Cheesy, eggy, carby goodness, this vegetarian carbonara with mushroom bacon was inspired by my recent trip to Italy!Cheesy, eggy, carby goodness, this vegetarian carbonara with mushroom bacon was inspired by my recent trip to Italy! #vegetarian #pasta #carbonara

Ah, pasta. I adore thee.

I’m sorry you constantly get shat on by keto and Whole 30 advocates. I’m sorry that people fear you. I’m here to tell you that I’m on your side and I’m going to keep playing on #TeamPasta and singing your praises so that people can learn to enjoy you again. 

carbonara with mushroom bacon

Hopefully today’s recipe helps a bit too.

I ate A LOT of pasta in Italy. And while before that may have conjured up some feelings of guilt or fear or the need to compensate with exercise, I felt only satisfaction and joy. And as a RD I know that pasta can be the perfect foundation for a nourishing meal. Carbs (pasta) + fat + protein = the gang’s all here.

One of my favorite pasta dishes in Italy was carbonara. I couldn’t get enough of that rich, velvety sauce coating each and every spaghetti strand. It’s a pretty easy pasta to make too. It’s literally eggs + cheese + pasta + bacon. Today, I’m sharing a vegetarian version because while I enjoyed the traditional version abroad, I still like eating plant-based when I can because it aligns with some of my values around the environment, animal welfare and overall health and wellness. Eating meat aligns with my values of satisfaction and enjoyment so I try to strike a balance between the two. Plus, it’s always a fun culinary challenge for me to take a dish and put a vegetarian spin on it.

vegetarian carbonara with mushroom bacon

For the vegetarian-friendly version, I made mushroom bacon. It’s crispy like bacon. Packed with umami flavor like bacon. Just not bacon lol. But if you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals, you’ll love it. This would make for a perfect #MeatlessMonday meal. If you’d like the traditional version, you can use guanicale (Italian bacon) instead of the mushrooms.

Speaking of umami, not to rub it in or anything, but I used the pecorino romano we brought back from Italy for this dish, which added another amazing umami bomb. Don’t worry though any dry aged cheese will provide umami (it doesn’t have to be brought back from Italy). And if you’re like what the F is umami? Read my post from earlier this week where I talk all about umami and MSG. 

carbonara with mushroom bacon

This dish is perfect for colder temps because it’s got that comfort food factor. Easy for a weeknight dinner. Preferably a Friday with a glass (or two) of wine. 

vegetarian carbonara

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Vegetarian Carbonara with Mushroom Bacon

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Cheesy, eggy, carby goodness, this vegetarian carbonara with mushroom bacon was inspired by my recent trip to Italy!


  • 10 ounces sliced cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Salt, to taste
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup packed grated pecorino romano
  • 1/3 cup packed grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss mushrooms with olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and garlic and season with salt, to taste. Bake at 350 degrees F until crispy, about 45-60 minutes. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until just before al dente. Reserve pasta water before draining spaghetti.
  4. While spaghetti is cooking, in a medium bowl whisk together eggs and egg yolks. Whisk in cheeses and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, add 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and bring to boil. Add spaghetti and cook, tossing constantly, until al dente and water is reduced by half, about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Whisk 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture and slowly pour into dutch oven, stirring constantly, until a glossy sauce is formed. Season with salt, as needed. Thin sauce with remaining pasta water, as needed, one tablespoon at a time, until sauce is consistency of heavy cream. Stir in mushroom bacon.
  7. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and grated cheese.


  1. Annie’s makes a vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Tell me, have you ever tried carbonara? What’s your favorite Italian pasta dish?

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  1. Rex

    Your mushrooms look quite burnt… To each their own I guess

  2. Frances Healey

    pecorino is not vegetarian

    • There are different variations of diets that vegetarians follow – most who follow a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet eat eggs and cheese, including pecorino, but I understand that a stricter vegetarian may not. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Lola

    Hi Kara,
    I know you’re not strictly vego but for those that are, I thought I’d point out that most Worcestershire sauce is actually made from anchovies. I have seen recipes for vego versions but not tried them myself.

    I might give one a try to use in your carbonara as it looks amazing!

    • Thanks Lola! Yes, there are vegan Worcestershire sauce brands like Annie’s. I’ve updated the recipe so it specifies that. Hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  4. Laura

    This is the best carbonara I’ve ever had, just as good as anything you can get in a restaurant in Rome. And the mushroom bacon is such a creative way to avoid pancetta. I liked it better this way and will definitely find other uses for mushroom bacon!

  5. Stacey Ferreira

    I have made this recipe several times and it’s delicious. There is nothing I can say to improve it.


    What about vegetarian carbonara with bacon is remotely ok ?!!!

  7. Dillon Ventola

    Worcester shire sauce isn’t vegetarian!!!

  8. Janet

    Hi. I thought Worcester sauce contained anchovies?

  9. Vego

    Read the labels on each of the Worcestershire sauce products at our market. All contained anchovies. Any other suggestions?

  10. anon

    Rumour has it that many brands of Worcestershire sauce contain anchovies so may not be veggie