This truly is the best vegan carbonara that you’ll taste! Packed full with protein, it's made with silken tofu and a handful of other ingredients. You’ll be in the kitchen for under 30 minutes and only need one pot. Plus, it can be made ahead of time!
🌟 Why this recipe works
- Tried and tested – I know we say it a lot but we never publish anything that hasn’t been tried and tested thoroughly. This vegan carbonara is no different. We’ve been making it for years and have finally got around to publishing (and updating!) it. Plus, it has the Vegan Punks friends and family seal of approval!
- Rich and creamy – the combination of ingredients really does make this the best vegan carbonara ever. The mix of soaked cashews (which is really important), silken tofu, oat milk and nutritional yeast is a match made in heaven. The quantities used are super important, not only to the flavour, but for the consistency and sauce thickness too.
- Just like the non-vegan version – it’s just like the carbonara of our childhoods, but dairy-free and meat-free! It’s not like the traditional version that is often yellow, but the creamy kind that doesn’t usually contain egg yolk.
- Make-ahead – it can be made ahead, so whether you want to keep the sauce in the fridge for a couple of days before serving, or you want to make it and freeze the sauce to be defrosted and used a little way down the line, both are options with this recipe!
- Reader approved – the greatest comment came in about this recipe below:
So delicious. My non-vegan boyfriend said he was as satisfied with this dish as he was with an actual carbonara (one of his all-time favourite dishes). We both loved it so much we ended up eating all 4 portions in one sitting... whoops!Daisy, Recipe reviewer
🍽 Equipment Needed
To make this recipe, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment. A large pan, a sieve, measuring spoons and a high power blender. The better the blender the smoother the sauce, but whatever blender you have in the cupboard should do the trick. We use this Magimix blender.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Cashews – an excellent source of protein, and a secret ingredient in vegan cooking that helps to create indulgently creamy sauces, like this vegan carbonara sauce.
- Nutritional yeast – adds a great nutty, cheesy flavour as well as vitamin B12.
- Silken tofu – it’s not just for scrambled tofu! This vegan carbonara uses silken tofu in the sauce. It helps to create the right consistency. It’s actually great in sauces and desserts too, like cheesecake or chocolate pudding. It’s also an excellent source of vegan protein.
- Fake bacon – with so many options out there now, we decided to use a fake meat substitute for the ‘bacon’ lardons! We do also include an option for making your own vegan style lardons with firm tofu and a smokey marinade (in the recipe notes). In the UK, we like This Isn’t Bacon (either strips or the chunks) or Vivera. Both are solid options for this recipe.
- Spaghetti or pasta – we’ve made a vegan spaghetti carbonara but you can just as easily substitute spaghetti for pasta. Just make sure the pasta is egg-free – which is a safe bet when buying dried pasta or spaghetti, but fresh pasta almost always has egg in it.
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
1. Cook spaghetti according to packet ingredients, drain in a sieve and then rinse with cold water (to prevent the spaghetti from sticking together).
2. Chop the vegan bacon into small chunks and fry them off in a pan. You can optionally use a splash of olive oil or an oil spray to make sure they don’t stick. Set aside in a bowl once browned.
3. Blend up the ingredients for the sauce in the blender. That's the tofu, oat milk, cashews, kala namak and nutritional yeast. Make sure the cashews have been soaked and drained. Set aside.
4. In the same pan used to fry the facon, fry the garlic in a splash of olive oil or oil spray.
5. Pour in the creamy sauce and stir it all up until bubbling, then turn down to a simmer. This should take 2-3 minutes.
6. Stir the petit pois through the sauce and heat for a few more minutes until hot. Add lots of salt and pepper (to your taste).
7. Pop the cooked pasta into the sauce and mix up really well with tongs.
👩🍳 Expert tips
- Soaking the cashews – this allows the cashews to become incredibly soft, meaning they break down ever so easily in the blender, creating a silky smooth texture in the sauce. The sauce will be grainy if they’re not soaked for long enough. Soak in boiling hot water for at least 1 hour but 3-4 hours is recommended. Alternatively, if you’re very organised, soak them the night before for best ever results.
- Kala namak – we highly recommend using the kala namak for a slight eggy flavour. While this vegan carbonara recipe doesn’t use turmeric to create the traditional yellow sauce, we do use kala namak for the eggy flavour. The reason a traditional carbonara is yellow is due to egg yolk. Our recipe gets a similar flavour from the ‘egg salt’. However, we wanted it to look like a classic British/American-style creamy carbonara sauce that we had as kids, so we didn’t need to add anything to change the colour.
- Fake bacon or tofu – if you don’t like, or don’t want, to use fake bacon, you can make smokey tofu lardons using firm tofu. It will mean the recipe takes a bit longer to make but it is fantastic with either tofu lardons or fake bacon.
- Make-ahead – the vegan carbonara sauce keeps in the fridge for 3 days, so if you want to make it ahead of time there’s an option for this. Just don’t cook the spaghetti until you’re going to mix it together, and add the fake bacon and peas when reheating. Otherwise, the peas and fake bacon will dry out in the fridge.
- Freezing – the vegan carbonara sauce also freezes well with the peas and fake bacon (or tofu lardons) in the sauce. However, we’d recommend not freezing it with the spaghetti. Just cook the spaghetti when you want to eat it. Be sure to defrost the sauce and thoroughly reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Variations – as mentioned above, you can add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder to create a yellow colour, and you can use smokey tofu lardons instead of vegan fake bacon.
Yes, the sauce can be made ahead of time and frozen. We recommend freezing the sauce separately, with the facon and petit pois, but not mixed with the spaghetti. Instead, cook the spaghetti when you want to have the meal.
Definitely not! Usually, carbonara contains egg, dairy and meat. However, this is the best vegan carbonara and we don’t think it missed any of the non-vegan ingredients!
Yes, but we would recommend doubling the silken tofu or alternatively using a different type of nut, like macadamia, to create the right consistency. If using just silken tofu and oat milk, you may need to add a thickening agent like cornflour or cornstarch.
Yes, however nutritional yeast adds a nutty, creamy, almost cheesy flavour that this recipe really benefits from. There isn’t another ingredient out there that’s like it. If you can, give it a go. Nutritional yeast is also a great source of vitamin B12, which is often lacking from all diets.
🍝 What to serve with it
- Vegan Garlic Bread
- Vegan Parmesan cheese
- Tomato & Cucumber Salad
- Sautéed Green Beans & Tomatoes
- Wilted Spinach Salad
More vegan pasta recipes:
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Best Vegan Carbonara (Under 30 Minutes)
- 300 g spaghetti
- 120 g Vegan Bacon – e.g. brands like This or Vivera
- 300 g silken tofu
- 1 cup oat milk – we use Oatly barista
- 1 cup cashews – soaked for a few hours (or overnight) in boiling hot water and drained
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ⅛ tsp kala namak optional
- 4 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil – optional, or a few sprays of oil spray like Fry Light
- 1 cup petit pois – or peas
- Salt and pepper – to taste
- Cook the spaghetti according to packet ingredients, drain and rinse with cold water (to prevent the spaghetti from sticking together), set aside.300 g spaghetti
- Fry off the vegan bacon in a large sauté pan. You can optionally use a splash of olive oil or an oil spray to make sure they don’t stick, or dry fry. Set aside.120 g Vegan Bacon
- Now, for the sauce. Blend the silken tofu, oat milk, cashews, kala namak and nutritional yeast in a blender. Set aside.300 g silken tofu, 1 cup oat milk, 1 cup cashews, ⅛ tsp kala namak, ½ cup nutritional yeast
- In the same pan, fry the garlic in a splash of olive oil or oil spray.4 cloves garlic, 1 tsp olive oil
- Pour the sauce in and stir until heated through, then turn down to simmer. This should take 2-3 minutes.
- Add the petit pois and stir through the sauce. Heat for a few more minutes until hot, for around 2 minutes.1 cup petit pois
- Add lots of salt and pepper (to your taste).Salt and pepper
- Stir through the vegan bacon pieces. Pop in the cooked spaghetti and mix well. Use tongs for best results.120 g Vegan Bacon, 300 g spaghetti
- Serve with extra nutritional yeast, vegan parmesan, and optionally, vegan garlic bread too.
- If you don’t want to use fake bacon, you can make tofu lardons. Mix 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp liquid smoke, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce and 1 tbsp maple syrup in a bowl. Add small chunks of firm tofu (400g) and then fry off in place of the fake bacon in step 2.
- Kala Namak, AKA Himalayan black Salt, is optional but adds an eggy flavour that is traditional.
- If you’d like the carbonara to be yellow like the traditional version add up to ½ a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
- If you don’t have unsweetened oat milk, the next best option is soya or cashew. Other plant milks such as almond milk, is too flavourful.
- You can make the sauce ahead of time. Just make up the sauce (not the spaghetti or the fake bacon) and put it in the fridge for up to 3 days, then heat through thoroughly.
- The sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months. We don’t recommend freezing with the spaghetti.