Mushroom Carbonara

mushroom carbonara

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 2 bowls
Yield: 1 pound

Mushroom carbonara is a delicious vegetarian alternative to the classic carbonara, which is traditionally made with pancetta or bacon. The mushrooms are sauteed until brown and crispy, then garlic, Pecorino Romano cheese, and egg yolks are added to finish the sauce. There’s no cream in this bowl thanks to the starchy pasta water that helps create a luscious sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound spaghetti
  • 1 pound baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more for salting the water)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (grated)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather your ingredients.

    mushroom carbonara ingredients
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boul, then add a generous amount of salt. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.

    cooking pasta water
  3. Meanwhile, cut the baby bella mushrooms into bacon lardon-sized pieces. Toss the mushrooms with salt.

    chopped mushrooms
  4. Heat a large saute pan over high. Add the butter and cook until melted. 

    Add the mushrooms in one even layer. Cook over high heat, without disturbing, until they are golden brown on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms and continue to cook until golden brown all over.

    mushrooms sauteed in a pan
  5. Once they are browned, add the garlic and reduce the heat to low. Saute for 1 more minute or until fragrant.

    sauteed mushrooms and garlic
  6. Whisk together the Pecorino Romano and egg yolks in a small bowl. Stir in a few cracks of ground black pepper

    egg yolks beaten with pecorino cheese
  7. Add the pasta to the pan with mushrooms and toss to combine. Turn off the heat.

    spaghetti tossed with mushrooms
  8. Add the egg mixture to the pasta and toss.

    pasta tossed with egg and cheese
  9. Slowly toss in the 1/4 cup hot pasta water at a time. Toss the pasta as you are adding the water until it all comes together as a sauce coating the pasta. You will use about 1/2 cup, but maybe more depending on your sauce preference. (Make sure the water is hot when you add it. You can microwave it if it has cooled down too much.)

    mushroom carbonara
  10. Serve immediately with more grated cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

    mushroom carbonara

    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Recipe Tips

  • Whisking the egg yolks with the Parmesan cheese before adding to the pasta helps to evenly distribute the egg and cheese. Don’t skip this step.
  • You must turn off the heat when adding the egg yolks and hot pasta water otherwise the eggs will scramble instead of creating a creamy sauce due to the high heat. 


Recipe Variations

  • Carbonara is traditionally served with spaghetti, however you can serve it with any kind of pasta you like. Typically longer pastas are used and help with twirling the mushrooms (or pork in traditional carbonara) and the eggs are able to cook correctly over the long thin noodles since it has a good ratio of surface area to volume. But you can also use a short pasta if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Classic carbonara uses Pecorino Romano because of its sharp taste and it is native to Rome where this dish originated. However, you can also substitute Parmesan.

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