The Best Vegan Carbonara {gf option}

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The best vegan carbonara, my all-time favourite pasta (though it’s hard to choose a favourite child). Salty, peppery, tangy, a bit funky, rich, silky, and as authentically Italian as a vegan version can be.

This is it: the best vegan carbonara. Well, the best according to me anyway. I’ve been tweaking this vegan carbonara recipe for so long now, updating the recipe over and over on Instagram until it was all the things I needed it to be. I wanted to pay homage to traditional carbonara as well as I was able. That meant mimicking the rich, salty, and silky egg yolk-pecorino sauce and the slightly funky, fatty guanciale lardons, all tossed with al dente pasta and a boatload of fresh pepper. 

This is my current version of the perfect vegan carbonara. I may continue to play with it, but for now, I can’t imagine anything better.

What makes it the best vegan carbonara?

The tofu is marinated in an umami-bomb of flavours, then baked till crisp.

The sauce gets its creaminess from silken tofu and its richness from olive oil, its cheesiness from nutritional yeast and miso, and its pecorino tang from apple cider vinegar.

Black salt gives it the slight eggy flavour that a true carbonara demands.

Trust me when I say that all of the ingredients are so worth it and are there for a reason, and method-wise it’s easy, just:

Marinate the tofu, then bake it.

Blend the sauce.

Cook the pasta (spaghetti is my usual go-to, but bucatini and rigatoni are also delicious options).

Toss it all together in a pan.

Tangle into bowls, pour yourself a glass of Pinot Grigio or Sangiovese and you’re all set.  

Vegan carbonara ingredient substitutions

Firm tofu — oyster mushrooms or dried and rehydrated shiitake are a great substitute here, though I can’t give you an exact amount. Just make sure the mushrooms are nicely coated in the sauce and bake until they’re a little dried and chewy. You could also just use a store-bought bacon.

Silken tofu — I wouldn’t recommend subbing this, it creates the silky, eggy sauce.

Cashews — you could also use raw macadamias, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds. Leaving it out completely will also work, it just won’t be as rich.

Nutritional yeast — no sub, you need this for the cheesy flavour.

White miso — don’t substitute this with another kind of miso, it will be too strong. I don’t recommend leaving this out, it adds huge depth of flavour and gives the sauce that complex parmesan-y kick.

Apple cider vinegar — you can also use white vinegar.

Other great vegan carbonara’s

This vegan carbonara pasta from Serious Eats is delicious. I prefer my version with the tofu ‘guanciale’, but I love how they use sauerkraut brine in the sauce to give the pasta that lactic acid tang reminiscent of pecorino.

Similar to mine, but with a shorter ingredient list, Nadia’s classic spaghetti carbonara is a delight (she’s the queen of vegan Italian cooking).

More vegan pasta favourites

Spicy Rigatoni Alla Vodka

Spaghetti Pomodoro

The Best Vegan Lasagne

Rigatoni with Tomato, Eggplant, Fennel, and Sausage

The Best Vegan Carbonara {gf option}

vegan, egg-free, dairy-free, gf option
The perfect vegan carbonara, and my all-time favourite pasta (though it's hard to choose a favourite child). Salty, peppery, tangy, rich, and silky as a good carbonara should be.
Servings 5

Ingredients

  • 500 g spaghetti, rigatoni or bucatini (gf if needed)

‘Guanciale’

  • 375 g firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce or tamari (gf if needed)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce or tamari (gf if needed)
  • 1 tbsp white shiro miso paste
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 dash worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground fennel seed (optional)
  • pinch fine sea salt

Creamy Sauce

  • 300 g silken tofu
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp (40 ml) white shiro miso paste
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (+ more to taste)
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt (+ more to taste at the end)
  • 1/8 tsp black salt (kala namak) for eggy flavour (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric for colour (optional)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Finish

  • lots of freshly cracked black pepper (seriously shower the sauce with pepper)
  • reserved pasta cooking water

Serve

  • vegan parmesan

Instructions

‘Guanciale’

  • Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F. Cut the tofu into small strips or ‘lardons’. In a medium bowl whisk the remaining ‘guanciale’ ingredients together then stir in the tofu, making sure it’s all well coated and covered in the marinade. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temp and up to 1 day in the fridge. The longer you have, the better.
  • Drain the tofu discarding the marinade, and spread on one layer on a baking paper-lined tray. Bake for 30 – 40 mins. Give it a stir a few times as it cooks. It’s done when it’s dried out a fair bit and is darkly coloured in places (it will become crispy/chewy as it cools).

Creamy Sauce

  • Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil with the blender running on low to emulsify. Set aside.

Pasta

  • Cook pasta in boiling well-salted water until al dente, drain (don’t rinse!), reserving at least 1 cup or so of pasta water for the sauce.

Finish

  • Warm the creamy sauce in a pan along with a very good hit of freshly cracked black pepper and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Add the drained pasta and toss together till warmed through and the pasta is looking satiny and coated, add more pasta water if needed to thin and create a silky sauce.

Serve

  • Gently toss through as much of the ‘guanciale’ as you’d like. Taste and stir through more pepper and/or salt if it needs, then tangle into bowls and serve with vegan parmesan.
Course: Dinner, Main Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pasta

Join the Conversation

  1. Jesse-Gabriel says:

    Ohne viele Worte, einfach nur köstlich!
    Liebe Grüße,
    Jesse-Gabriel

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