If you are a fan of the classic Italian dish carbonara, then you know that one of its essential ingredients is bacon.
But what if you want to make this dish but don’t have any bacon on hand?
Don’t worry; there are several options that can help you make a delicious dish without the use of traditional carbonara bacon.
Let’s take a glance at some of the best substitutes for carbonara bacon.
Best Carbonara Bacon Substitutes
Pancetta is a great alternative to carbonara bacon if you’re not vegan or vegetarian. It has a much milder flavor than regular bacon and is cured with salt and spices.
It also has less fat than regular bacon, making it an ideal choice if you’re trying to cut down on your fat intake.
To use pancetta in carbonara, fry it in olive oil until crisp, then remove it from heat and set aside. When cooking the pasta, add the pancetta to the egg and cheese sauce.
However, pancetta is readily available in many grocery stores and can easily be substituted in place of bacon in any recipe.
Prosciutto is similar to pancetta but has a more intense flavor profile. It’s made from pork cured with salt and spices, then air-dried for several months.
Additionally, it has much less fat than traditional pork, and you can use it as an excellent replacement for carbonara bacon in recipes such as pasta dishes or salads.
To add even more flavor to this dish, try using prosciutto with black pepper or garlic.
3. Tofu Bacon
My favorite Tofu bacon is a great vegan substitute for carbonara bacon because it has the same salty flavor and crunchy texture as regular bacon without any animal products.
To make tofu bacon, slice firm tofu into thin strips and marinate it in soy sauce, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings before pan-frying it until crispy.
This can easily be added to any dish that calls for carbonara bacon as long as your guests don’t mind the absence of meat!
Ham is an excellent replacement for bacon in carbonara, as it adds a similar smoky flavor and texture.
It also has more moisture than bacon, so it won’t dry out during cooking.
You can either buy pre-sliced ham from the deli counter or buy a whole ham and cut it into thin strips yourself.
You can also opt for smoked ham or honey-glazed ham, depending on your preference.
5. Turkey Bacon
Turkey bacon is another good option when making carbonara without traditional bacon. It has less fat and calories than traditional pork bacon but still adds great flavor to the dish.
It also has more moisture than pork bacon, so it won’t dry out during cooking.
Turkey bacon comes in both pre-cooked and uncooked varieties, so make sure you read the packaging carefully before purchasing.
Chorizo is a type of Spanish sausage with a strong, spicy flavor that makes it great for carbonara.
To use chorizo in carbonara, fry it in olive oil until crisp, then remove it from heat and set aside. Additionally, when cooking the pasta, add the chorizo to the egg and cheese sauce.
Tofu is a great vegetarian option for carbonara. To use tofu in carbonara, press it between paper towels to remove as much water as possible.
Then cut into strips or cubes and fry in olive oil until golden brown. When cooking the pasta, add the tofu to the egg and cheese sauce.
Seitan is a high-protein meat substitute made from wheat gluten that has a chewy texture similar to bacon.
To use seitan in carbonara, cut it into strips or cubes and fry it in olive oil until golden brown. When cooking the pasta, add the seitan to the egg and cheese sauce.
Mushrooms have a meaty texture that creates them great for carbonara.
To use mushrooms in carbonara, fry them in olive oil until golden brown. When cooking the pasta, add the mushrooms to the egg and cheese sauce.
Tempeh is a high-protein meat substitute made from fermented soybeans that has a chewy texture similar to bacon.
To use tempeh in carbonara, cut it into strips or cubes and fry it in olive oil until golden brown. When cooking the pasta, add the tempeh to the egg and cheese sauce.
You can try Eggplant, which has a meaty texture that makes it great for carbonara.
To use eggplant in carbonara, fry it in olive oil until golden brown and when cooking the pasta, add the eggplant to the egg and cheese sauce.
Lentils have a rich flavor and meaty texture that makes them great for carbonara.
To use lentils in carbonara, cook the lentils until soft and then mash them into a paste; when cooking the pasta, add the mashed lentils to the egg and cheese sauce.
My favorite Cashews have a rich flavor and creamy texture that makes them great for carbonara.
To use cashews in carbonara, grind the cashews into a paste and then fry in olive oil until golden brown. When cooking the pasta, add the cashew paste to the egg and cheese sauce.
Wrap up on carbonara bacon substitute
Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just looking to mix up your diet, there are plenty of good substitutes for carbonara bacon out there!
Pancetta and prosciutto both provide similar flavors with less fat than regular pork, while tofu provides a vegan option that still delivers all the salty goodness of regular bacon without any animal products!
So next time you’re looking for something different to put in your favorite pasta dish or salad – consider one of these excellent alternatives!
FAQs on carbonara bacon substitute
Q1. Is pancetta or bacon better for carbonara?
If you’re looking to add something smoky and salty to your carbonara, you may be wondering if you should use bacon or pancetta. At the end of the day – it’s really up to personal preference.
Bacon is thicker, saltier, and smokier than pancetta, while pancetta adds a more delicate porky flavor and has less smoke making it ideal for cream-based dishes like carbonara.
Additionally, you’ll get a more rounded flavor with pancetta that combines sweetness with buttery versus bacon which is more intense in its flavors.
So whether you prefer the complexity of pancetta or the zesty bite from bacon – it’s all going to depend on what kind of flavor profile you’re looking for in your carbonara.
Q2. Does carbonara have to have pork?
Carbonara is a beloved Italian pasta dish made with egg, cheese, and bacon or pancetta. To answer the question of whether it must contain pork, the answer is both yes and no.
Many traditional recipes call for pork, usually in the form of bacon or pancetta, but many modern recipes substitute prosciutto or even chorizo instead.
For a vegetarian approach to carbonara, olive oil can be used in place of pork altogether. On a purely flavor-centric level, maintaining some form of cured meat in the dish certainly enhances the umami factor more than using oil does.
But ultimately, it comes down to the chef’s and diner’s preference for what type of meat to include in their carbonara. So yes – carbonara can have pork, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.