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Creamy Carbonara with Tempeh "Bacon"

Recipe by Vegan Recipes and Vibes (@veganrecipesandvibes)

Creamy Carbonara with Tempeh "Bacon"

Yield: 8 servings | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes


This is like if Carbonara and Alfredo sauce had a vegan baby with less calories. Carbonara is traditionally made with egg yolks, pancetta, parmesan, and sometimes peas, while Alfredo sauce is typically a heavy cream-and-cheese-based sauce. This combines the creaminess of Alfredo sauce with the meaty flavors of Carbonara sauce to get a rich, decadent dish. Topped with tempeh bacon crumbles, this pasta is bursting with warm comfort-food flavors that you won't want to miss out on!


  • 1 box of penne pasta (about 16 oz)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour

  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened nut milk (I used almond)

  • 4 tbsp vegan cream cheese

  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1 tbsp parsley flakes

  • 1 ½ tbsp cornstarch (mixed with 3 tbsp water to make a slurry)

  • 1 cup frozen peas (defrosted)

  • Tiny pinch of kala namak (black salt) (optional)

  • Salt & pepper to taste

  • Tempeh "bacon" for topping

Tempeh "Bacon" Ingredients:

  • 8 oz tempeh

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • ½ tsp liquid smoke

  • ½ tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 4 tbsp neutral-flavored oil


  • Start by marinating your tempeh bacon.

  • Break up the tempeh into small crumbles and place in a bowl.

  • Add all the bacon ingredients to the bowl, mix until the tempeh is evenly coated, then let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Once the tempeh is done marinating, cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until the tempeh is dark brown and slightly crispy.

  • Separately, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

  • Meanwhile, make the sauce.

  • In a large frying pan, heat the oil on low.

  • Add the flour and cook for a few seconds to create a rue.

  • Slowly add the milk to the pan, whisking constantly so lumps don’t form.

  • Immediately add the cream cheese and seasonings to the pan.

  • Bring the sauce to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

  • As soon as it starts to boil, gently fold in the peas and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  • Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly so it doesn't clump.

  • Simmer for another few minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.

  • Optional: add a tiny pinch of kala namak to give this a slightly eggy flavor to mimic traditional Carbonara sauce.

  • Remove from heat, and mix in the cooked penne.

  • Serve and top with tempeh bacon crumbles!


Tips and Tricks:

  • To make this more like a traditional Carbonara sauce, try adding a tiny pinch of kala namak (black salt) to the sauce. This gives it a slightly eggy flavor that mimics the raw egg yolks normally used in the sauce. You can usually find kala namak at specialty food stores or on Amazon.

  • This recipe makes extra tempeh "bacon" crumbles. You can use the extra on salads, wraps, other pasta dishes, or really pile it high on your carbonara.

  • Store the pasta and tempeh in separate air-tight containers in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Nutrition & Servings: (calculated by MyFitnessPal)

Creamy Carbonara Pasta:

  • Servings: 8

  • Calories: 215

  • Total Fat: 10g

  • Carbs: 16g

  • Protein: 6g

Tempeh Bacon:

  • Servings: 10 (3 tbsp each)

  • Calories: 100

  • Total Fat: 15g

  • Carbs: 9g

  • Protein: 9g

^ Nutrition facts include the ingredients listed above. Nutrition facts may change slightly if different quantities of ingredients are used or added.

Tag me on Instagram @veganrecipesandvibes


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