Let's make Chicken Carbonara, a classic Italian dish that combines the richness of creamy pasta with the savory goodness of chicken. It’s comforting, filling, and all-around scrumptious. This has quickly become a family staple we all love it so much!
This is a classic recipe that can be enjoyed year-round, but it's especially satisfying during fall and winter months. Make this pasta dish as a weeknight family meal or a special occasion.
Below is a list of ingredients needed to make carbonara. This is a simple recipe that doesn't require a lot of ingredients but still has great flavor.
- Diced Chicken- Thaw frozen the chicken the night before in the refrigerator, or use fresh chicken and cut into small 1 inch by 1 inch cubes for easy cooking and eating. I set an alarm the night before so I don't forget to thaw the chicken!
- Bacon(Optional, Not Pictured)- For extra flavor and a more traditional Carbonara Pasta dish add in chopped cooked bacon. We love making this a chicken bacon pasta.
- Eggs- Eggs are what make this dish unique to other creamy white sauce dishes.
- Linguine Pasta- While you are free to use any style of pasta your family likes, we love the look and functionality of linguine pasta.
- Grated Parmesan- Grated parmesan is easy to have on hand and is typically a pantry staple. You can use shredded parmesan for similar results.
- Heavy Cream- Heavy cream gives this sauce a rich and creamy taste. I have successfully made this recipe with half and half and even whole milk. You can even use evaporated milk.
- Diced Onion- We use purple onion for this dish but you can also use white or yellow onion.
- Frozen Green Peas- We prefer frozen peas over canned peas because they maintain a good taste and texture after being mixed with the other ingredients.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Chicken Carbonara
Follow these step-by-step instructions for the best recipe experience. Use the pictures for visual help.
- On medium heat, cook diced chicken in olive oil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Just before the chicken is done, add the diced onions and garlic and finish cooking the chicken.
2. While the chicken and noodles finish cooking, combine the grated parmesan, eggs, and heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl. Mix until smooth.
3. Once the chicken is cooked and the onions are soft, add the frozen peas and cooked diced bacon. Mix to thaw peas.
4. Drain the pasta, reserve ½ cup of pasta water, and add it to the top of the chicken mixture. While the noodles are still hot, and the saute pan is over low heat, slowly add the egg mixture and mix until well coated. Add extra pasta water if you want the sauce to be thinner.
Hint: While mixing the sauce with the hot noodles, keep on low heat to help set the sauce. Take off the heat immediately once the sauce is set on the noodles. Avoid over cooking!
Substitutions and Variations
Look to the recipe card for more ideas!
- Evaporated Milk- Substitute heavy cream with evaporated milk at a 1:1 ratio. The taste will be altered somewhat and it won't be as creamy but will still have tasty results.
- Greek Yogurt- Use Greek Yogurt at a 1:1 ratio to make this entree without cream. You will get a thicker sauce, so add ½ cup pasta water reserve while mixing in the sauce with the noodles to help the yogurt sauce spread throughout the dish.
- Spicy - add crushed red pepper flakes to the entire dish or to individual plates for a spicy version.
- Without Bacon - This entree tastes delicious without bacon. If you just want a chicken dish, don't add the diced bacon in with the other ingredients.
How To Serve
This dish has it all, filled with carbs, protein, fats, and vegetables! My family makes this at least once a month. We even made it for my husband's birthday dinner and served it with Kiwi Sorbet and Philadelphia Cheesecake. It's an easy dish to serve with a side salad and rolls and a great dessert.
Learn From Us
The first time I made this I didn't have to reserve any pasta water. I overcooked the carbonara sauce while mixing in the noodles and the whole dish dried out quickly. It was disappointing. The next time I had the pasta water ready to add in just in case. It made a huge difference trying to thin and moisten the dish and it ended up tasting great.
Store cooked pasta dish in an air-tight container for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. To reheat pasta, place it in a microwave-safe dish and reheat until chicken and pasta are heated through.
Place leftovers in a freezer bag or an air-tight freezer container and freeze for 3-4 months. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator and heat in the microwave until heated through.
Make sure the noodles are steaming hot when you add the egg sauce. We keep the pan on low heat while mixing in the sauce to ensure that the sauce is cooked through and no raw egg is left behind. But make sure to keep a close eye on the sauce so it doesn't overcook.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with Chicken Carbonara:
- 1 medium sized mixing bowl
- 1 medium sauce pan
- 1 large saute pan
- 12 ounces linguine pasta or your choice of noodles
- 1 large chicken breast cut into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup purple onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 whole eggs
- ¾ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 4 slices bacon (optional) cooked and diced
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste
- In a medium sauce pan, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to instructions on the package. Drain, reserving ½ cup water.12 ounces linguine pasta
- While the pasta cook, in a large saute pan, add olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add diced chicken breasts and cook until halfway cooked through. Add diced onion and minced garlic and finish cooking while cooking the onions and garlic. Set aside.1 large chicken breast, ½ tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup purple onion, 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the eggs, heavy cream, parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth.3 whole eggs, ¾ cup grated parmesan, ½ cup heavy cream
- Add cooked and diced bacon and frozen peas to the chicken mixture. Mix altogether. Add the hot, drained, pasta to the top of the dish. Slowly mix in the egg mixture with the hot noodles and mix the chicken, pasta, and sauce all together. See photos above for a great visual.¾ cup frozen peas, 4 slices bacon (optional), 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Keep the saute pan on low heat while mixing int he sauce, this will help the sauce set with the noodles.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
- You can store this for 4-5 days in the refrigerator or even freeze in an air tight container for up to 4 months.
- To make it gluten free, use gluten free noodles.
- While we use linguine in this recipe feel free to use your favorite style of pasta like fettuccine, ziti, penne, bow tie, or even spaghetti noodles.
- For convenience and ease, we use grated (powder) parmesan. Substitute fresh parmesan at a 1:1 ratio.
- Make this vegetarian by making this without bacon and chicken.
- Instead of bacon, add in ½ cup of diced ham.
- For a cheesy experience, use tortellini instead of traditional pasta. Make sure it's hot when you mix it with the sauce.
- For a more veggie packed, low carb meal, use zucchini noodles.
- Replace the noodles with cooked spaghetti squash.
- Add cooked Broccoli to the dish instead of peas or in addition to the peas for a more vegetable packed dinner.
- Add ½ cup sautéed sliced mushrooms with the chicken and onion mixture.
- Make this a seafood sensation by adding in cooked shrimp with the chicken or in place of the chicken.