This Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara is my version of this popular pasta dish. Made with crispy bacon, creamy egg yolks and delicious garlic mushrooms. A winner any night of the week.
I’m friends with an Italian Chef who will probably go nuts when he sees me post this recipe. Carbonara is one of those quintessential pasta dishes which seems to have a slightly different incarnation on the menu of almost every Italian restaurant I’ve ever visited.
What’s in a Carbonara?
Sometimes it has pancetta or bacon or guanciale, sometimes it has cream. I’ve had it with sausage, with peas, with whole eggs or just the yolks. I prefer mine with spaghetti but have been served it with tagliatelle, penne and even orzo in the past.
Whatever makes a ‘real’ Carbonara doesn’t really matter to me at the end of the day. As long as it tastes amazing then who really cares if it’s authentic, right?
I love this mushroom version. It’s surprisingly easy to make too! I feel like a lot of people get a bit intimidated by the thought of cooking carbonara at home. The fear of ending up with pasta covered in scrambled eggs is real, but I promise you that with my method that’s impossible!
How to Cook Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara
First off, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and when it is bubbling furiously, add your pasta. Bring the water back to the boil and simmer according to the packet instructions – usually around 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry your bacon until crispy in a non-stick frying pan (you shouldn’t need any oil). There’s no need to chop the bacon before cooking – I think you get a better crisp if you leave it whole. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Add some chopped garlic to the pan you used for the bacon, and cook the garlic for about a minute in the bacon fat before adding the sliced mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms regularly for 5-8 minutes as you prepare the sauce – crack the yolks into a bowl or small jug and add the grated cheese. Season with a dash of salt, the herbs and a very generous crack of black pepper then whisk together. Keep the crispiest slice of bacon aside, roughly chop the rest and mix in with the mushrooms.
When the pasta is done, reserve a cup of the water you cooked it in, then drain the pasta and return to the warm pan you cooked it in. Stir in the bacon and mushroom mixture.
To Make the Carbonara Sauce
Add a tablespoon (or more if you like) of the reserved pasta water to the egg and cheese mixture and stir to combine. This step warms up the eggs a little before adding them to the pasta, and helps the sauce mix more easily. It’s in no way a traditional step, but I find it to make the most creamy and smooth sauce and the starch from the water helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
Stir the egg mix in with the pasta (tongs are best for this) and feel free to add more pasta water until you get your desired consistency. Use tongs to serve up the pasta, making sure to divide the mushrooms evenly between each bowl – they tend to sink to the bottom of the pot. Crumble up that crispy slice of bacon you saved earlier and use it to garnish. Add extra cheese too, and as much black pepper as you like.
If you are looking for another easy pasta dish then check these recipes:
- Lentil & Mushroom Bolognese
- Gnocchi Bake with Tomato, Mozzarella and Red Pepper
- One-Pot Chorizo Pasta
I hope you like this recipe for Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara- please leave a comment if you try it!
Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara
- Non stick frying pan
- deep pot or pan
- 8 slices smoked streaky bacon
- 250 gram chestnut mushrooms, halved and sliced
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 3 egg yolks
- 80 grams grated parmesan plus extra to serve
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or chives or sub 1 tsp dried
- 200 gram your favourite pasta I prefer spaghetti or linguini for this recipe
- salt & pepper
- Boil a large pot of salted water and cook your pasta till al dente. Reserve a cup of the water before you drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat and fry your bacon until crispy- you don't need oil. When crispy (but before it starts to burn) take out of the pan and set aside, preferably on some kitchen roll to keep them crispy.
- Add the garlic to the frying pan (again, you shouldn't need any oil – the mushrooms will cook in the bacon fat) stir for a minute then add the mushrooms.
- Stir the mushrooms regularly for 5-8 minutes as you prepare the sauce – crack the yolks into a bowl or small jug and add the grated cheese. Season with a dash of salt, the herbs and a very generous crack of black pepper then whisk together.
- When your mushrooms are almost done, pick out your crispiest slice of bacon and set aside. Chop the rest into approx 1 cm slices and add back to the pan with the mushrooms.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water, and put back in the pan you cooked it in. Pour in the mushrooms and bacon and stir together.
- Add a tablespoon of the pasta water to your sauce mix and stir together to loosen the sauce, then pour it over your pasta, mushrooms and bacon.
- Stir everything together well – tongs work best for this. If your sauce is looking a bit too thick then add more pasta water, a small spoonful at a time until you get your desired consistency.
- Finely dice your saved slice of crispy bacon.
- Serve the pasta, making sure to disperse the mushrooms and bacon evenly (again, tongs are best here) and serve sprinkled with some extra parmesan plus the crispy bacon bits, plus some optional extra chopped parsley or chives.