Mushroom Carbonara

A plant-based, oil-free and delicious Carbonara.

Traditionally made with eggs, hard cheese and guanciale (cured pork meat), major props go to Chef Daniel Gritzer from Serious Eats who's veganized this version of Carbonara.

Serves 4

Makes enough for 1 pound of pasta


  • Half a 14 oz block of silken tofu

  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut

  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut brine

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1 tbsp miso

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp ground pepper

  • 2 cups of mushrooms; ideally king oyster and shiitakes, washed & chopped

  • 1 tsp salt (more to taste)

  • 1 lb pasta


  1. Boil water in a large pot and cook pasta according to package instructions

  2. Heat a large pan and sauté mushrooms. Optional: cook with 1-2 tbsp of oil, preferably with a high burning-point like safflower oil (to minimize carcinogens)

  3. In a blender, add tofu, sauerkraut and its brine, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, cayenne, paprika and salt. Blend until smooth

  4. Once pasta is cooked, add to pan with mushrooms and 1/4 cup of pasta cooking water

  5. Add sauce to pan, heat through and enjoy!

Note: add 1/4 cup olive oil to blended ingredients and continue to blend to emulsify the sauce. The original recipe calls for this step but I've tested it with and without oil and it's still delicious without it (and much healthier).

I've also shared this sauce with a couple of friends (one who's plant-based, one who isn't) and they both loved it - hurray! I'm always looking for delicious, oil-free comfort food recipes so this makes me very happy.

When I have fresh herbs on hand, tarragon is my go-to for anything with a creamy sauce. Very drool-worthy.

Here are these luscious noodles without the distraction of any mushrooms:

I read that Chef Gritzer (jokingly) gets annoyed with his fellow colleague, Kenji - a very entertaining and knowledgeable culinary scientist - because every month, Kenji challenges himself to make a vegan recipe. So to challenge himself as well, Chef Gritzer created this Carbonara dish. The king oyster mushrooms mimic guanciale really well and it's obvious there was a lot of testing and experimentation to create such a masterpiece with this recipe.

I've eliminated the oil, typically use a whole wheat pasta (Jovial is the best), add sauerkraut (versus just its brine) and use a mixture and a lot more mushrooms for added flavor and nutrition.

Mushrooms are a special and unique food that we should consume regularly to help eliminate free radicals at the core of our cells - something many foods are not able to do. More info can be found here (and also another creamy sauce recipe!)

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