really add a nice umami flavor.
A white bowl with Dairy-Free Carbonara that has been topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

Dairy-Free Carbonara Ingredients

1 lb. linguini pasta – You can use any pasta you like. The best pasta shape is either spaghetti or linguini. You can use whole grain pasta or gluten-free pasta or any pasta you usually use. Cook this to package directions in good, filtered water. The pasta is best cooked al dente, but you can cook it as long as you prefer.

3 large eggs

2 tbsp. lemon zest – This is approximately 2 lemons.

2 tbsp. lemon juice – You’ll probably get this amount or more from 2 lemons.

1 tbsp. garlic powder – Garlic granules work well here too.

1 tbsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. onion powder – Onion granules work too.

½ tsp. ground black pepper

2 tbsp. nutritional yeast – This is just a starting point. Add more to taste as you like.

Drinking water – This is to cook pasta in. You’ll be using some of the water in the recipe to make the sauce, so be sure it’s water you actually want to consume.

How To Make Dairy-Free Carbonara

Linguini noodles cooking in a pot of boiling water.

Set the pasta to cook in a large pot in salted water. Note that if you are using any frozen veggies, you can just boil and strain them with your pasta.

Carbonara sauce ingredients in a white bowl.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and spices. Whisk well to combine. Set it aside, but keep it close.

Ladling hot pasta water into a measuring cup for carbonara sauce.

When the pasta is done, reserve about 1 cup of the hot water and set it next to the pot so it’s handy to grab.

READ THESE NEXT STEPS ENTIRELY BEFORE PROCEEDING

These next steps are simple, but they have to happen quickly while the pasta is still hot. So grab a large wooden spoon and get ready to stir!

Straining water from pasta over a kitchen sink.

Drain your pasta and return it to the hot pot.

Pouring carbonara sauce over cooked pasta in a stainless steel pot.

Pour the eggs into the hot pasta and stir vigorously. Just as the eggs look like they are thickening into a sauce (less than a minute), pour in the hot pasta water, about a ¼ cup at a time, and continue stirring vigorously. You should see a nice, creamy sauce begin to form. If you do not use all the water, that’s okay. But don’t throw it away either. Set it aside. This pasta soaks up the water pretty quickly, so you may need more of it in a minute or two.

The finished, dairy-free carbonara served in a white pasta bowl and garnished with fresh parsley.

If you are adding other ingredients, stir them in now. Add any garnish you want, including salt and pepper, and serve.

Storing

Keep dairy-free carbonara in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

Freezing

It’s best not to freeze this. It won’t hold up well.

Reheating

You can reheat carbonara in a microwave or a pot.

  • Microwave – Heat in a microwave-safe dish for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, depending on how much you are reheating. To “loosen up” the sauce a bit, you can add about 1 tablespoon of hot water and stir it into the heated pasta.
  • Pot – Put the pasta in a saucepot and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Stir over medium heat until the pasta is heated through. (about 3-5 minutes)

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A white bowl with Dairy-Free Carbonara that has been topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

Dairy Free Carbonara Recipe

A delicious, creamy pasta dish. NOTE: Because some of you have asked, the yeast in this recipe is NOT the same thing as the yeast you use in bread. There is a big difference. You can get nutritional yeast at most health food stores.
No ratings yet
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings (approximately)
Calories: 238kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pasta (Any type and shape. I used chickpea-based linguini)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (This is just a starting point. Add more to taste)
  • drinking water (to cook pasta in. You'll be using some of the water in the recipe, so be sure it's water you actually want to consume.)

Instructions

  • Set the pasta to cook in a large pot in salted water. Note that if you are using any frozen veggies, you can just boil and strain them with your pasta.
    Linguini noodles cooking in a pot of boiling water.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and spices. Whisk well to combine. Set it aside, but keep it close.
    Carbonara sauce ingredients in a white bowl.
  • When the pasta is done, scoop out about 1 cup of the hot water and set it next to the pot so it's handy to grab.
    Ladling hot pasta water into a measuring cup for carbonara sauce.
  • These next steps are simple, but they have to happen quickly while the pasta is still hot. So grab a large wooden spoon and get ready to stir!
    Drain your pasta and return it to the hot pot.
    Straining water from pasta over a kitchen sink.
  • Pour the eggs into the hot pasta and stir vigorously. Just as the eggs look like they are thickening into a sauce (less than a minute), pour in the hot pasta water, about a ¼ cup at a time, and continue stirring vigorously. You should see a nice, creamy sauce begin to form. If you do not use all the water, that's okay. But don't throw it away either. Set it aside. This pasta soaks up the water pretty quickly, so you may need more of it in a minute or two.
    Pouring carbonara sauce over cooked pasta in a stainless steel pot.
  • If you are adding other ingredients, stir them in now. Add any garnish you want, including salt and pepper, and serve.
    The finished, dairy-free carbonara served in a white pasta bowl and garnished with fresh parsley.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 108IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 3mg
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2 Comments

  1. Hi Tiffany! Did you use powder or flakes for the nutritional yeast?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Holly – They were the flakes. I’ve never seen powder.

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