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Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
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Why we love it:

As a chef, let me say that there is no question - you should not put peas in spaghetti carbonara (and for that matter it should have bacon). Yet, as a mom of two kids who maybe did or didn’t eat anything green in the past 24 hours, I always toss some frozen peas in the dish. And, we’ve made this vegetarian because the quick, rich sauce of eggs is satisfying and good for all to have.


  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (possibly more, to taste)
  • 1 pound Spaghetti
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated is worth the effort in this dish)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 12 Yellow Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Unsalted Butter
  • 12 teaspoon Black Pepper (possibly more, to taste)
  • 1 cup Frozen Peas

Cooking Instructions


    It’s not hard to make this dish, but it is unique - if you haven’t made an egg thickened sauce like this before.

  • 2. PASTA

    Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil (in a large pasta pot). Add 1 Tablespoon of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. When the pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of the water in a measuring cup, then drain.

  • 3. EGGS + CHEESE

    Grate the cheese. It really is worth grating it freshly from a large block of parmesan even though that takes time. Low quality or pre-grated cheese can clump and might not dissolve into the velvety sauce you’re looking for.

    In a small bowl whisk the eggs, black pepper, and cheese until well-combined.

  • 4. ONION + PEAS

    While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Melt the butter and add them to the pan and sauté for about 3-4 minutes, or until its just becoming fragrant and golden. Add the frozen peas.

    Turn the heat down to low. (If the pasta is not ready at this point, turn the pan off and wait. When the pasta is drained, return the pan to medium-high heat and continue).


    Add half of the reserved pasta water (about ¼ cup) to the pan with the onions. Toss in the spaghetti and stir over the heat for a few seconds until the bubbling subsides. Some of the water will evaporate.

    Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture to it; keep stirring quickly as the eggs thicken. The residual heat will cook the eggs but work quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

    *You’ll see the sauce thicken up around the pasta, if it’s too thick (like glue) add a little bit more of the reserved pasta water.
    *If it’s too thin, carefully place the pan back over low heat, stir constantly, flipping the pasta over, and heat for a minute or so at a time. Remove from the heat and stir. Replace on the heat as needed until it’s thicker.

    A good sauce should coat the noodles but look smooth and still puddle underneath a bit.

  • 6. SERVING

    Taste for seasoning; depending on the pasta water’s saltiness, you may or may not prefer to add more salt.

    Divide the pasta into bowls and serve immediately. Top with more cheese and black pepper to taste.

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    Use an 8 ounce tub of high quality almond or cashew cheese. Whisk it with the pasta water and toss it with the hot pasta (no need to cook over the heat). If eggs are ok, use just 2, whisk them with the nut cheese and the pasta cooking water (again no need to heat unless the pasta isn’t hot enough for you).
    would be delicious topped with sautéed salmon, shrimp or scallops. Also, this sauce is perfect for tossing with a few ounces of crab meat just before serving.
  • PEAS:
    omit to be more “classic”. We also love tossing small florets of broccoli or cauliflower in with the pasta while it’s cooking.
  • ADD ONS:
    consider adding sautéed mushrooms, sliced artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, or shallots in place of bacon here. Sliced veggie sausage or crumbled veggie chorizo works too.
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