Chicken Carbonara is a pasta dish made with al dente spaghetti, creamy sauce, crispy bacon, and tender chicken with the taste of parmesan cheese in every bite. It may not be authentic carbonara, but it is so delicious and easy to make! It may be your new favorite way to eat spaghetti, and it’s ready to go in about 30 minutes! If you prefer a dish without chicken, I also have Spaghetti Carbonara you will love!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Pasta: Traditionally, spaghetti is used in carbonara recipes. However, you could certainly use another long pasta like fettuccini, linguini, or bucatini. In my Spicy Garlic Noodles recipe, I used bucatini, which is a little thicker than spaghetti with a thin hole running down the center of each noodle. They are perfect for holding all the delicious sauce, so would be amazing in this recipe, too! Reserve a cup of pasta water to use in the sauce.
Bacon: I cut up thick-cut bacon for my chicken carbonara. However, you could use pancetta or try the dish with turkey bacon.
Chicken: Cubes of chicken breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper, and then cooked through in reserved bacon grease. To save time (and skip the step of cooking the chicken) you could use leftover shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken (both of which are already cooked)!
Eggs: Eggs and parmesan cheese are whisked together and poured over the noodles. Use tongs to constantly toss the noodles with the sauce. This will cook the eggs to create the creamy sauce (no heavy cream needed).
Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese is a key ingredient in carbonara. You could also substitute pecorino romano or a parmesan cheese blend for a similar flavor profile.
Optional Add-Ins To Chicken Carbonara
Although delicious as-is, there are optional add-ins you could try to enhance its flavor and texture. Here are some ideas:
- Add vegetables like sauteed mushrooms, peas, or spinach.
- For a bit of heat, add red pepper flakes.
- Try it with toasted pine nuts or chopped walnuts for added crunch.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes.
- Add fresh tomatoes for a burst of freshness.
How To Store Chicken Carbonara
To store chicken carbonara, first, let it cool to room temperature. Then, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 3-4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or a pot on the stovetop over low heat.
- 4 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
- 2 cups (200 g) parmesan cheese, grated
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 16 ounces spaghetti, uncooked
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
- parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
- In a bowl, mix the beaten eggs and parmesan cheese. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, reserving 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan.
- Season chicken cubes evenly with salt and pepper. Then add to the large skillet with the reserved bacon grease. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, flipping occasionally until all sides are golden brown and the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F.
- While the chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Turn off the heat. Do not drain the pasta water; you will use it again.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add minced garlic. Cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the cooked bacon back to the skillet. Then, remove the skillet from heat.
- Using tongs, add the cooked spaghetti directly from the pasta water to the skillet with the chicken and bacon.
- Pour the egg and parmesan mixture into the skillet, constantly tossing with the tongs. The heat from the pasta and chicken will cook the eggs, creating a creamy sauce. If the sauce is thick, gradually add a bit of the pasta water, tossing with tongs, until the desired consistency is reached. (We used about ½ cup.)
- Garnish with parsley and additional parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
Did you make this recipe?
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What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:
I'll be honest, I'm a newly converted fan of Carbonara. I didn't always appreciate the simplicity of it! The creamy sauce paired with the chicken and bacon bits is so delicious!
I love this dish, and never realized how easy it is to make a version of carbonara! It wasn't too rich, and adding chicken really made it a satisfying dish!
Creamy, easy, and delicious dinner! I love carbonara; that cheese and egg mixture makes such a wonderful creamy sauce. The chicken added to this gives protein to make it a complete meal!
So delicious. I love carbonara anyway, and with the addition of extra protein, it really amps up the flavor!
Flavorful and fulfilling! You can't go wrong with a creamy and hearty pasta dish!
This is a wonderfully simple meal, and it'll feed a crowd! The added protein really takes this up a notch!