Vegan Carbonara

Close up of a bowl of vegan carbonara pasta on a marble benchtop with striped linen napkin.

Written by Liz

I’m Liz, I share recipes and easy substitutes to make plant-based living simple!

January 9, 2023

The Ultimate Vegan Carbonara Recipe: Made with Cashews!

I’m so excited you’re going to try my vegan carbonara recipe! If you’re a fan of creamy pasta dishes but are looking for a plant-based option, this recipe is sure to satisfy.

The creamy cashew-based carbonara sauce is the star of this dish. It’s made with a blend of raw cashews, soy milk, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, and miso paste, and it’s super easy to make in a high speed blender. Just blend all the ingredients together until smooth, taste and season with salt and pepper, and you’re ready to go!

Close up of a bowl of vegan carbonara pasta on a marble benchtop with striped linen napkin.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe for Vegan Carbonara

  • Creamy and delicious: The cashew-based carbonara sauce is rich, smooth, and full of flavor. It’s the perfect complement to the pasta, creating a satisfying and tasty dish.
  • Easy to make: This recipe doesn’t require any special skills and it comes together quickly and easily, making it a great choice for a weeknight dinner.
  • Vegan and plant-based: If you’re looking for a meatless meal that is still satisfying and filling, this vegan carbonara is perfect. The tofu bacon bits add a savory, smoky flavor and a crispy texture, making it a great alternative to traditional bacon.
  • Versatile: You can use any type of pasta you like for this recipe, so feel free to use your favorite. Fettuccine, linguine, fusilli or rigatoni are all great options. And if you don’t have an air fryer or a frypan, you can bake the tofu bacon in the oven instead. It’s budget-friendly: This recipe serves four people and only costs around $6 to make. It’s a great way to enjoy a tasty and satisfying meal without breaking the bank.

Glass baking dish with squares of tofu soaking in soy sauce marinade on white marble bench, to be used in vegan carbonara recipe as bacon bits.

What You’ll Need to Make Vegan Carbonara

To get that silky smooth texture, you’ll need a high speed blender for this recipe. If your blender is on the weaker side, soak the cashews overnight to get them really soft. Air fryer is completely optional but super handy.

Equipment:

  • A high speed blender
  • An air fryer (optional)

Shopping list:

  • Raw cashews
  • Soy milk (unsweetened)
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Light miso paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra firm tofu
  • Soy sauce
  • Maple syrup
  • Smoked paprika
  • Spaghetti (or pasta of choice)

Bowl of vegan carbonara pasta on a marble benchtop with striped linen napkin.

Key Ingredients

  • Raw cashews: These are the base of the creamy carbonara sauce. They provide a rich, nutty flavor and a smooth, velvety texture when blended with the other sauce ingredients. Be sure to soak the cashews in boiling water for at least 10 minutes before blending to soften them and make them easier to blend.
  • Tofu: Tofu is a great plant-based protein that is used to make the tofu bacon bits in this recipe. In addition, it’s high in protein and has a neutral flavor, making it a versatile ingredient that can take on the flavors of the marinade. Be sure to use extra firm tofu for this recipe, as it holds its shape better and becomes crispy when fried.
  • Nutritional yeast: This is a type of deactivated yeast that has a savory, nutty flavor and is often used as a flavor enhancer in vegan recipes. What’s more, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals, including B-vitamins, and it adds a delicious depth of flavor to the carbonara sauce.
  • Miso paste: This is a fermented paste made from soybeans, salt, and a type of fungus called koji. It has a savory, umami flavor and is often used to add depth and complexity to sauces and marinades. In this recipe, it adds a nice depth of flavor to the carbonara sauce.
  • Pasta: Any type of pasta will work for this recipe, so feel free to use your favorite. Spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, and bucatini are all great options. Just be sure to cook the pasta according to the package instructions and then drain it before adding it to the sauce.

Bowl of vegan carbonara pasta on a marble benchtop with striped linen napkin.

Storage Instructions

If you have leftovers of this vegan carbonara, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply place the leftovers in a saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, adding a splash of soy milk or water if needed to thin the sauce and prevent burning. Alternatively, you can also reheat the leftovers in the microwave using a microwave-safe dish.

Note: The tofu bacon bits may become slightly soft when stored in the refrigerator, but they should still be flavorful. If you prefer a crisper texture, you may want to make a fresh batch of tofu bacon when you’re ready to serve the leftovers.

Close up of a bowl of vegan carbonara pasta on a marble benchtop with striped linen napkin.

In conclusion, this vegan carbonara recipe is a delicious and satisfying plant-based meal that is perfect for a weeknight dinner. The creamy cashew-base