Vegan Carbonara in the Cosmo Pan

Easy Vegan Carbonara With Smoky Tofu Bacon Recipe

Quick And Easy Vegan Carbonara Recipe That Will Impress Even Your Non-Vegan Guests

Looking for delicious vegan recipes that will impress your vegan friends and family for an upcoming dinner but you're strapped for time? Then you'll definitely want to try this quick and easy vegan carbonara recipe by our Cosmic Cookware ambassador, @sezzy.brown!

All you need are ingredients that can easily be found in your nearest local supermarkets, and the best part? It takes less than an hour to whip up a deliciously creamy and generous serving.

Besides, this vegan carbonara is also packed with protein and flavour, which will very quickly become your guests' favourite dish of the night. Trust me, everyone will be shocked when you tell them this is a vegan dish!

Make this recipe once, and you will find yourself preparing this carbonara recipe all the time until you don't even need to review the recipe.

But before that, let's check out a few questions we often get for the Vegan Carbonara recipe jumping into the good stuff!

Sezzy Brown with the Cosmo Fry, Cosmo Casserole, and Cosmo Pan cooking Vegan Carbonara.

Can I Use Vegan Parmesan In This Recipe For The Creamy Sauce?

Thanks to the versatility of this great recipe, you can use ready-made vegan parmesan in this easy vegan carbonara recipe if you're not too keen on making your own vegan parmesan from scratch with nutritional yeast.

For that extra cheesiness and protein, sprinkle an extra dose vegan parmesan cheese on the vegan carbonara before serving the dish to your friends and family.

What Is A Traditional Carbonara Sauce?

You'd be surprised to know that no cream is involved in a traditional carbonara sauce. When cream is involved in a carbonara sauce, it might make the carbonara feel very heavy. Which explains why some may get a little bloated after indulging in a whole carbonara dish - it's the lactose from the cream sauce, and most of us in Singapore are often lactose-intolerant despite our love for dairy!

In fact, a classic carbonara sauce is usually made out of these essentials; Pecorino Romano cheese, eggs, black pepper, and gianicale or pancetta (cured pork, essentially).

You might also be thinking: wouldn't the carbonara sauce be more like an egg sauce?

Well, once done correctly, you shouldn't taste any of the eggy flavor you might be worried about. It will be a heavenly type of creamy - think light yet creamy without a dense heavy eggy flavor on your tastebuds!

Making a traditional carbonara sauce is easy. You'll first need to whisk the eggs together with the Pecorino Romano cheese in a bowl. But do note that your raw eggs must be at room temperature to prevent your carbonara sauce from turning into scrambled eggs!

Always take the pan off the heat before coating the cooked spaghetti with some pasta water. The pasta water gives the cooked pasta extra silkiness while reducing some of the heat from the pan. 

If it's too hot, you might end up cooking the egg in a hot pan, which results in crumbly pieces of egg. 

Later, pour the cheesy egg mixture over the pan of al dente pasta with pasta water and gently whisk until the sauce thickens.

Now that you know the fundamentals of making traditional carbonara sauce, you'll notice that the same technique will be applied very closely to our vegan carbonara recipe. It's always best to know the source before attempting an alternative version of the recipe!

Traditional carbonara on a plate. Photo by Klaus Nielsen.

What Makes The Vegan Carbonara Sauce Creamy?

So, what makes the vegan version of our recipe's carbonara sauce creamy?

The soaked raw cashews may not seem much, but they are the main ingredient of the vegan carbonara sauce. Cashews give off the creaminess one looks for in a carbonara sauce. 

Additionally, nutritional yeast is another common vegan staple that provides more cheesiness to this vegan carbonara pasta.

Soy milk also contributes to the tastiness and creaminess of this recipe. If you can't find soy milk, feel free to substitute it with oat milk.

Want a little more kick to your vegan carbonara sauce? You can even add a little lemon juice or Dijon mustard to the ingredients before blending into a smooth sauce.

What Is Vegan Carbonara Made Of?

To make vegan carbonara, it includes a vegan sauce, pasta, and a plant-based meat substitute, served with a garnish of chopped parsley or fresh basil.

The "cream sauce" is typically made from a blended combination of cashews, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, and pasta water. The pasta water will thicken the sauce, which will help the sauce to stick to the pasta more. The combination of cashews, nutritional yeast, and non-dairy milk will mimic the creaminess found in a traditional carbonara.

In this recipe, after you've cooked the pasta in a large pot or Cosmo Casserole of salted boiling water, add the drained pasta and carbonara sauce into the Cosmo Pan and combine over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Once well combined, serve your vegan carbonara with tofu bacon and your preferred garnishes. Some ideas for garnishes are chopped parsley, fresh basil, vegan parmesan, and smoked paprika.

Cooking gluten-free macaroni in the ceramic non-stick Cosmo Pan.

What Substitutes Can I Use In This Recipe?

If you have gluten intolerance, gluten-free pasta will work perfectly with vegan carbonara. Besides, some variations of gluten-free pasta do have lower nutrition calories than regular pasta.

This is great news for anyone with a cashew allergy! You'd be surprised to know that raw sunflower seeds are an excellent substitute for cashews. 

For another cashew substitute, silken tofu is a good alternative to add silkiness to your vegan carbonara.

If you don't have liquid smoke, you can use smoked paprika. However, this may change the colour of the pasta. You may even use smoked paprika as a garnish at the end.

Traditionally, people would prepare spaghetti carbonara. However, feel free to use other pasta types, such as tagliatelle and rigatoni!

Cooking mushrooms as a vegan alternative to bacon in the ceramic non-stick Cosmo Pan.

What Can I Use Instead Of Meat In Carbonara?

Your vegan spaghetti carbonara can taste just as amazing without meat! Tons of vegan-friendly substitutes are at your disposal to serve with vegan pasta. While none of these are anything close to tasting exactly like bacon, they will delight your guests - vegans and meat lovers alike.

Tofu As An Alternative To Meat

As per this recipe, tofu is an excellent form of vegan bacon to add protein to the carbonara. This recipe takes extra firm tofu and transforms it into a vegan equivalent of bacon with beetroot juice to give it bacon's natural earthy redness, liquid smoke to complete bacon's typical smokiness, and vegan chicken stock to give it a deeper savoury flavour.

Another firm tofu alternative would be fried tempeh. It's an absolutely delicious vegan bacon alternative that serves as a great substitute for meat because it has a delightfully mild smokey flavour once deep fried with turmeric, and a crispy texture that adds depth into the vegan carbonara pasta dish.

Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms. Photo by Jessica and Lon Binder.


Mushrooms typically do not have a crispy texture but it has a firm, "meaty" texture. Even though it naturally lacks crisp, you can easily remedy that by grilling or searing the mushrooms until its exterior is crisp. You can do so by evenly coating your sliced mushrooms in soy sauce, oil, liquid smoke, and maple syrup before frying over medium-high heat or baking them until golden brown.

The best mushrooms for this recipe include firm and meaty mushrooms like the king oyster mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, or shiitake mushrooms as a more affordable alternative.

Grilled chickpeas, a good protein alternative to bacon. Photo by Dimitri.Photography.

Legumes Like Chickpeas

For a more interesting substitute, why not consider using chickpeas? While it's nothing close to meat texture, crunchy chickpeas are a nice contrast that goes well with vegan carbonara. Season the drained chickpeas with your favourite seasonings (smoked paprika, olive oil, liquid smoke, etc.) evenly, and roast the seasoned chickpeas in the oven until crispy.

Carrots. Yes, Carrots Are Also Fantastic "Bacon" Alternatives!

If you want to add more fibre, carrot "bacon" is a fine addition to your carbonara as an easy vegan pancetta alternative. Use a wide peeler to peel the carrots into strips. Marinate the carrot strips in tahini, liquid smoke, black pepper, maple syrup, and dark soy sauce for at least 15 minutes or more. Then, bake the marinated carrot strips in the oven until they are crispy.

Sun-dried tomatoes are also another cool way to serve with your vegan carbonara, which can usually be found packed in a jar at your nearest grocery store. While you can also prepare your own batch of sun-dried tomatoes, it will take some time and patience!

How Do I Make Tofu Bacon?

Slice the extra firm tofu into small cubes. Then, toss the tofu pieces in a bowl with liquid smoke, vegan chicken stock powder, sea salt flakes, olive oil, and beetroot juice to marinate for 30 minutes. The beetroot juice is used mainly to give the tofu pancetta some colour.

After 30 minutes, add the marinated tofu to the Cosmo Pan and fry until the marinade has evaporated and the tofu becomes slightly crispy.

If you want to get more water out of the extra firm tofu, you can use a tofu press for at least 20 to 30 minutes before slicing the tofu. Otherwise, super firm tofu is an excellent alternative to extra firm tofu. As super firm tofu has a denser texture and lesser water content, you don't need to use a tofu press.  

Silken tofu is not recommended to make vegan pancetta because it's too soft to hold a crispy and chewy texture. Tofu bacon works best when you prepare it with extra firm tofu or super firm tofu.

What Is A Carbonara Without Meat Called?

In Neapolitan dialect, a meatless carbonara is called pasta cacio e uova, or cas' e ova. Even without meat, cas' e ova is nothing but tasty, thanks to the silky sauce prepared from a combination of eggs and cheese.

Cas' e ova is prepared with eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and pasta water that coats al dente pasta. 

Which Ingredient Should Never Be Used In Traditional Carbonara?

Cream, garlic, garlic powder, onions, onion powder, olive oil, milk, and butter are the ingredients that should never be used in real carbonara. The silkiness of a carbonara pasta sauce stems from eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and pasta water.

Bacon is also not typically used in carbonara. Instead, guanciale (cured pork) is the staple ingredient in traditional carbonara. If in a pinch, you can also use pancetta.

But since we're looking at vegan carbonara, the typical ingredients associated with traditional carbonara are mostly forgone in exchange for vegan alternatives such as the combination of raw cashews and nutritional yeast to make the cheese, and tofu with liquid smoke and beetroot juice as a replacement for the guanciale and pancetta.

Freshly baked Tomato focaccia. Photo by Paula Berto.

What Side Dishes Can I Serve With Vegan Carbonara?

As this carbonara pasta dish is creamy and rich, serving it with a side dish that has a lighter flavour would be a great way to balance out the flavours and heaviness.

Some fantastic side dish ideas include a salad with apple cider vinegar dressing for a dose of tanginess that eases away the richness, a tomato bruschetta, or a slice of crusty bread like garlic bread and focaccia.


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